SOUTH POLE LAST DEGREE
To be able to reach the Geographical South Pole, on the least accessible-, the coldest-, the most windswept, the highest and the most unique continent on earth, you know you have done something extraordinary.
With the dramatic and historic fight between Amundsen and Scott as an immense backdrop, we feel both humble and impressed as the beautiful and enormous Antarctic plateau reveals the coveted South Pole – 90° South.
Food and equipment
Joining a trip to the cold world, being outdoors for many days in a row, sleeping in a tent, skiing for about 8 hours on an average a day, still being able to keep up the pace, spirit, motivation, strength and also being able to enjoy it, obviously requires some attention to equipment.
Once you sign up for one of our trips, we will send you the complete and detailed equipmentlist that explains thoroughly what you need for the specific trip, why and how to use the equipment.
One of the main reasons we have had great success on our many trips, is because we supply the essential equipment that is not easy (nor practical) for you to get yourself. These items are essential in getting you through the day in a good way and ensure that you have a safe and trustworthy experience.
The equipment you need to get yourself might look like a lot, but this is usually items people will already have or could borrow from friends. You might have to buy some of it, but we will help you choosing the right equipment and all this will be discussed in detail with each and one of you. Then you should have a good set of usable equipment that you will be able to enjoy for many future trips as well.
The weight of the sled will depend on which trip you are going on as fuel and food adds up for each day with about 1,3 kilos. Some trips also require special equipment like climbing gear, polar bear protection, waterproof bags, etc. Sometimes we have to carry our stuff in backpacks to reach the glacier or good skiing ground, but we do not load to more than max 30 kilos, it is better to go two times.
On an average we can say that a sled weigh as follows:
- North Pole Last Degree 40 kg
- North Pole Full Length (with/without supplies) 75 kg /110 kilos
- South Pole Last Degree 40 kg
- Patagonia, Northern Icecap, 50 kg
- Greenland Spring 52 kg
- Greenland Fall 55 kg
- Svalbard – Nordaustlandet 40 kg
- Svalbard – Spisbergen crossing 40 kg
- Hardangervidda 25 Kg
- Finnmarksvidda 25 kg
- South Georgia 35 kg
To best prepare for pulling the sled and carrying in backpacks, refer to the training and preparations info. This topic will also be covered more into detail once you have signed up. If you are curious and want some more info either way, let us know.
We provide nutritious expedition food for each participant for all the days skiing. It will be enough calories for the trip, but if you feel like having some extra snacks, please feel free to bring it.
There will always be personal choices. We provide several types of freeze-dried dinners, and lunch with a mix of what you like best. Our selection of food to choose from is based on long experience where energy, taste and also preparation are key factors. We have limited time for breaks during the day, about 12-15 minutes at normally every 1,5 hours intervals.
Our normal day-to-day diet:
Børge’s homemade enriched oatmeal/porridge mix.
Choice of: Fruit soup or energy drink for hot water. Compressed biscuits rations and/or Flapjack (oatmeal cakes).
And/or potatochips, nuts and dried fruit.100-150 g chocolate per day. About 100 g piece of dried meat.
Choise of freeze dried dinners. Our partner for dinner is Real Turmat www.real.no. Instant soup, hot chocolate, coffee or tea as you wish.
All the food will be packed by you in daily rations and stored in bags provided by us prior to departure. There is always a day or so with packing and organizing before we start the trip. You will carry your own food and be responsible for it during the expedition.
Food- allergies or intolerances:
If you have any food- intolerances or allergies, we will together with you (and possibly with your doctor) advice the different ingredients you need to ensure the best nutrition but which is adapted to the diet you follow. You should test this beforehand to avoid any unpleasant surprises on the way.
If you need to be on a special diet, we recommend that you yourself prepare most of your food at home before we leave, so that you are sure to get what you need. It will in most cases be a possibility to ship the food to the destination beforehand together with the rest of the equipment.
Please let us know if you have special needs or concerns regarding food or nutrition, we will do our best to help.
