Ski to the South Pole — Pulling It Together

Pulling together the details for a Ski South Pole expedition can be a challenge. How do you stay on track with all there is to do?

ALE’s Hannah McKeand gives some advice on equipment selection, your training regime and tracking down funding. Hannah is an avid explorer and experienced polar guide. She has skied to the South Pole more times than anyone else; has guided several expeditions to the Pole on both Hercules Inlet and Messner Start routes; and holds the record for fastest female expedition from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.

Taking Stock

Hopefully by mid-way through the year the details of your South Pole expedition are confirmed and you are completely confident that the expedition is full steam ahead. Your funding is secured; you are feeling fit and strong; and you have done a thorough job of researching the items you will need.

Realistically however, your situation may be a bit more tenuous. You may be missing a big chunk of money and wondering how you are going to find the extra pennies you need. Fundraising efforts may be pulling you away from training. And you may feel overwhelmed by the variety of clothing and equipment that is available. Keep calm and carry on!

Stepping Up Your Training

It’s time to step up your training. You don’t need to go crazy as you don’t want to peak too soon. The goal is to stay motivated and to gradually increase your condition and endurance. Keep up your regular exercise routine during the week and at weekends try to plan some longer efforts perhaps with family and friends. Try to get in some really long day hikes, so you can experience what it is like to be on your feet and doing something strenuous for 8 to 10 hours a day. You might be an achy wreck by the end at first, but you will be amazed how quickly you harden off to this kind of activity once you are doing it regularly. Above all enjoy what you are doing and remind yourself every day that your efforts are taking you to the South Pole, all your hard work will be rewarded once you arrive on the ice.

Clothing and Equipment

It’s also time to track down and purchase all of the clothing and equipment that you are going to need for your expedition. Begin by making a list. ALE will provide you with some excellent gear and clothing lists to work from, but make your own as well. Note down the top gear and clothing tips that any experts you have spoken to suggest, and write down any little personal things that you would like to take with you when you think of them. Many of the items that you need such as skis and boots you might well be ordering from overseas, so it is important to get onto this now while you have plenty of delivery time and time to overcome any customs issues.

One thing that you will quickly discover is that everyone who has ever done anything polar will have an opinion on what the best equipment and clothing is. The beauty of the advice that ALE offer is that it doesn’t come from one individual, but from the collective knowledge of dozens of guides and hundreds of clients. Over the years the staff at ALE have seen every possible variety of gloves, tents, skis, jackets, thermal underpants and every other imaginable piece of gear that is out there, They have seen these things work and they have regularly seen things fail. Follow their advice; it has been carefully compiled over many years of operation. Listen with caution to individuals who tell you that one specific thing is absolutely right. Particularly be careful of individuals producing their own gear or equipment, they may just be recommending it for commercial reasons, check with ALE to see if it is really all they say it is. Chances are that if it is good, then ALE will already be recommending it.


Finally, if you are still finalizing funding, stay in touch with ALE and let them know where you are at. Take stock of all the leads that you have. Sit down with someone you can talk to who has a sensible head and go through everything you have and have a brainstorm for new ideas. At this point, any funding you have already managed to secure is your strong card. Go back to any luke-warm leads and give them an update on what you have managed to raise so far and what you still need. Companies may be attracted by the new smaller figure and the fact that other people are supporting you. Above all don’t give up!

See also

Ski to the South Pole – Final Preparations

Ski to the South Pole – Getting Started

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