Explorers and history buffs prepare for South Pole centennial trips

Roald Amundsen's party at the South Pole. Photo taken by Amundsen December 14, 1911.

On December 14, 1911, Norwegian Roald Amundsen and four other team members became the first people (along with 16 dogs) to reach the South Pole.

A month later Robert Falcon Scott arrived on January 17, 1912. He and his four teammates died on the return trip.

The South Pole can expect an increase in traffic for the 100-year anniversaries of the historic expeditions. Numerous polar explorers, athletes, scientists, and history buffs plan to follow in Amundsen and Scott's steps — or ski tracks as the case may be — and converge upon the pole.

If you're not prepared to mount your own polar expedition, several companies are offering centenary polar trips:

Extreme World Races is going the competitive route with its 704-kilometer (437-mile) EWR Centenary Race to the South Pole. Calling it "the toughest endurance race on the planet," the event starts December 14, 2011, and is estimated to take teams 30 to 45 days to reach the pole.

Scott's ill-fated expedition party at the South Pole, January 18, 1912. Edward Wilson, Scott, and Lawrence Oates (standing); Henry Bowers and Edgar Evans (sitting).

From EWR: Starting from the frozen coastline of Novo, up to 60 competitors will race to be the first to the South Pole. On the way, they’ll negotiate multiple crevasses, cross snow bridges, and climb to 3000m on the high polar plateau. Add to that catabatic winds up to 80mph and temperatures dropping as low as -40C, and you can see why this is the ultimate extreme endurance race. And it’s all set in the stunning landscape of one of the coldest, driest, and highest deserts on earth.

If that sounds like too much work to reach the South Pole, compare it with Polar Explorers' Amundsen Centennial and Scott Centennial Flights. For $40,500 the polar guiding company will fly you directly to the South Pole around the historic date of one of the expeditions. There's also an option to ski the last 20 kilometers to the pole.

Polar Explorers' qualifications:All of these trips require that you can climb several stairs into and out of the plane as well as being able to walk across the uneven terrain of the ice. We can assist you as necessary. The South Pole Champagne Flight requires you to sleep in a tent (with a very warm sleeping bag). To best enjoy this adventure you should be in moderate shape.

The Amundsen-Scott research station, run by the National Science Foundation, is warning potential visitors that it's “not set up for tourism,” as Evan Bloom of the State Department told The New York Times. “We want other governments to get the word out that people should not simply show up at the South Pole.”

Scott famously wrote in his diary upon reaching the pole too late: "The worst has happened"; "All the day dreams must go"; "Great God! This is an awful place."

One wonders what he and Amundsen would think of the upcoming events in their honor.

via The New York Times "Tourists Mimic Polar Pioneers, Except With Planes and Blogs"

Filed under: Events, Places


62 reviewer rep
312 forum posts
February 8, 2011 at 12:12 p.m. (EST)

This is capital news, Alicia! I'm definitely on board for the Champagne Flight - a chance to take part in exploration history if I ever saw one.

Just a few things: How many cases (of champagne) are we allowed each and can we bring our own porters? Do the Eskimos speak english? Will there be a place to pick up souvenirs (I've promised my niece I'd get her an Emperor Penguin's egg)?

I've no problems walking across stairs or climbing uneven terrain, as long as it's not first thing each morning. And with a bit of Swedish Drill before breakfast (Bloody Mary?) I can be in "moderate shape" for most of the day.

Tip top!

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