Extreme Adventures in Antarctica
This is the final in my series of blog entries on Antarctic travel. Everything about extreme travel in Antarctica requires detailed planning. You will certainly want to document your journey, for yourself, and probably for sponsors. You should certainly contact people who have undertaken such an adventure before for advice. Light weight and robust are certainly major considerations. But simplicity, ease of use, and redundancy come in next. Things that work perfectly every time in normal conditions will suddenly stop working on the Antarctic plateau and there will nothing more frustrating than not being able to do anything about it.
Antarctica has many challenges for the adventurous. In the last few years there has been an addition to the adventure category, softer adventures. This ranges from spending a night in a tent in Antarctica to being flow to within 1 degree latitude of the South Pole and skiing the remaining 60 miles yourself. This is still a serious undertaking. But the true limit of what adventures can be accomplished in Antarctica is only limited by your imagination.
Ski to the South Pole
As mentioned above ANI will fly a group of people to within 1 degree latitude to ski the remaining 60 nautical miles. We have also had groups come in from shorter distances, usually 10 miles. This gives people who are slightly less than super human to say they have skied to the South Pole. If you are fit, run marathons for instance, this might be an interesting challenge. However don't underestimate the effort required.
Instead of going to the South Pole, ANI will drop you off near Vison Massif giving you the opportunity to climb Antarctica's highest mountain. If you are an experienced mountaineer this will probably not be a big challenge and you might also consider some of the more challenging mountains near by. If you have limited experience it still remains a viable climb with the help of an experienced consultant such as the one I list below.
Looking at the ANI web site they are offering many options for climbing expeditions, in the Ellsworth Mountains, Dronning Maud Land, or the Trans-Antarctic in general. How can any climber not want to go on one of these trips? There are so many peaks to explore. One wouldn't have to look far to find worthy peaks unclimbed waiting for your name on it. Even if you are an experienced alpine climber I recommend you consider inviting someone with polar experience along. And if you want someone to tell tall stories while cooking your dinner, I'm available.
Push the Limits of Human Endurance
Crossing Antarctica without powered support remains one of the most daunting human endurance challenges. I'm sure anyone contemplating such a trip is aware that Antarctica has special challenges, and much research is required. I would highly recommend not only contacting people who have undertaken similar challenges, but also hiring a professional field guide who has extensive experience in Antarctica to help with planning. Some of the advantages include having someone that is familiar with emergency procedures of the national Antarctic programs, having personal contacts within these programs to help with permits etc, to having someone with a good feel for weather considerations and food and equipment options based on personal experience in Antarctica. I would highly recommend Andy Cianchi who was the Field Officer at Casey my second summer there, and who took me to Gaussberg and Mount Brown as his assistant.
Photo credits: Darryn Schneider.