Please note: Flights to and from Antarctica are subject to weather. Delays can and often do occur therefore it is important to allow some flexibility with airline travel arrangements at the end of the expedition.
Every effort will be made to ensure the expedition itinerary is adhered to but Antarctica is the most remote and isolated continent on earth. The above program is subject to change such as may be affected by weather conditions and aircraft serviceability and other factors out of the hands of Adventure Consultants or its staff and contractors. While every effort is made to ensure the expedition is run to schedule, acceptance onto the expedition is based on your acceptance of those conditions. Having stated that, our track record in Antarctica is impeccable but it is a sign of our respect of Antarctica’s environmental omnipotence that we alert you to those possibilities.
TO THE 89TH DEGREE
The group meets in Punta Arenas at the tip of South America for briefings and gear checks prior to flying into the interior of Antarctica.
From Punta Arenas, we fly by Ilyushin 76 aircraft to the ALE base at Union Glacier. Here the aircraft makes a wheeled landing on a natural blue-ice runway.
Our flights to Antarctica are operated by Antarctic Logistics (ALE) who are the sole providers of aircraft access into the region. We have worked with them since their inception in the early 1980’s when AC founder Rob Hall provided them assistance establishing the Vinson Massif routes and camps.
The Union Glacier camp, situated at 80 degrees South, is a small collection of tents. The dining and kitchen tent has a wooden floor and is heated with a kerosene stove. We sleep overnight in our own mountain tents but gather for meals in the warmth of the dining tent.
Your guides will hold a briefing on the logistics and safety protocols of the upcoming adventure and cover all aspects of the trip not already addressed in the initial briefing held in Punta Arenas. We pay special attention to the environmental considerations required to leave the continent with as minimal an impact as possible. Following the briefing we will sort sufficient kit for an overnight practice tour to consolidate the skills need for the trip itself. This is an ideal time to sort out last minute equipment queries and to familiarise yourself with the environment and how we best manage ourselves when we are out in it.
Following our tour we will finalise packing of the group supplies and equipment and divide this amongst the team onto sleds. We must then await sufficiently fine weather to start the long flight to the beginning of the trek. Conditions need to be clear and calm along the route with good visibility for landing and taking off. There can be delays of several days and sometimes more so it is vital you are prepared for this eventuality and that you can relax at these times. Antarctica is not predictable or tameable and no amount of enthusiasm or pressure to get started will change her.
Once the weather forecasters give us the green light we load into ski-equipped Twin Otter aircraft for the six hour flight south into the heart of Antarctica. Along the way we stop at the Thiel Mountains to refuel the aircraft from a specially placed fuel cache, we then fly the remainder of the distance to 89° South.
SKIING TO THE POLE
As we will be arriving high onto the polar plateau we will encounter effects of altitude that may make us feel a little weak to begin with. Everyone will be towing a sled loaded with their personal and expedition equipment and we will have a short day to stretch our legs then establish our first camp. We will begin slowly on the expedition to bring everyone up to an optimum pace for remainder of the journey. There will be no rushing as it is vital that we avoid injury and burnout and that we have the stamina to finish the expedition.
Each day we will awake around 7.30am for breakfast and hydration before we begin to break camp and pack our belongings. We travel for around 8 hours every day with a break every hour for food and drink. Everybody travels together and the pace will be slow and steady and not hurried. The objective is to maintain an optimum body temperature; too cold and we burn too much energy - whilst too hot will cause sweating that promotes hypothermia when you stop, in addition to dehydration issues. At the day’s end you will have travelled 10-15km (6-10miles).
On arrival at a camp site the group will set up tents and build protective snow walls and contribute to snow melting and meal preparations. Everyone is involved and working to get the camp ready for habitation. The bonus is that you will stay warm by helping out! Once inside your tent you will be sheltered from the wind and the 24 hour daylight will enable clothes to be dried in the midnight sun.
We follow this routine for seven days as we journey towards the Pole. Finally, the South Pole station will come into view from about 24km (15 miles) out.
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