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Polar Journeys

The following is to serve as a helpful guideline on our Polar Journeys. Please feel free to call or e-mail if you have any further questions. Our team is here to help!

CHOOSING A PROVIDER

How long has Adventure Consultants been in operation?
Adventure Consultants started in 1990 and we have been guiding internationally ever since.

A few outfitters ‘claim’ to have the same level of experience and prestige with that of Adventure Consultants. In this league, what makes you a first choice for your climbers travelling to Antarctica?
In December of 1992, Adventure Consultants founders Rob Hall and Gary Ball ran their first commercial expedition to Antarctica in conjunction with ANI. Previous to this, Rob and Gary climbed Vinson Massif in 1990, and Rob earlier in 1989. Adventure Consultants has continued guiding since to this remote part of the world, and have an established relationship with ALE. The 2014/15 season will mark Adventure Consultants twenty first year of expeditions to Vinson Massif; therefore, we are experts in all of the intricacies of travelling to Antarctica.

FOOD, ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES

What showers and washing (clothes) will be available on the expedition?
Showers are available at the Punta Arenas, Reykjavik and Longyearbyan hotels prior to and after the expedition/s, but during the crossings it is not possible. We advise people to bring wet-wipes for the impromptu wash in between available showers.

Would you let us know what food will be available?
Food is one of the most crucial factors for a trip on the North/South Pole and Last Degree expeditions.  We serve nutritious and filling food that will sustain you well for the crossing, and during the planning stage we will ask you for your feedback in advance in order for us to adjust our menus to your specific requirements or tastes.

What is the food like?
Our guides will prepare high quality ‘western’ food from a pre-planned menu with food items from New Zealand, Norway, Iceland and Chile. On the mountain, we also eat fresh food plus MRE's - Meals ready to eat. This is real food, vacuum sealed, so you just heat and eat! On previous expeditions, our teams have been served meals such as NZ lamb shanks, salmon, curries and pasta dishes. We are happy to cater for specific dietary requirements, so do let us know in advance.

What are the hotels like? 
Through our local agents, we book centrally located comfortable mid-range hotels. Once on your expedition program, you will be staying in tents and sharing with one other. Our standard trips are based on shared rooms, usually twin share.

Will I be sharing a tent or room with other climbers? Is a single supplement available?
Hotel rooms are based on a twin-share basis, but if you would like your own room, please do enquire with our office for pricing.

TRAVEL

Do I need to arrive the day before the trip starts?
Flights to and from Antarctica, the Poles and Greenland are subject to weather, therefore delays can and often do occur so it is very important to allow some flexibility with airline travel arrangements at the end of the expedition.  

My travel agent says I can just get an ‘e’ ticket (electronic ticket) and will not need to be actually issued a physical ticket.
E' tickets are the standard practice these days and are now acceptable in most locations. Do ensure you print your itinerary and have your booking number with you, as this allows you to change your flight in the event that this is required.

When should I book my ticket?
For the majority of our expeditions, we generally ask you to wait until 90 days prior to your trip start date to ensure your trip has met the minimum numbers and will operate. If you see a good deal and want to book your flights then ensure you can make changes to your tickets and it is a good idea to purchase trip cancellation insurance, in the event that you need to cancel.

Can I get a cheap ticket online?
We highly recommend purchasing an open, fully changeable air ticket, as trips can be extended by a week or more. Given the remote nature of where we are, the weather must fall within certain parameters to be able to fly and you can be assured the reasons for flight delays are for safety. In today’s world there are few places where the environment still affects our plans and Antarctica/The Arctic are one of them!

Where do we meet? Will I be picked up?
For North Pole departures, plan to fly into Svalbard Airport (LYR) in Norway; for Greenland, fly into Reykyavik Keflavik Airport (KEF) in Iceland; and finally for South Pole departures, fly into Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Airport in Punta Arenas. Where possible, there will be an AC representative waiting to meet you and if not; you will have to catch a taxi from the airport to the hotel as your guide will be busy with the final preparations for the expedition. Please refer to the individual trip notes and if you have any queries, do let your friendly client liaison know.

