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GOLF 4-3-9 Antarctica Expedition 2012



2800 m above sea level

Yes, there actually is a pole at the South Pole, in fact there are two!

There is the “real” geographic South Pole that has to be re-surveyed each year on the the slowly moving Antarctic ice sheet, and there is a ceremonial South Pole- that’s where people go to get their photos taken.  Here is a photo of one of our friends at the geographic South Pole a few years ago. 

But did you know that there is also a Road to the South Pole?  It is the ULTIMATE Ice Road and is a bit over 1600km (that is nearly 1000 miles) long from McMurdo Station to The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.  This highway was built so that the number of LC130 supply flights could be reduced. It took several years to build by filling in crevasses in the steep glacier section.   The McMurdo Ice Shelf and the Polar Plateau are relatively stable so required much less work to develop a road but the section between that climbs the Leverett glacier and is a mass of crevasses.  This is what is called the shear zone- where two ice sheets collide.  This highway to the South Pole was first used in 2007.  The South Pole Overland Traverse, also known as SPOT, is a convoy of vehicles that carry fuel and other supplies up the glacier and onward to the pole.  It takes about 40 days to get there but faster on the way back since they carry less weight.

Take a look at the route they travel. It takes big vehicles to pull all that weight and equipment up the traverse route.  Here is one of the Case tractors that are used and has been fitted with tracks.  They pull housing modules (also pictured) and well as fuel bladders.   The first of two SPOT trips will leave McMurdo in a few days and the second, SPOT 2, will leave a week or two later.  They can transport enough fuel to reduce the need for LC130 flights significantly.  The LC130s burn 2 gallons of fuel for each gallon they deliver but the traverse burns only 1 gallon for each gallon they deliver- a significant savings on a precious commodity.


Laurie Connell