The Expedition Trip Notes provide detailed information and background for Adventure Consultants' South Pole Ski the Last Degree Expedition.
You can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:
South Pole Ski the Last Degree 2019/20 Trip Notes
South Pole Ski the Last Degree 2020/21 Trip Notes
The team will have a minimum size of 4 members and 1 guide and a maximum size of 10 members and 2 guides.
Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE) provides the logistic support and safety backup for our Last Degree expedition. ALE staff have considerable experience and a strong involvement in Antarctica. You will have received several documents from our office that ALE requires before our expedition. They operate the charter planes to and from the ice, as well as the connecting flights to Last Degree start point and back from South Pole.
Adventure Consultants are the longest serving guiding company in Antarctica and were integral in pioneering early ascents and journeys on the continent. You will find the Adventure Consultants guides companionable and strong expedition leaders with considerable power and willingness to see you achieve your goals. The number of guides is determined by the team size but the normal ratio of guides to members is 1:5.
Head Office Support Team
Running successful journeys and expeditions is more about experience, knowledge and strategic management than any other factors. As an organisation, we place a substantial amount of time and resources into ensuring our trips are well planned and supported. You can be assured that the AC staff will provide you with friendly advice and knowledgeable support throughout the planning stages of your trip and we will be there to provide backup while the trip is running.
Amelia Crofut-Brittingham, Client Liaison
Amelia has been with Adventure Consultants since October 2017 in the role of Client Liaison. Having spent many years working in the ski industry, Amelia brings a wealth of experience to her role.
Level of Experience Required
To partake in the Ski the Last Degree Expedition you need to be physically fit, have strong mental stamina and be capable of strenuous exercise at altitude for several days duration. You don’t necessarily need to be an experienced skier as there is little technical requirement on the flat, however the days will be physical and you must train well before joining to ensure you have an enjoyable trip. Expedition members can expect to be exerting themselves for about eight hours per day with another hour establishing camp and another hour preparing food and drinks. See our Fitness Training Programs for information on how we can help you prepare for the expedition.
Each of our trips is individually rated according to its physical and technical difficulty, displayed in the icons towards the top of each trip page. You can click on the accompanying question mark for additional descriptions and the full run-down of our grading system is available on our Difficulty Ratings page.
Preparing for Your Trip
Effective work at high latitudes requires a good (and specific) physiology for the activity and a solid outdoors background. Of course, there is much we can do to enhance the physical attributes we have and these are best achieved by specific training. See our Fitness Training Programs for information on how we can help you prepare for the expedition.
The physical issues endured by polar travellers are the sheer amount of physical output required on a daily basis, and repetitive strain injuries incurred from said activity. Weight loss often occurs through the sheer inability to eat the amount of calories you burn up in a day. There are ways to try to minimise this through diet, pace and regular snacks throughout each working day. However, on the longer trips, the result of all the effort is a lower level of performance and, consequently, the muscular system deteriorates through a calorific deficit. It is worth anticipating muscle loss and therefore you should train to ensure you have a bit extra before you leave.
Being generally fit, healthy and strong is paramount to doing well on these travels. Training should focus on developing cardiovascular capability and strength training for specific muscle groups. There is no training for pulling sleds like pulling sleds! Sport specific training will ensure your ligaments and tendons are conditioned for the stresses of expedition work so if you can get an old tractor tyre out and drag it around behind you in a field then that will ultimately be of some benefit. However, this can be difficult to do and many polar travellers have focused on other ways to simulate the strains to be experienced in the polar regions. Being overweight places more stress on your system so ensure that you are not putting yourself at a disadvantage before you start. It is recommended that you focus on strength development and stamina training as your body is constantly stressed through sled hauling and dealing with the cold. Lots of gym work is recommended and a physical trainer will assist in working on any areas of weakness you may have. Additionally, a lot of long-duration exercise like hill walking (with a pack), mountain biking on hills and swimming are beneficial. Be careful not to over-train just prior to the trip as you will need all your reserves and you don’t want to 'peak' too early. The fact that you are looking at losing (sometimes) considerable body mass indicates the need to be quite heavy at the start of the trip so do not over-do it prior to the expedition.
Aerobic exercise should not be ignored either as you do not want to turn up fully bulked, but not able to perform short duration bursts of energy expenditure where necessary, like when you set out and are feeling cold. During aerobic training, it is necessary to monitor your heart rate to ensure you are training your cardiovascular system. This can be achieved by using a heart rate monitor or by manually measuring heart rate during exertion. A basic formula is 220-Age=heart rate (HR) maximum. Operating at 70-85% of your HR max will ensure you are exercising to enhance cardiovascular fitness.
For all the effort that goes into training the body, the mental attributes are worth some analysis and attention also. The most important of these are a strong work ethic, an ability to pace one’s self for a long duration project, strength of character and—above all—the ability to get on with others. If you are not a 'team player' or you find that you often come into conflict with others (even if you do think it is their fault) then you should not consider taking part in polar expeditions, unless you do it solo!
Adventure Consultants also offers a specific Polar Training Course to introduce the essential skills and techniques you’ll need to prepare for a polar expedition. Based in the New Zealand mountains, this is a 4-10 day course designed to give you greater confidence in the judgment and decision making aspects of polar travel. While no course can prepare you fully for the real thing, this course offers a variety of terrain that enables you to develop the essential skills you will need.
Your Responsibility as a Team Member
Your guides will train you in the techniques and skills to enjoy the adventure. They are there to guide you and to educate you in the requisite skills. It is however up to you to absorb that training and to follow their leadership and instructions. Failing to do so will likely lead to serious consequences. We are, after all, in one of the most extreme habitats on earth.
Your survival and well-being requires you to manage yourself responsibly and to be extremely vigilant in your personal self care. It is up to you to regulate factors such as your food and hydration levels to ensure you have sufficient energy to complete the journey. There will be sufficient food and fluids available for you to ingest but you must discipline yourself to eat and drink. Insufficient intake can lead to a deteriorating condition. You must take extra care when exposed to the elements to not remove gloves and other protective layers at the wrong time as this may lead to frostbite. Your feet will also require diligent attention to ensure you do not get blisters. You will have to pay particular care to not allow a single blister to occur as they will likely get worse rather than better as the trip progresses. A seemingly small oversight by you in looking after yourself can lead to you failing to complete the trip or suffering personal damage. These considerations consume us as we travel and our responsibility to the group is to ensure we stay in good shape to continue on towards the objective.
You also have social responsibilities to the other team members. There may be stresses on the journey that you are not familiar with and it is important that you join the expedition on the understanding that you will contribute to the emotional and physical well being of the other team members.
Conviviality and respect for others is tantamount to a successful expedition outcome.