What if I am arriving early or departing late?
We can assist you with booking extra hotel room nights if you arrive early. However, on these trips YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ARRIVE LATE, as sometimes we can fly to the ice the day after your arrival, and if that is the case, and your bags get lost, you will not be able to come on the expedition

CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT

Do you have a recommended list of clothing we should bring?
Yes, you will be sent a personal clothing and equipment list once our office has received your trip registration form and deposit. We do also have a dedicated equipment coordinator that is happy to provide advice and answers to any questions you may have.

Do I really need all the equipment on the equipment list?
Yes, these lists have been carefully prepared and you must bring everything on the list, as there are very limited options if additional equipment needs to be purchased in your departure cities.

How warm do we need our sleeping bags to be?
This will be clearly stated in your recommended gear list. In particular for camping on the ice, you will need a sleeping bag warm enough for you in conditions that can be as cold as -40oC (-40oF)  We cannot recommend enough as to buying a sleeping bag big enough to allow you to wear some clothes in if it is especially cold.

ACCLIMATISATION

I will be climbing at altitude, so does Adventure Consultants take this into consideration?
On all of our programs, we seriously take into consideration the altitude and ensure that all of our itineraries allow for sufficient acclimatisation and rest days, as and when required.

What altitude medication will be available on the expedition? Do we need to take tablets before/ during the trek?
All our guides carry extensive medical kits and some of our bigger expeditions even have their own doctor. You need to bring any medications you regularly use (don’t forget to tell us about them) plus extra. Also bring a small first aid kit including a blister kit and mild headache medication for the normal altitude headaches.

GUIDES, PORTERS & EXPEDITION TEAM MEMBERS

How many guides will be assigned to our group?
A ratio of climbers to western guides is stated on each trip’s web page in the downloadable ‘trip notes’. Porters are assigned depending on the size of the group and type of expedition.

How much weight can we carry on the expedition?
Team members work together to carry all of the group and your own personal equipment. This can amount to 25kg (55lb) per person, so this reinforces the need to be 'pack' fit before arriving on the expedition. For example on the first day out, expect to carry approximately one third of the gear in a pack and two thirds on the sledge which is hauled behind.

Can I hire a porter?
If you feel you want additional support to carry equipment for you, then please contact the office to discuss pricing for this option.  We can arrange for a personal porter to carry for you throughout the expedition but due to the high cost of operating in Antarctica/the Arctic and Greenland the costs for this service are substantial.

Can I contact other climbers or guides on this expedition?
Sure! Before the expedition, contact our office and we can pass on your details to the other climbers. Due to our privacy policy, we leave it up to individual team members as to whether they want to get in touch.

Who goes on your trips?
Our climbers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, interests, countries and skill levels ranging from those seeking skill development to those seeking assistance with the world's highest mountains, or purely adventure.

I would like to arrange a private trip, is this possible?
We are happy to arrange a private group trip to the destination of your choice, and even to remote destinations such as Antarctica or the Arctic. There is no specific group size, but obviously larger groups are more cost effective.

HEALTH & FITNESS

What are the skills/prior experience required for this climb?
We usually ask that you have prior experience with an ice axe and crampons, and have done other remote climbs. Snow camping and previous experience at altitude are beneficial but also a pre-requisite. If you are interested in but feel that you may not have quite enough experience, please contact our team to chat over the skills you have and we can also easily arrange additional training around the world, if need be.

What kind of physical condition should I be in for an Antarctic/Arctic expedition?
Given the remote location and altitude, we ask that you are in good condition. Cardiovascular shape is very important on this climb, as the summit day can be long. You need to be able to carry a pack between 30-45lbs.14-20kgs and drag a sled 20/30lbs/9-14kgs.

How heavy will my pack/sled be?
Expect your pack to be 30-40lbs/14-18kg on the way up and 40-45lbs/18-20kg on the way down. Your sled will be about 20-30lbs/9-14kg on the way up, and 20-25lbs/9-11kg on the way down.

How can I best prepare for the cold? Isn’t it the coldest place on the planet?
Yes, if the wind picks up and you are in the shade, it can get very cold indeed. The good part is that it is a dry cold. Low humidity makes the low temperatures a bit more tolerable. The best way to prepare for these temperatures, barring standing in a walk in freezer, would be to get out during the winter months if you can, and anticipate how your body will respond to the change in climate. To give you an idea of just how cold places down there get, the lowest ever recorded temperature by humans was at Vostok on July 21st 1983 was -89C!