Day by day
Leave home. The usual routing (for Europeans) is to fly out in the afternoon, either via Paris, London, Madrid or Frankfurt. For the long overnight flight to Santiago we prefer to seat ourselves on the right-hand side. That will ensure you a splendid view of Aconcagua (6962m – Highest mountain in America and one of the Seven Summits) just 17 minutes before landing.
To land, early in the morning, in the super comfortable summer of Santiago is bliss, and if you have a late flight to Punta Arenas you may sneak in a lunch at downtown Mercado Central – that certainly will make you sleep heading further south…
Anyway, if you happen to be awake, try to sit on the left side on this leg as the impressive Andes Mountain Range will fill your view with snow-clad peaks and volcanoes for the duration of the flight. And a long flight it is, as Chile stretches forever south towards the Cape Horn. Well arrived, you meet the guide, check in to the hotel and the team goes for the first dinner together.
This is preparation time. We will all join together to finalize everything and be sure we are 100% ready before flying into Antarctica. This is also an important exercise and we need to get our heads into what we bring and how the operation work: equipment, food, sledges, routines, safety, emergency, navigation etc. Needless to say, work is punctuated by dinner and Punta has in fact some really great restaurants – Sleep should be no problem.
The day will have more programs than you may think. We will attend an Antarctic briefing with the folks that do the logistics for us. They will show us how serious the cold can be and go through rules, guidelines and advice for Antarctic travels and flying. Then we are going to bring our equipment to the airport, weigh it in and cross our fingers we will not exceed our weight allocation as overweight charges hurt. We keep a small bag of basics and warm clothing which we take as hand luggage on the plane. Extra luggage can be stored at the hotel.
We will from early morning be stand-by at the hotel. No one flies into Antarctica unless they know conditions are perfect. The distances, the cold, the nature, the total lack of infrastructure means the flight operator and pilots will be monitoring the weather very carefully. We will not get the call till they are 100% sure the weather window is big enough.
So how long we will wait at the hotel is hard to say. It could be an hour. It could be a day. Or two. Or more. But once the phone rings we will have 20 minutes to be dressed (full polar combat), checked out and be ready on the outside of the hotel. A van picks us up and we are off to the airport.
There we stamp out of Chile and will be ‘nowhere’ until we stamp back in. We then go to the Ilyushin IL76 cargo plane. It is not pretty. It has no Business class… and has big cargo hatch at the back. – The last weather update comes as we are all strapped in - then we are off.
We fly over Terra del Fuego, Cape Horn, the Drake Passage, along the stunning Antarctic Peninsula. Four and a half hour later we land at the blue ice runway at Union Glacier. To step out of the plane is a tremendous feeling. It is so clear, so dry, so cold and so good you will fall in love there and then.
After being transported to the camp we pitch our tents and ready everything in case we can go out at once. But most likely we will wait a day or so. In the meantime, food is served for us in the huge mess tent, but we sleep in our own tents and get a good feel for it all. Already the next day our bodies are much better acclimatised to the cold!
Day 6 -7:
The next leg on our journey is by smaller planes with skis. Again we wait for the weather. Once cleared, we pull our stuff across to the snow runway close to camp. Off we are for a long haul and the Antarctic vastness will dawn on you. After about another 4,5 hours flight we are close to our destination and the pilots starts to look for a smooth place to land. We tumble out and moments later the plane roars off.
The silence we are left with is total and we feel more alone than ever before. It is a wonderful cocktail of emotions and happiness. We strap on the harness and walk off ever so slowly.
We are at some 2800 metres. This is equivalent to some 3500 (+) metres in Himalaya. Because of the rotation of Earth, the atmosphere is thinner near the poles than near the Equator and middle latitudes. This thinner atmosphere means high latitudes also have lower atmospheric pressure and significantly less oxygen than at the same elevation at lower latitudes. We look upon this as a high altitude expedition and take our precautions. The super dry air ads up to the fact that we must drink a lot, breath more than normal and keep the pulse rate down. – So the first day we call it a day after just a few kilometres and make our first camp.
