Ski To The South Pole Just Like Prince Harry!

Skiing the last degree to the South PoleYesterday, we told you that Britain’s Prince Harry is planning on joining an expedition to the South Pole later this year in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the Walking with the Wounded program. The adventurous Prince will take part in a cross-country skiing race that will cover 335 kilometers (208 miles) in approximately 16 days, crossing the final three degrees of latitude before reaching 90°S. This will be a grand adventure to say the least, but did you know that you could go on a similar expedition yourself? That is, provided you are physically fit and have plenty of cash.

There are a number of adventure travel companies that offer what is known as a “last degree” journey to the South Pole. Those taking part in such a trip will spend their days skiing across the frozen expanse of the Antarctic Plateau and their nights in a winter camp on the frozen continent. Most itineraries cover about 60 miles in ten days, with the trip culminating with their arrival at the southern-most point on the planet.

Participants on a last degree expedition will need to be in excellent shape as they will be skiing over very tough terrain while pulling a sled filled with gear behind them at all times. They’ll also have to be capable of enduring cold weather, unexpected storms and harrowing whiteout conditions, which can arise unexpectedly. This is certainly not a trip for someone who prefers to take it easy on their vacations, as this type of expedition will push travelers to their physical limits.This isn’t a trip for someone with a small bank account either. A last degree journey to the South Pole will set you back approximately $58,000. Yes, you read that right – $58,000. That cost includes transportation to your starting point in Antarctica and a pick-up at the Pole, as well as guides, meals, support staff and everything you’ll need while out on the ice. International airfare to and from Punta Arenas, Chile, the usual starting point for an Antarctic adventure, is not included.

If you have the cash and the adventurous spirit required to undertake this type of journey, some of the companies that provide a last degree expedition to the South Pole include Adventure Network International, the Adventure Consultants, Abercrombie & Kent and Alpine Ascents. Personally, I’d love to do this trip, but unfortunately I only have one of the two requirements. Can you guess which one?

[Photo Credit: Adventure Network International]

Visit the South Pole with Abercrombie & Kent

In January of 1909, the famous British explorer Ernest Shackleton made an attempt to become the first man to reach the South Pole. He, and his three companions struggled mightily against the elements, but eventually were turned back just 97 miles short of their goal. That expedition established a new record for the furthest distance traveled south, and upon his safe return home to England, Shackleton was knighted for his efforts.

Those explorers reached 88º23’S, which just so happens to be roughly the same spot that Abercrombie & Kent’s Conquering the Final Degree expedition begins. On that trip, adventure travelers won’t walk in the footsteps of Shackleton, they’ll actually finish what he started. They’ll travel on skis to the Geographic South Pole, pulling 120-pound sleds, carrying all of their gear and supplies behind them while they go, crossing through the last great wilderness on the planet –the frozen continent of Antarctica.

The 18 day journey begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile, one of the southernmost cities in the world. From there, the team will catch a flight across the Southern Ocean to Patriot Hills, a campsite located on the Antarctic continent itself. When a suitable weather window opens, they’ll move on, via ski plane, to the Thiel Mountains, a remote and rugged chain of peaks that few people ever see. The journey really gets underway once they reach 89ºS, and the group transitions to their skis for the final leg of the trip. The following 7-8 days will be spent completing the “final degree” before arriving at the very bottom of the world, the South Pole, itself.

For adventure travelers, this may be the ultimate adventure travel experience. A true once in a life time opportunity. While the adventure travel market continues to explode, with new destinations and activities being offered all the time, a last degree journey to the South Pole is as authentic of an adventure experience as you’ll ever get.