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Summit Team Building

What type of Equipment is Required for an Antarctic Expedition? Part 2

This is a continuation of the clothing and gear requirements for an Antarctic expedition.

Skiing: For skiing I have covered the boot system. Now you need skis, skins and poles. Once again there are endless options for skis. We will use a traditional cross-country ski. Few people use a wax ski these days. A backcountry style ski is best as it has metal edges for increased control and it strong to withstand the extended abuse it will take in an expedition environment. I prefer a wider ski like the Rossignol BC 125. This ski is wide and short providing good stability, grip and control. Some people prefer a longer and thinner traditional style ski that is faster, but less stable. The Rossignol ski has a posi track scale pattern on the base to provide grip when pulling a sled, but frequently this is not enough when the sled weight gets really heavy. In this case we add backcountry ski skins what cover the length of the ski and provide a huge amount of traction, but at the sacrifice of glide. Basically your skis become a slightly more efficient set of snowshoes. For poles you can use an adjustable trekking style pole or a solid shaft ski pole. Although the trekking poles will work the solid shaft poles are much stronger to deal with the abuse and stress they will endure on a polar expedition. We always bring a spare ski, binding and pole as well as a well stocked repair kit just in case something breaks. The last piece of equipment for skiing is your sled. This is what everything will go into and you will drag across Antarctica. Because we are doing a last degree trip our sleds will be smaller than a full from the coast trip. You can use plastic or fiberglass sleds and both will work for our purposes. My two team members will have 60” plastic Paris Expeditions sleds with a sled bag to hold all the gear. I will have a larger fiberglass full size sled as I will be pulling a larger amount of the gear.

Camping: This stockpile of gear consists of tent, sleeping system and cooking system. For tents we will use a Hilleberg Keron 4 which is a 4-person tube style tent. We will have two people per tent so there is plenty of living space and will put a 1cm foam mat on the floor to insulate us from the snow. This style of tent is best in Polar environments where the wind comes from a consistent direction. When pitched into the wind this tent is very strong, but if the wind direction changes and it hots from the side the tent this could cause issues. This tent is very fast to set up and take down and is very light for its size. Each person will have a sleeping pad for further insulation and a -40 sleeping bag for a comfortable sleep. For cooking We will have 3 MSR XGK and Wisperlite stoves. I will use 1-2 at a time, but you always want to have a back up incase a stove breaks down.

Navigation: This is a critical element when one is trying to ski to the South Pole. I will use a GPS that has the South Pole coordinates pre-loaded into it. Each day I will use the GPS to get our compass bearing and then dial this into the compass and use the compass go guide us for the day. The compass will keep us moving in a relatively straight line as without it you may think you are walking straight, but you are in reality likely veering off on a pretty wild angle. I will mark each camp and keep track of the distance travelled and the distance to go. We will review our progress on a map every night and make a plan for the next day.

That is a simple review of what all you need to take with you for a Polar ski expedition to the South Pole. It is a huge amount of stuff and I did not even talk about food (I will do so in a future blog). This is why you do not take anything extra and everything must be of high quality and as light as possible. Every oz counts.

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