Day -2: Meeting in Punta Arenas. Accommodation in individually booked hotel.
Day -1: While enjoying a Pisco Sour, cooled on ancient Antarctic ice, we talk about the plans for the upcoming days. We will check the equipment and prepare ourselves for the departure.
Day 1: We will check current conditions in Antarctica. Please consider that we land on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway on Union Glacier which cannot be prepared like a commercial airport. If conditions allow, our journey to the South Pole begins. Our route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. After a 4 ¼ hour flight we land on the Blue Ice Runway on Union Glacier where you will take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard one of the specially-adapted vans for the 5 mi (8 km) shuttle to the main camp.
Day 2-3: You will spend a couple of days at Union Glacier to test your clothing and equipment and practice sled hauling on a mini-expedition outside of camp with your team. Then you’ll pack your sleds and ready for departure.
Day 4: Fly by ski aircraft to 89° South, 60 nautical miles (69 mi/111 km) from the South Pole. As the aircraft disappears from view, you’ll be struck by the stark beauty and emptiness surrounding you. There is nothing but snow and wide horizons in all directions.
Your team will pack sleds and ski a short distance before setting up camp for your first night on expedition.
Day 5-9: Continuing your trek south, you’ll ski longer periods each day to begin acclimatizing to the cold and altitude. The elevation here is 9,300 ft (2835 m) but to your body it will feel more like 11,000 ft (3300 m) due to the lower atmospheric pressure at the poles. Throughout the expedition you’ll notice the altitude’s impact on your breathing and your stamina.
This journey is physically demanding. Your sled will weigh approximately 66 lb (30 kg) and the snow may be sculpted by the wind into steep ridges called sastrugi, adding to the challenge. Acclimatizing slowly gives your team its best chance for success. We´ll make a series of 1 hour marches stopping for 5-10 minutes each hour for a brief rest and snack break. This way we can travel 8-9 hours every day.
The Amundsen-Scott Station may be visible from around 15 mi (24 km) away but those last miles can seem the longest and may take another 1-2 days of travel. This might be the toughest section of the expedition.
Day 10: Finally, you’ll take the last steps to your goal and reach the most southerly point on Earth – the Geographic South Pole! Here, beneath your feet, all 360 lines of longitude meet and the ice is almost 10,000 ft (3000 m) thick.
Feel the satisfaction of having arrived here under your own power and reflect on how it must have felt to stand in this place over one hundred years ago, with only the sound of the wind and an endless expanse of white stretching northward in all directions. If time allows, and personnel of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) is available, there will be a short tour around the Amundsen Scott Station. Dependent on the time of our pickup, we will either camp for one more night or return to the Union Glacier the same day.
Day 11: Our field staff will stay in close contact with Union Glacier Camp to identify the best ‘weather window’ for your safe return flight.
Depending on flights, your team’s celebration dinner may take place at our South Pole camp or upon your return to Union Glacier. You’ll receive a certificate to commemorate your Ski Last Degree Expedition and may have at least one day to explore more of Union Glacier before departing Antarctica.
Day 12: When weather and runway conditions permit, our intercontinental aircraft will arrive at Union Glacier to transport you back to Chile. Our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to your hotel
Flight home: We recommend booking your flight home one week after your return Antarctic flight. If you purchase a full-fare ticket, most airlines will allow you to move your departure date. It is important to give yourself a buffer as delays are common in Antarctic travel. Our Punta Arenas team can provide a list of local tour operators and excursions if you wish to explore Chile before you return home.