Cross-country Skiing in Antarctica

January 15, 2007 by  
Filed under features

Antarctica was long considered the “final frontier” for Alpine and Nordic skiers. In a sense this is somewhat ironic, as all of the early Antarctic explorers including Amundsen and Scott traveled on skis. Certainly snow is not a problem when one thinks of Antarctica – it’s getting there that’s been the hold-up. No longer, though, thanks to a company called Adventure Network International. Established in 1985, Salt Lake City, Utah based ANI opened up the Southern Continent to recreational tourism by providing a safe and reliable air travel and ground support network to satisfy the needs of their customers.

The company provides round trip flights from Punta Arenas in southern Chile with stopovers at several Antarctic locations including 16,000 ft. high Vinson Massif, the Emperor Penguin colony at Dawson-Lambton Glacier and even the South Pole itself!

Adventure Network International has arranged a set of ski programs that allow modern-day adventurers to experience the combination of exhilaration and terror those early explorers faced nearly a century ago. The “Ski All The Way” program is just that: a 65 day, 730 mile trip from Hercules Inlet on the coast all the way south, right to the Pole itself. Skiers can expect to put in at least 7 hours a day skiing; dragging a hundred-pound sled behind them and gradually climbing 9,300 feet to the windswept Antarctic Plateau. Above are the bluest skies you’ll ever see; below lies 10,000 feet of compacted snow and ice. One thing the skiers won’t have to worry about is darkness – in the Antarctic summer, the sun never sets!

Of course, “summer” is a relative term. This is Antarctica after all, and even at its warmest, the winds that howl over the treeless snowscape are bone-chillingly cold. Skiing the frozen continent may be the toughest thing any sportsman or sportswoman will ever do, but just imagine the feeling of arriving at the South Pole by your own power. Think about it: as you ski a tight circle around the Pole, you’re also skiing around the world. Add that one to your resume!