At the South Pole
Great hikes of Chile: reaching the heart of the frozen continent
The earth’s land surface has been entirely mapped, its mountains scaled and deserts crossed, but at the ends of the earth, true adventures still remain...
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Hiking the Commonwealth Glacier, Antarctica. (Photo by eliduke/Flickr)
More than 750 miles (1,200 km) of cross-country skiing, through temperatures as low as -40 (both Fahrenheit and Celsius), crossing glaciers and snowy expanses, brings you to the center of Antarctica and the chance to stand at the South Pole.
No adventure on earth compares to it, and few can appeal so strongly to the spirit of exploration.
Along with neighbouring Argentina, Chile is the closest country in the world to the Great White Continent, and with significant Antarctic territories, it is one of the few gateways to the region.
Several tour groups organize non-mechanized expeditions from Punta Arenas - the most southerly city in the world - to the South Pole.
And if you’re the type of person who thinks tour groups take the adventure out of travel. . . think again.
For one, you’ll need to put aside two months of your life for one of these hikes. You’ll also be required to haul your own supplies on a sled, and bring enough of it to get you through weeks at a time until you reach designated food caches.
Every day will entail at least eight hours of hiking, at the end of which, you’ll be required to set up the tents and build the snow walls that are required to protect the camp from literally freezing winds, and retain warmth as the temperature plummets. Then you’ll have to set about cooking.
Make no mistake, there is nothing easy about hiking to the South Pole - but that’s exactly why it is one of the world’s last great adventures.
Non-mechanized expeditions to the South Pole are open to everyone, but good physical condition is required, as well as experience in cold conditions and a background in climbing or back country skiing.
For more information contact a tour operator.