Mount Vinson

(16,067ft/4,897m), Antarctica

Alpine Ascents South Pole Expedition Itinerary Overview

For Travel Arrangements call Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. charles@scaneastwest.com

Day-to-day Itinerary
Day 1 Upon your arrival at the airport in Punta Arenas you will be met by a staff member who will accompany you back into town, settle you into your hotel and provide you with information on Punta Arenas and the surrounding areas. We schedule a time to check your Antarctic clothing and ensure that nothing has been inadvertently forgotten.

Day 2 In the evening you are invited to join us for an Antarctic presentation and cocktail reception. The presentation includes information on your flight South, the current weather situation and what to expect upon arrival in Antarctica.

Apart from the presentation and the agreed time to check your clothing you are free throughout the day to explore the city.

Every effort will be made to keep to the scheduled departure date but please note that all flights are dependent on weather and local conditions. You will be notified of any schedule changes.

Day 3 As soon as the weather is suitable we will call you at your hotel and advise you of the time of departure.

Your Flight South
The flight time from Punta Arenas to the Union Glacier camp is approximately 4.5 hours, depending on the winds. The initial part of our flight passes over Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost area in Chile. The ocean below has been notorious throughout modern history for its wild storms, violent winds and heavy seas. Waves higher than 100 feet have been encountered in the Drake Passage by several ships and many early seamen lost their lives to these waters in the quest to find new lands.

At approximately 60 degrees latitude we reach the winter limits of frozen seas. This area of ocean is called the Antarctic Convergence and is rich in plankton and other tiny creatures that form the bottom of the food chain for Antarctica's rich bird and wildlife colonies. We are now entering the area governed by the Antarctic Treaty.

At 66 degrees latitude we cross the Antarctic Circle. Along this circle the sun never sets at the austral summer solstice and never rises at the austral winter solstice. Further South these Antarctic days and nights lengthen until at the South Pole the sun rises and sets only once a year.

Continuing our flight South and if weather conditions below co-operate, we may see tabular icebergs and the ice shelves from which they calve below us. Some of these bergs can be the size of a small country and become a method of transport and a home for penguins and seals.

Our first sight of the icy continent appears at Charcot Island close to Alexander Island, 71 degrees latitude. The ice sheet continues to stretch inland until in the distance appear the spectacular Ellsworth Mountains, the highest range in Antarctica. Passing over the Ellsworth Range, our runway comes into sight. The wheeled aircraft lands on an area of blue ice which is 3,300 ft (1,000m) above sea level. The blue ice remains clear of snow due to the Katabatic winds which tunnel down from the mountains with great force. You are now warmly welcomed to the camp at Union Glacier, Antarctica.

An introduction to our staff is followed by a tour and orientation of the camp and the surrounding area. You will be shown to your accommodation and settled down to a welcoming meal.

Day 4 The Ski Last Degree expedition team will meet in the morning for a group brunch and final briefing regarding the next few days journey. Bring a pen, paper and any questions you may have to the meeting.

At Union Glacier there is a large area of windswept blue ice, which serves as the runway for the operation. Here at this camp at the southern end of the Ellsworth Mountains we check our equipment and take 8 days of food with us for our journey.

We fly to the Thiel Mountains in our specially equipped aircraft, refuel and then fly to 89 degrees South, 60nm from our goal and where we begin our journey to the Geographic South Pole.

Days 5-13 Our first day of skiing and pulling our sleds. We may well notice the altitude here in our breathing and our stamina. We are at almost 9,000 feet and because of the density of the air; it feels like 12,000 feet.

We may start off on quite windblown snow conditions as this area of the plateau still has some occasional wind. As we move towards the pole the terrain gradually becomes slightly less windblown and the snow surface becomes a little softer. We will still encounter patches of sastrugi; the wind blown snow that caused Scott and Amundsen much grief. Today these patches can be as high as 6 to 8 feet and are no less challenging. We attempt to weave our way through them, without sleds flipping over or becoming stuck in the hollows. We can tell from the huge dips and swales we are travelling through that there may be monster crevasses in the area, however there is no need to rope up, the addition of our weight to the snow load over these massive bridges is minuscule.

We develop a regular rhythm, beginning with breakfast at 8am and skiing by 10am. We stop for 5 minutes every hour and begin eating our lunch when we are hungry from noon onwards during these breaks. We will stop by 5pm to set up camp and have supper. There is time in the evening for reading, talking or other camp activity. As the sun is up for the whole 24 hours we are often quite warm in the tents and clothing that is damp from perspiration dries easily in the warmth. We expect to average 10 miles per day, starting off with 5 to 6 miles per day for the first few days and increasing as we acclimatise, develop our systems and a travelling rhythm.

As we approach the South Pole we will first see the outline of the station on the horizon. We will see the research station itself from 15 miles away. Those last 15 miles can seem the longest!

Soon, we should be completing the final steps to our goal… The Geographic South Pole and the most southerly point on earth - beneath your feet 360 lines of longitude collide and the ice is almost 3000m (10,000ft) thick.

On arrival you become part of a small group of less than 300 people who reached the South Pole overland by ski. Congratulations!

Day 14 The completion of this incredible journey will be the return flight to Union Glacier of approximately 6 hours over the polar plateau. When you arrive back at Union Glacier camp we will have a celebration dinner where you can contemplate and enjoy your wonderful achievement – a marvellous story that so few have lived!

Day 15 At Union Glacier camp you can rest and recover from the last few days, or you can take part in a number of activities that will be going on around camp. You can hear, first hand, the experiences of other adventure travellers and climbers returning from their expeditions within the white desert. The choice is entirely yours.

Day 16 Weather permitting, the aircraft from Punta Arenas arrives in Union Glacier with a new collection of avid explorers and will take off with your group for the final leg of your Antarctic journey.

Once back in Punta Arenas you will be met by staff at the airport with details of your onward flight schedule. We will assist wherever possible with any questions or queries you may have.

Note: Every effort will be made to follow the above itinerary but please note that it is offered subject to change at the discretion of ANI staff based on weather and local conditions.

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