Monday, October 31, 2016
Antarctica 2016: Interactive Map Explains Ski Routes to the South Pole
The map is hosted at ExplorersHouse.com and includes 9 different paths that explorers use when traveling to the the South Pole as well as 1 path to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility. Clicking on any of the routes will provide information about its length, who first pioneered it, and the year in which it was traveled. For instance, both Amundsen and Scott Routes are marked on the map, which were first opened back in 1911-1912, when the two legendary explorers were battling one another to be the first to reach the South Pole.
Explorer House included some text with the map that provides context on what exactly a "valid" expedition truly means. In this case, that is defined as starting anywhere along the Antarctic coast and skiing all the way to the South Pole. This rules out a "last degree" journey of course, which is exactly what it sounds like – a short ski expedition from 89ºS to 90ºS. Those "tourist trips" are typically only about 100 km (62 miles) in length, while a full expedition covers more than 1000 km (620 miles).
As we head into the start of a new Antarctic season, you'll find that the vast majority of the skiers are using the Hercules Inlet Route, which has become the standard for these types of expeditions. They'll fly out of Punta Arenas and land at the ice camp that is built and maintained by ALE at Union Glacier. From there, they'll catch another short flight to ferry them out to their starting point. If they are going solo and unsupported, they'll all be dropped off at unique locations to begin the journey, as the rules for adventure state that they can't have any contact with another individual along the way in order to maintain that status.
Later this week – weather permitting – the first teams will begin their march to the Pole. Once they're underway, we'll provide regular updates on their progress. There are a number of goods stories to follow, so it should be an interesting year in the Antarctic.