The last degree
From 02.12.2008 to 25.12.2008 - Status: success
The IceAxeTV company gives a number of people the opportunity to practise their polar skills out on the Antarctic icecap. It gives people the opportunity to complete a journey in the best possible conditions over the final one degree of latitude before reaching the South Pole (approximately 111 km).
Doug Stoup has been a professional polar guide for over ten years and has led many tourists on trips to both the North and South Poles.
This particular exercise has been virtually identical for many years now. A Twin Otter (a helicopter is usually used when attempting the North Pole) drops the group of travellers off approximately 120 kilometres away from the Pole. These trips are called the "last degree", because one degree of latitude represents about 111 km. It is always in this area that the polar tourists are dropped off.
The relatively short distance gives first-timers the time to familiarise themselves with the conditions of extreme cold and the difficulties of making progress on this type of terrain. That is, without having to endure the hazards of an extended period of time out on the ice. Covering the last degree takes about ten days and depends on the physical fitness of each of the participants.
It goes without saying for this type of trip that maximum precautions are taken in terms of safety. Operating at a hundred or so kilometres from the Poles is never too dangerous because comfort, communication and medical care if needed are never very far away.
We have not followed the progress of this type of journey previously at our old 'antarctica.org' site and now at 'explorapoles'. We feel they are not professional expeditions and so the people visiting the site would not really be interested. Although we are still of that opinion, this year we have decided to talk about these trips so that we can make even more people aware of the fragile nature of the polar environments.