Planning Your South Pole / Vinson Combo: Five Tips To Do It Right

The South Pole / Vinson combination is an increasingly popular duo of polar expeditions and not only for adventurers doing the Explorers Grand Slam. It makes a lot of sense to combine Antarctica's two most popular expeditions into one departure - especially if you are smart about how you plan it.
The two big factors are the order of the expeditions (which goes first: the South Pole or Mt. Vinson?) and the timing (December? January?) Our South Pole / Vinson combo always kicks off in January with the South Pole first, followed by Vinson. Why? Here are five important reasons. 
#1.  Good acclimatization at South Pole means a rapid climb on Vinson. The South Pole sits at 9,300 feet but thanks to a thin polar atmosphere the  physiological effect on your body is closer to 12,000 feet. Hauling a sled at this altitude for 8-10 days is perfect acclimatization for Vinson - and not only because of the elevation. You are also honing the same cold weather systems that will keep you safe and comfortable on Antarctica's highest peak. Indeed skiing across the polar plateau is perfect prep work for climbing Vinson. After reaching 90° South (the Geographic South Pole) the transition to Vinson is smooth. We fly back to Union Glacier Basecamp to swap our polar kit for climbing gear and then we head over to VBC (Vinson Base Camp). Once there our pre-acclimatization means we can start our ascent straight away, avoiding the 2-4 "acclimatization days" of standard Vinson ascents. Additionally with fine-tuned expedition skills we arrive as an efficient team which increases the safety and fun factor of our ascent. 
#2.  Hardest and longest "job" completed first, making enjoyment of the amazing Ellsworth Mountains that much better. We'll be honest, the South Pole is AMAZING but visually it's not as stunning as Vinson. It can feel like a bit of a slog skiing for 8-10 days when the weather is the only variable. We love everything about skiing to the South Pole, but Vinson is much more exciting, with each step bringing a view that is more stunning than the last. Climbing Vinson AFTER skiing to the South Pole means ending the combo on a high - no pun intended!
#3.  Last people on the mountain, as a rule, so more serene, beautiful and personal. By skiing to the South Pole first we arrive at Vinson during the end of its busy climbing season. Most teams have come and gone, and up at high camp we tend to have the mountain to ourselves. Vinson is a beautiful mountain especially when you can experience it without a maze of tents and dozens of climbers who are also intent on making the summit. There's a wonderful feeling of solitude that is befitting of this giant that rests in one of the most inaccessible and stunning places on the planet.  
#4.  Some of the best weather of the season and no holiday stress! January offers some of the best weather of the season with temperatures that are generally much warmer than in November and December. Our January departure also eliminates the stress of the holiday season which means you can enjoy a peaceful holiday at home with no risk of missing the festivities because of delays in Antarctica. Rather, our South Pole / Vinson Combo team gathers in Punta Arenas, Chile on New Year's Eve and kicks off the New Year with a celebration of fireworks over the Straits of Magellan - and then it's off to Antarctica!
#5. We've been offering the South Pole / Vinson Combo since 2001 always with the South Pole first. Since that time we've reaffirmed many times that this is by far the most efficient and enjoyable way to experience these two Antarctic treasures. 
Our next South Pole / Vinson Combo kicks off on December 31.  We have a few expedition spaces available but the charter flights to and from Antarctica are filling fast! Don't miss out on this opportunity to join us. Call or email Annie for more details.
Wednesday, 07 November 2018 19:23

Layering Like a Pro

Most people who venture out into the cold nowadays have at least heard about layering. The beauty of a good layering system is the ability to adapt it to any conditions or type of activity. Are you doing it right? If you’re still struggling to find the right combination of clothing for a given activity, maybe this will help.

In the world of extreme adventuring, there is always another expedition to be had. Always another mountain to climb, route to accomplish, or journey to experience. However, there is one achievement that many world class adventurers strive for, The Explorers Grand Slam. The Explorers Grand Slam combines climbing the tallest mountain on every continent (The 7 Summits) and skiing at least the Last Degree to the North and South Poles. Each of these expeditions is a challenge in its own right, but most often adventurers complete the 7 summits before continuing on to the Poles. Spending that much time on mountains will turn any climber into an expert, but the North and South Pole offer some distinctly different challenges that can pose a serious threat to those unprepared for the experience. 

We asked Ian Clarke (shown LEFT) and John Dahlem (shown RIGHT), both expert expeditioners and Grand Slam completionists, to weigh in on the differences between their Polar Expeditions and 7 Summits. Hopefully their advice will help you in your journey to The Explorers Grand Slam. 

Tuesday, 07 August 2018 17:10

Shaking It Up At Our Shakedown Training

One of our favorite adventures isn't at the top or bottom of the world (though Svalbard is pretty close!) but is is all about how you GET to the top or bottom of the world. If you are looking for a good adventure, even if you have no aspirations of traveling to the North or South Poles, our Polar Shakedown Training can shake up your life in all sorts of good ways. Here are five reasons to put our Polar Shakedown Training on your bucket list. 

The world is full of female explorers, but very few of them guide polar expeditions. To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked PolarExplorers’ guides Nancy Moundalexis and Annie Aggens a few questions about what it’s like to be a female polar explorer.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 17:05

Polar Expedition Eating 101

Expedition food isn’t always known for being the most delicate or delicious. The ultimate goal is to provide your body with the fuel it needs to keep performing optimally (stay warm and energized) throughout the day. This means eating a mixture of fast burning and slow-burning calories at regular intervals throughout the day. Here are the basics. READ MORE...

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