Here is your chance to face 55 days of blisteringly-cold snow and ice as you traverse across Antarctica. Challenge Mother Nature in an expedition across one of the world’s most difficult terrains. And you final goal? To spend Christmas Day at the South Pole.
Your trip begins right at the airport when you arrive in Punta Arenas in Chile. Then you’re whisked to a nearby hotel for a full briefing and a thorough check of your gear. The next day, you’re on your way to load up the plane and make your way to Patriot Hills. This former base camp serves as a back-up runway for intercontinental flights to Antarctica. It’s a blue-ice runway. But don’t dwell on that part. The pilots know what they’re doing, that’s all you need to remember.
Now you find yourself in day four (yes, we’re on day four already!), which you spend at Patriot Hills. Here you pack you food and supplies onto the sledges that will accompany you on your journey. Since you’re not going to be stopping anywhere for extra supplies en route, You need 55 days’ worth of grub with you. Some expeditions rely on food caches to get them all the way to the South Pole. But not yours – this is a completely unsupported trip.
And then, at last, the day arrives. Strap on your skis and set out on the 600-mile journey to the South Pole.
You’ll cover about 12-15 miles a day, weather permitting. And you’ll be on the move almost every day. Don’t fret, there are occasional rest days of course. Nevertheless, be prepared for a long, hard slog. Nights are spent camping in the snow – although don’t expect darkness. Don’t forget, it’s summertime in Antarctica. This means 24-hour daylight and the slightly unnerving (at first) midnight sun. Not to worry though, you get used to it pretty quickly. Besides, you’ll be so tired after the day’s journey that even the most sensitive of sleepers will be out for the count.
If you keep on schedule – and this is Antarctica, so it can be a bit unpredictable – you’ll make it to the South Pole in time for Christmas Day.
So what can you expect from a South Pole Christmas? Well, there’s a tree for a start, made of junk and positioned near the distinctive red-and-white Ceremonial South Pole. And there’s a proper Christmas dinner at the Amundsen-Scott Station. So try to blag yourself an invitation (you might have to accept that the veg are frozen and there’s no bread sauce). Cheer on the workers stationed here in their annual Race Around the World. A dash, often in fancy dress, around the Pole, passing through every time zone. The prize? A five-minute hot shower (they’re usually only allowed two minutes).
This really is a Christmas you’ll never forget. And once your expedition is over, Santa arrives at the South Pole to fly you back to Chile. Oh, okay. Sometimes he sends a pilot instead.
Aventuras Patagonicas’ expedition goes all the way to the South Pole, Antarctica.
What you need to know:
It’s impossible to guarantee that Christmas will be spent at the South Pole – that depends on whether or not the group stays on schedule. Remember, this is not a beginner trip. You need to be excellent physical health to sign up for the expedition. And you have to have experience of winter mountaineering and be committed to finishing the journey. The small print makes it very clear – “you are responsible for expenses incurred in the case of a rescue”. Uh-huh. If you change your mind halfway through, there’s no turning back…