Adventure Consultants can assist in sourcing gear and for Antarctic departures, ALE are able to rent some clothing items for particular trips. If interested, please enquire with your client liaison.

If we get "stuck" on the ice, what do we eat? Have you ever run out of food?
No, we won’t run out of food! Typically we bring at least one weeks worth of extra food with us. If we are required to stay longer than this in Antarctica, we will then dine at the large base operated from Union Glacier, who maintain huge stores of food that could basically winter over everyone present.

What type of communication is available on the expedition?
Your expedition guide will have an Iridium satellite phone and you are welcome to use this at US$4 per minute. As we rely on solar power and cannot guarantee that the phone will be available 24hrs a day. Cold severely affects the system and delays can occur for re-warming. If you anticipate that you may need to make frequent or long calls then please make arrangements before the expedition through our office.

I want to contact my friend or relative, who is on one of your trips, how can I reach them?
Your guide will send daily internet dispatches, and the Adventure Consultants NZ office receives updates from our guides while they are in the field. The best place to reach a loved one is through our office.

Will there be any power source for charging batteries, etc. available throughout the trek? What voltage requirements?
We take solar panels and sometimes battery power packs on our expeditions. Our first priority is to charge our satellite phones and expedition electrical equipment.  If your equipment has a cigarette lighter type car charger (12V DC/DC charger capable of plugging into a 'female' cigarette lighter socket), bring that as this then gives you the option to charge items at Union Glacier. We do NOT recommend bringing rechargeable digital cameras; they tend to run out when power is not available. Use cameras with replaceable batteries and we recommend lithium batteries. We can cater for special power requirements at an extra cost - please enquire with our office.

WEATHER FORECASTS

What weather report service do you use and how often do you receive a weather reports?
During the Antarctic expeditions, your guide will receive daily weather updates from the team at Union Glacier as well as updates from the Adventure Consultants office.  This will then allow your guide to gauge the best summit window.

INSURANCE

What insurance do we need to get?
When travelling down to Antarctica, this requires very specific specialised insurance and requirements include minimum medical evacuation amounts that differ for the Vinson and South Pole departures.  This should cover you for any costs incurred in the event of any illness, medical emergency or evacuation that occurs while on expedition as well as trip cancellation, baggage loss, damage or theft, or any other mishap that can occur.

Do I need evacuation insurance?
Absolutely and as it is so imperative for departures to Antarctica, as your insurance cover is double checked prior to be allowed to travel down to the ice.

Who do you recommend for insurance?
When you have booked on an Antarctic departure, we will send you information on the insurance option which will serve you best for obtaining the best coverage in line with what is required.

What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?
Trip cancellation insurance is an option that may allow you to cancel your trip without losing the total cost of the trip. Adventure Consultants highly recommends cancellation insurance for expeditions to Antarctica. If circumstances cause us to cancel a trip (e.g. minimum numbers are not reached) then we refund your fees paid but trip cancellation insurance covers your airfare and any other costs you may have incurred.

FEES & PAYMENTS

Can I pay by credit card?
We can accept the trip deposit payment on credit card, and we add a 3% fee to accept the balance payment by credit card for your expedition. Please contact our office or visit our secure credit card page to send us your credit card details - your card is not charged at the time as we process this here in our office and not via an online payment system.

What is included in the cost of my trip? Does it include airfare?
Each specific trip page on the website has a section as well as a downloadable pdf document with exactly what is and what is not included on the trip. International airfares are not included in the trip price. We can however recommend excellent travel agents whom we have worked with in your country, should you require help with arranging your international airfare.

Why are you sometimes more expensive than other operators?
Many of our trips are very similar in price to our competitors. Some companies even wait for us to set our prices and use ours as a guideline!! Some of our main selling points, which sometimes do cost more, are; internationally qualified western guides, proven dependable local operators, small group sizes and safe client:guide ratios, quality equipment and high summit success rates, among other things. You do get what you pay for which is why we stand out from the rest. Many clients come to us after failing on one of our competitors ‘cheaper’ trips.

How do I sign up for a trip?
The best way to reserve your space on a trip is to call our office or complete our online booking form. Return this with the trip deposit either through a telegraphic transfer (information is on our trip notes downloaded from the specific trip page) or by using our secure credit card page. Phone our New Zealand head office on +64 3 443 8711 (Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:30pm PST + 19 hours) or Freephone 1-866-757-8722 from North America.

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