The Trek to South Pole

You will begin your trek south of the Nunataks at Hercules Inlet. Make sure that the pilots don't drop you off too far off from the 80.00.00 starting point! An extra day or two might not be a too big deal for a supported expedition, but for you it will be hell.

Travel with your down jacket packed high up in your sled so you can put it on when stopping to make camp or to eat.

Set your camp narrow side of the tent towards the wind. Place the opening away from the wind direction. Tie the tent to the sled or a ski before putting it up or the wind will carry away with it. The tent setup should be quick, with tent stakes taped together and already in position, as it is tricky to raise the tent in very high winds.

Pinch down the snow pegs (already tied to the lines), run skis and ski poles through the tent loops. Cover the tent flaps with snow on all sides.

Unload your sled into the tent. A good aid is to have the sleeping bag in a lightweight stuff sack with a zipper. The stuff sack can hold the sleeping pads, the sleeping bag, the pee bottle, camp booties and other every day stuff. It can travel flat on your sled packed below the tent. That way you just throw in the stuff sack, zip up and find everything ready. Next bring in the kitchen box and the weekly food bag. To that you'll need the medicine bag, the navigation bag and the tech bag. All set. You can leave the camera gear and all else outside unless you plan on camp pictures. The camera will only fog up inside the tent anyway.

Shovel up some snow into the vestibule for melting water. Get in yourself and turn on the stove, placed on the plywood in the vestibule. Fit heat exchangers around the pot to increase efficiency and preserve fuel. Start undressing and change to dry inner layer clothes as you change between boils. Prepare food, do your tech and hang travel clothes on the dry line. Do your navigation. This camp routine is much more pleasant compared to the North Pole as the sun warms the tent and you don't have to worry about stuff icing up.

Prepare water for tomorrow while you eat and do the dishes (scrape of with snow and a small amount of hot water), turn of the stove and get into your sleeping bag. Don't worry about the increasing wind rattling at your tent. The storm always sounds worse from inside the tent. Set your alarm clock and make sure to keep regular travel times. It's easy to sleep in and travel late into night in Antarctica's midnight sun. But you'll soon become jet lagged and tired with the increasing night shifts.

For the next 3-4 days you'll travel towards Patriot Hills, but pass it at a distance. Next you'll spot the “Three sails”; the peaks of three hills facing the sun like three sails in a row. You are climbing uphill towards the first plateau. Once you hit the plateau at 81.00 the incline levels out and the trip gets a bit easier. Midway to the pole, at around 84.00, you spot the transantarctic mountain range. It's a welcome brake to the flat whites up until then. The ice become disturbed as it hits the mainland of old Antarctica and you can expect some crevasses and sastrugi. The crevasses will however be buried if you stay close to our log. Now commence the second climb towards the South Pole plateau at 3000 meters. Your sled is lighter by now which makes up for the increasing altitude.

Somewhere around the 88th degree you reach the plateau and an area of old, troubled sastrugi. The ice changes surface to a sandy gray, the sky covered by a pale haze, the halo dips below the horizon and the entire place takes on an airy “polar” feeling..

A week or so later you spot a strange shadow on the horizon. A few hours later it dissolves into several black dots. The South Pole station! Hours and hours later you approach this space station on earth. Weird industrial type constructions move in slow monotonous patterns, giving away airy, squeaking sounds. After 60 days of solitude, the sight awes you. Closer even, you distinguish flags flapping in the wind, and perhaps a polar vehicle or two crawling on caterpillars between bunkers. But where is the Pole? Continue towards the large buried dome in the middle. Ski to the left, (watch out for the flags marking the burial sites for the Amanda telescope glass cones) and there somewhere you will spot an American flag, swaying by a shiny bowl and a large sign citing Scotts and Amundsens SP arrival words. Ski to the sign, place your hand on it and say your prayer. You just added your name to human polar history. Welcome to the South Pole!