The Expedition

Adventurer Doug Tumminello has set his sights on the literal end of the Earth: the South Pole. In December 2015–January 2016, Doug will attempt to ski from the coast of Antarctica, at Hercules Inlet, to the South Pole—a distance of approximately 750 miles. By himself. He will undertake this expedition unaccompanied and unsupported. Fewer than 300 people have skied to the South Pole and only an elite handful of those have ventured out solo.

The Real Adventure Begins

The route for South Pole Solo starts at Hercules Inlet on the Antarctic coast south of Chile and climbs gradually as Doug makes his way south for 730 miles over the polar ice cap’s mountain passes and wind-blown snow ridges. Days are filled with 24-hour daylight and an intense solitude; no plant or animal life is seen this far south, just snow, ice, rock and sky. The trip will take 40-50 days depending on weather, snow conditions and Doug’s strength.

During the expedition Doug will ski for 9-12 hours a day in all types of weather and in challenging terrain, hauling a sled weighing over 200 lbs. at the start. He will haul all of his supplies in a specially designed sled called a pulk, facing constant winds, fields of wind-formed sastrugi snow ridges, hidden crevasses, and white-out conditions. On the polar plateau, the average temperature in the absence of wind is colder than twenty degrees below zero.

Hercules Inlet is a large, narrow, ice-filled inlet, which forms a part of the southwestern margin of the Ronne Ice Shelf. The inlet is bounded on the west by the Heritage Range and on the north by the Skytrain Ice Rise. The slopes south of the inlet are covered in crevasse fields, making travel through them treacherous without prior knowledge of their whereabouts. The Wilson Nunataks can be seen from the inlet as well.

From the inlet, the route climbs up into the interior of Antarctica toward the Patriot Hills and then onto the polar plateau. About halfway through his journey, Doug will ski by the Thiel Mountains, an isolated range that is part of the larger Transantarctic Range. The Transantarctic Mountains extend across the continent and divide East Antarctica and West Antarctica. The route then proceeds south with a little jog to the west to get around some crevasses, and then on to the South Pole.

I seemed to vow to myself that some day I would go to the region of ice and snow and go on and on till I came to one of the poles of the earth, the end of the axis upon which this great round ball turns.”

— Ernest Shackleton