The next couple of day’s progress:
As we slowly get accustomed to the altitude, the distances will increase. On an average the typical progress rate for an expedition like this is: Day 1: 3km, Day 2: 7km, Day 3: 10km, Day 4: 12km, Day 5: 15km. Day 6: 15+km, etc. As the weather and the conditions in Antarctica are ever changing and really unpredictable, we have to expect a day or so to be weather days, so we do not know exactly how many days we have for our Last Degree. Anyway, from the 5th day on the ice, we should be able to do good distances and be able to estimate the arrival.
As we get nearer, specs on the horizon grow to strange buildings and huge scientific antennas appear. But our focus is just the Pole itself. It is an emotional trip down memory lane and a huge feeling. After photos and hugs we prepare camp before we are allowed a quick visit to the Station itself. It is impressive and we feel as if we might as well be somewhere in space. But then again, there is no tougher place on earth; we stand there shivering in summertime. At winter the darkness and enormous storms descend on the station that is cut off from the rest of the world for some 8 months.
This is the third South Pole station, all build by the Americans. The first one was set up as early as 1955; only 44 years after Amundsen reach the South Pole. The second one, the aluminium dome, was constructed in 1973 and dismantled in 2009. The existing station is much bigger and it really looks like a factory complex on another planet. You can read more about the South Pole Station timeline here http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/igy1/igy1.html
Normally we stay for some hours at the Pole before the plane comes to pick us up. If the weather is good they do not hang about and risk us missing the big bird back to Punta. But sometimes we stay longer, the Antarctic weather always have the last word.
It is a beautiful flight back, refuelling halfway at Thiel Mountains.
Arriving back in Union Glacier is be great. We have been used to the cold and thin air at the upper Polar Plateau by now, down here it feels like summer...
We are greeted by the staff who has prepared a table and a celebration dinner especially for us.
At this time of the year, the weather is at its best and hopefully there will be no delay in getting out back to Punta Arenas. Being back is a rewarding experience, easy to enjoy; a shower, sitting on chairs, ordering food & drinks, read papers, being on-line. The adventure slowly sinks in as we again adapt to the civilisation.
The flight home depends on what kind of ticket you have.
A full flexible return ticket is recommended as this means you will not risk some of the disadvantages related to delays etc. Normally you can buy tickets that can be changed for a fixed sum. The trick is to book a flight a couple of weeks later than expected, and change forward when you know for sure what time you arrive in Punta.
In general our schedule is to get on the morning flight out of Punta Arenas, and arrive mid day in Santiago – and after some hours we board the plane back home.
This trip must be looked upon as a real expedition. It will give a first hand insight into what past and present Polar explorers have experienced: The cold, the wind, the altitude and the enormous white plains – roughened and artistically sculptured by the enormous winter storms. We will experience the snow that Amundsen labelled ‘fish-glue’, a sky so blue and to high you will really feel and understand you are at the highest, most remote and least accessible continent on earth. To come from this total, but beautiful, emptiness to the South Pole it’s a moment that will be with you forever.
Training and preparing
Many wonder how to prepare physically for a polar expedition. This will vary from trip to trip and also for each individual. We will therefore provide individual training programs and advice for each participant if needed.
In general we expect people to carry a 20 kg backpack for 8 hours for several days on a row. That’s a physical exercise that is easy to measure, but actual training can and will consist of various methods.
Training and physical preparation for these trips typically consist of at least 3 training sessions a week for at least one hour each. Gradually this should be increased to 4 sessions a week, three months before departure, including one or two longer sessions lasting for more than two hours.
A combination of cycling, jogging, workout in the gym, walking with backpack or pulling rubber tyres is what we recommend. Its not where you do it that matters, but that you do it. Remember that a cycling session in the gym or a hard work out on the walking machine can be equally as efficient as a session outdoors.
There are two main issues with specific training. One is the physical shape needed to endure the trip you have signed up for and secondly to make your muscles, tendons and ligaments, basically the whole body, prepared for the load on the way. Not to forget the third reason, that physical training in general is very positive, something you will benefit from after the expedition as well. So, its only one thing to do when the goal is set, start training!
