Ski Last Degree
Ski 60 nautical miles and reach the South Pole through your own efforts and the support of your team. Complete this polar challenge to stand at the most southerly point on Earth!
The essence of polar exploration is captured in this incredible two-week, expedition style trip. Experience first-hand the challenges faced by early explorers as you journey by ski across the vast Antarctic landscape that is at the same time harsh, unforgiving and unimaginably beautiful.
Ski Last Degree is the ideal choice for those who want the serious challenge of a polar expedition but do not have the time or resources to commit to a full-length expedition from the coast. The journey begins at 89° South, where you are dropped by ski aircraft. You travel by ski and with sleds the last 60 nautical miles (111km) to the most southerly point on Earth – the Geographic South Pole.
The rewards for your efforts are tangible – the bonds of friendship built through shared challenge and the knowledge that you have arrived at the ultimate destination, the South Pole, through your own effort and determination.
Union Glacier Camp
The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at our main Antarctic camp at Union Glacier. You’ll find roomy, double occupancy sleeping tents; a spacious dining hall; fresh delicious meals; and a spectacular setting. You’ll be surprised how comfortable Antarctica can be! Our full-service camp is designed for Antarctic conditions and with best environmental practices in mind. It operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season.
Our Emperor Penguin, ski expedition, climbing and other field camps are more basic. Equipment must be lightweight and portable, yet still strong enough to withstand Antarctic conditions. We sleep in mountaineering-style tents and eat a combination of fresh-frozen meals, prepared by our chefs at Union Glacier; and de-hydrated meals.
Extremely strenuous trips include skiing and climbing expeditions in the most remote corners of Antarctica, where physiological altitude may exceed 11,000 feet (3350m) for many days in a row, and temperatures may drop below (–40°F / –40°C), with severe wind chill and storms. You will be active for 8-12 hours a day carrying or hauling heavy loads for many days in a row. You must have the physical ability to cover a minimum daily distance and the mental stamina to continue in extreme conditions when you are physically tired. Technical skill, a high level of strength and aerobic fitness, and commitment to a dedicated pre-trip training program are required.
|Trip Code||To Antarctica||From Antarctica||Duration||Price (US$) *||Availability|
|LD1||Dec 7 2014||Dec 18 2014||12 days||$58,900||Available|
|LD2||Dec 18 2014||Dec 29 2014||12 days||$58,900||Available|
|LD3||Jan 3 2015||Jan 14 2015||12 days||$58,900||Available|
Dates & Rates Notes
* We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.
ALL ANI Experiences include:
- Transfers to and from Punta Arenas airport, Chile
- Briefing with refreshments in Punta Arenas one day prior to departure
- Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
- All flights within Antarctica as shown in your itinerary
- Meals and accommodation while in Antarctica
- Expedition Guide(s) (and naturalist or lecturer on some Experiences)
- Use of recreational equipment at Union Glacier Camp
- Official and personalised ANI Certificate of Achievement
- A Baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg) on Punta Arenas-Union Glacier flight
(Baggage allowance of up to 66lb (30kg) for Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet, Messner and Footsteps of Amundsen Expeditions)
SOME Experiences include:
- Group camping equipment (when travelling beyond Union Glacier Camp)
- Group climbing equipment (climbing expeditions)
- Sled, harness, ski pole pogies (all ski expeditions)
- Skis, ski skins, ski poles (Ski Last Degree)
Experiences DO NOT include:
- Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas
- Flights within Antarctica, other than those shown in itinerary
- Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
- Airport transfers other than in Punta Arenas
- Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent from ANI for some Experiences)
- Expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays
- Any excess baggage costs over confirmed baggage allowance
- Cost for the use of satellite phone whilst in Antarctica
- Insurance coverage – personal, medical, evacuation or otherwise
Day 1 Fly to Antarctica
Depart Punta Arenas Chile. Fly 4 ¼ hrs to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on our ice runway and settle in at Union Glacier Camp
Day 2 Acclimatize to Antarctica
Today is an easy day to acclimatize to Antarctic conditions and become familiar with expedition equipment. We will review expedition logistics with our guide, go for a scenic ski and prepare for our mini-expedition.
Days 3-4 Mini-Expedition
We get our first taste of sled hauling with an overnight mini-expedition. We will make several marches and set a field camp on the Union Glacier. This gives us an opportunity to practice pacing and navigation, and to fine tune our clothing and camping systems before heading into the deep field. The next morning we return to base camp.
Day 5 Fly to 89°S
We fly by ski aircraft to 89°S, 60 nautical miles from the South Pole. As the aircraft disappears from view, we are struck by the stark beauty and emptiness of this place. There is nothing but snow and wide horizons in all directions. We ski a short distance, or camp at our drop-off point to acclimatize to the extreme cold and altitude.
Days 6-10 Ski to the South Pole
We begin our trek south, a self-sufficient team ‘man-hauling’ all of our equipment and supplies. We start slowly to acclimatize, gradually increasing our travel-time to about 8 hours a day. The journey is physically demanding. Our sleds weigh approximately 66lb (30kg) and the snow may be sculpted by the wind into steep ridges called “sastrugi”, adding to the challenge. As on all expeditions, success is a team effort. The group will travel together and participants will be expected to help set up camp and prepare meals at the end of the day. The Amundsen-Scott research station will be visible from about 15 miles (24km) out – those last few miles can seem the longest!
Day 11 The South Pole
Today we complete the final steps to our goal – the Geographic South Pole – and the most southerly point on Earth. Feel the satisfaction of having arrived here through your own effort and reflect on how it must have felt to stand in this place one hundred years ago, with only the sound of the wind and an endless expanse of white stretching northward in all directions. We will set up camp in the designated camping area while waiting for our pick-up by ANI ski aircraft.
The South Pole has been designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5) to conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we may spend at the South Pole.
Day 12 Return to Union Glacier
The completion of this incredible journey will be the return flight to Union Glacier over the polar plateau. Once back at Union Glacier Camp we will enjoy a celebration dinner and toast our wonderful achievement. We have journeyed overland to the Pole, joining an elite group who have challenged the ‘real Antarctica’ of polar explorers. At camp you can rest and recover from the expedition, or take part in excursions and activities that will be going on around camp. The choice is yours.
Day 13* Return to Punta Arenas, Chile
The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.
No two Antarctic experiences are the same and trip details may not be exactly as described. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. Trip length may vary by departure.
Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this Experience. More FAQ's can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Weather and Environment
Will it be cold?
All of our journeys take place in the Antarctic summer (November through January) when the weather is at its best. We advise on suitable clothing so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.
The interior of Antarctica has a cold, dry, windy climate. Average mid-season temperatures at our base camp range from 10F to 25F (-12C to -4C ). On a sunny windless day it can feel quite warm but, when the wind blows, you will be glad of warm layers and a wind jacket. Temperatures can drop as low as -22F (-30C) in early November.
- At the South Pole temperatures rarely climb above -13F (-25C) with light winds and wind chill of -40F (-40C).
- Weather at the Emperor rookery is highly variable and influenced by coastal systems. Temperatures range from
-22F (-30C) to near 32F (0C) with sunny and overcast skies and the possibility of heavy snowstorms.
- Mount Vinson climbers and skiers heading to the South Pole should prepare for extreme temperatures -40F (-40C) and severe storms.
Safety, Medical and Insurance
Do I need travel insurance?
All ANI guests are required to provide cover for medical evacuation, due to the high cost of evacuation from Antarctica.
We also strongly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance, to protect you in case you need to cancel for any reason. ANI Experiences are non-refundable within 90 days of departure.
Find more information and links to purchase travel insurance on our Travel Insurance pages.
Schedule and Itinerary
Will the itinerary be exactly the same as shown on the website?
Our itineraries are meant as a guide, to give you an idea of the kinds of activities and the flow of each Experience. However no two trips are exactly the same - and that is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. Your unique itinerary will be tailored to your interests and abilities, weather conditions and coordination with other groups on the ice. Flight schedules are flexible and you should expect delays due to the unpredictable nature of Antarctic weather, runway conditions and other logistics.
When should I arrive?
For most Experiences we ask that you arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days (48 hours) before your scheduled departure. This allows time for clothing and equipment checks and provides a buffer in case you should miss a flight connection or have lost luggage. An environmental and logistics briefing will be held at 10am on the morning prior to departure. We will collect your luggage and load the aircraft that afternoon, ready for departure.
Guests on longer ski traverses should arrive at least four full days prior to departure. We will spend the additional two days getting to know the team, reviewing expedition plans, making any last minute adjustments to equipment and finally packing our sleds ready for departure.
Please note that we cannot hold Antarctic flights for guests who are delayed arriving or who have lost luggage. We recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your trip, without the stress of tight timelines.
Clothing and Equipment
I'm not sure I have the correct equipment?
We provide detailed clothing and equipment lists for all of our Experiences. If you still have questions after reading our equipment lists and overview just drop us a line and we will be more than happy to help.
Booking and Payment Information
I'm ready to book. What do I do?
Please email or call our office to confirm availablity on your chosen Experience and departure. We will ask you to fill out a medical form (and resume of experience for climbing and ski expeditions). Please fill these forms out completely and honestly. If we have any questions or concerns, we will work with you to resolve them. Once these have been approved, we will ask you send a deposit of $US 5000 to confirm your reservation.
Skills and Experience
Ski Last Degree is an achievable goal for healthy, active individuals, who have camping and ski experience, a high level of fitness, and who are prepared to train regularly in preparation for the journey. We ask all participants to submit a resume of their ski expedition experience, so that we can tailor the itinerary to your level of skill and experience and make suggestions for further training.
Most of our guests – and guides – comment that their expedition was harder than they expected. The physiological altitude (11,000 ft / 3353m), cold temperatures (22°F / -30°C), wind-chill, and ‘sticky’ snow make this a very physically demanding trip.
Begin a regular training program to increase aerobic fitness and strength. Running, hiking, cycling and swimming are all good activities to improve general fitness. However training that mimics your planned activity is most effective. Bear in mind that extreme weather and altitude will greatly increase the physical challenge of your trip.
Drag tires along the beach, over grass, or anywhere that gives some resistance. Use ski poles to strengthen the arms and shoulder girdle and to accustom the body to the skiing/poling motion. Gradually increase the number of tires and length of workout. For Ski Last Degree your goal is to be comfortable dragging a sled weighing 66 lbs (30 kg) for six to eight hours.