Note: Be careful in the beginning, start at a level you feel comfortable with and increase gradually. If you start out too hard you might experience overtraining and injuries. Consult a doctor or physician if you experience injuries. Don’t forget to stretch out well after each session. Eating well and healthy will also help preparing your body for the upcoming adventure. The trips are not super hard, but you will enjoy it more when you have done your homework and taken training and preparation serious.
As part of the preparations, we organize a weekend of training in Verdal, Norway late in late January or early February. The aim is to go through the basic skills for winter survival in order to be as well prepared as possible. We go through all the equipment and routines. During this training weekend we also get to know each other a bit beforehand, as becoming a team is an important part of the whole concept. We also open for one-on-one talks with those who would like to get some personal advise.
Joining the training weekend is free of charge.
We will cover most of the basic equipment, some food, tents etc, except personal equipment like clothes ski boots etc. This is also a great time to go to the sport shop, since some of the equipment needed for trips like this can be hard to find outside Norway. We can assist you with this as well.
You need to cover your flight tickets coming here, food and lodging before and after the training outdoors (if any, as the nights mainly will be spent in tents outdoors).
The training is voluntarily but highly recommended. This will help you and us to evaluate your assumptions and to put focus on the key points for further exercise and practice
More info on the training trip will be distributed when signing up for one of our trips.
We also do a extended training trip: The Finnmarksvidda Crossing
Every February for 5 days and 4 nights around the time of full-moon.
Finnmarksvidda is in Northern parts of Norway, above the Arctic Circle. This trip is a great way to train and learn the ropes of basic winter survival. It is a 5 day mini expedition that is relevant, cold and stunning as we very often have the Northern lights at night. Timed with the full February moon we normally have enough natural light for skiing as well.
The Finnmark trip is one of our regular trips (refer to the complete overview for all trips) but if you already are booked on any of our other trips, you will receive a discount.
Rates, dates and booking
The dates 2016:
December 7th to 18th, December 18th to 29th , January 3rd to 14th.
2017 & 2018:
We will go back both in 2017 and 2018. There will be changes to the dates and price compared to 2016. The program will be the same.
Contact us for more details or if you have any questions, or complete the booking if you know which year you can go.
The Price & Invoice:
The price this year 2016 is US$ 61.950,-. To be paid in full 90 days before departure, (minus the deposit). Refunding / pulling out clauses are dealt with in our Travel Conditions.
The price includes all transportation, logistic, food and common equipment including sleeping bags, mattresses, skis, ski boots, tents, sleds, stoves etc. (detailed equipment list will be distributed). It does not include personal clothing travel to and stay in Punta Arenas, personal insurance.
We will send you a Deposit Invoice of US$ 7.500,- approximately 6 months before departure or before if we have waiting lists. The system works as follows: Your Booking Form will give you a place in the ‘queue’. But it is not binding in any way. It only gets serious as you receive a Deposit Invoice. This is refundable according to our Travel Conditions. But this means you are in and the trip is on!
Booking - How to proceed
- If this is something for you, - send us the booking for your desired trip and your place is reserved. This will be kept for you until you have paid the deposit invoice. Then your place is guaranteed until the remaining amount is due.
- You will then receive our expedition-booklet that gives you more information about the trip, insurances, safety, personal training tips towards the trip, as well as info on the training in Oslo (for more info, refer to the training and preparations menu)
- We will also supply you with the complete equipmentlist and work with you to ensure that you know what is needed and included from both your- and our side.
- Personal information-form. By signing up on a trip, we need you to fill in a form for our records regarding health issues, your recent outdoor experiences- and background, passport- and insurance info as well as next-of-kin details.
- The invoice for the remaining amount will be sent to you about 3 months prior to departure (for some destinations the due-dates might be more than 90 days prior to departure. After full payment have been settled, you are guaranteed to get your place for your desired trip. You still have the right to cancel at this point, but depending on how close we are to the departure, some of our basic costs will have to be deducted from the deposit. (For more details on this refer to our terms & conditions)
|Duration:||Approx. 12 days from the moment of taking off to Antarctica|
|Price:||Around 65.000 USD. Not completely confirmed|
|Sheduled for:||2017, 2018|
|Participants:||6 + 1 guide|