Expedition FAQ

How far is the South Pole Solo Expedition?

About 730 miles – equivalent to about 28 back-to-back marathons.

How long will it take?

The expedition is expected to take approximately 40-45 days.

How cold will it be, and how long are the days?

Once on the polar plateau, the average temperature is colder than minus 20, without the wind chill! It’ll be summer in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning that Doug will have 24 hours of daylight.

What will you wear?

Doug will be wearing a selection of merino wool inner base layers, a custom-made windproof outer jacket (called an anorak) with a fur ruff and wind pants made by Susan Schurke’s Wintergreen Northern Wear, and even a down skirt outer layer made by Skhoop to prevent “polar thigh”, a particularly debilitating form of cold weather injury. The number of inner layers Doug will wear at any one time is determined by the weather (more if it’s colder, less when warmer) and he has a down parka to wear over the top of everything when it’s particularly chilly. He’ll also wear a full face mask and ski goggles to prevent facial frost bite and snowblindness.

How often will you change clothes?

Not very often. Doug has two changes of thermal underwear and four pairs of socks for the entire journey, in an effort to save weight!

How do you prevent frostbite?

Frostbite can be prevented through good clothing and equipment, through staying properly hydrated, and by being diligent. Doug will keep his face covered most of the time and avoid having bare hands outside. To protect his feet he will wear Alfa Mordre ski boots with Intuition liners. He’ll also carry neoprene overboots made by 40 Below for when the temperature really drops.

What do you eat?

Doug will consume almost 5000 calories a day. His diet is a mixture of freeze-dried food, soup, energy bars, trial mixes, salami, nuts and chocolate. He’ll also eat two sticks of butter a day since it’s dense and calorie-rich! Doug expects to expend as many as 10,000 calories a day, so he’ll lose weight along the way.

What do you do with garbage?

All garbage is bagged, kept in the sled and packed out the entire way. Human waste (i.e. poop!) will be deposited in toilet holes at each camp until Doug reaches the 89 degree South latitude. At that point, he’ll pack his poop with him all the way to the pole for disposal.

Will you seen any animals?

Nope – once inland, there are virtually no animals (other than humans) in Antarctica. Polar bears are only in the northern polar regions!

What does an average day look like for you in Antarctica?

Day lengths will vary but as a general rule Doug will be up early – 6:00 a.m. He will ski an average of 9-12 hours per day, taking a 10 minute break after every 1:20 of skiing. Making camp and breaking camp during the day takes hours because of the amount of time necessary to pitch a tent, erect snow walls to protect from the wind, and melt ice for water. In the evening he will melt snow for his freeze-dried food and hot energy drinks, eat, blog and catch up on much-needed rest. Hopefully, Doug will be able to sleep 6 hours or so a day.

How often do you stop to rest during the day?

As a general rule Doug will ski in 80 minute sessions with a 10 minute break in between each. The sessions allow him to rest, eat and drink regularly throughout the day without losing too much time or growing too cold from inactivity.

Do you listen to any music or audiobooks to break up the monotony?

Doug will listen to both on his iPhone to help pass the time, as long as it works . . . After that, he’ll have his thoughts to keep him occupied.

How far do you need to travel each day to complete the expedition in 40–45 days?

Although Doug’s daily distances will change as the expedition progress, he hopes to average between 15 and 20 miles per day.

How do you wash?

Not often! Doug will be able to take snow baths on warm days – chilly but invigorating!

How do you go to the bathroom?

Peeing is straightforward (think about it, think about it!). At night, he’ll pee in a pee bottle and keep the bottle in his sleeping bag for additional warmth. Pooping is best done quickly . . . Rather than carrying toilet paper, he’ll use snow to wipe his bum. Refreshing.

Will you see anyone else on your journey – for example researchers or scientists?

It is unlikely that Doug will see anyone else on his journey other than at the South Pole where there’s a base. Although he could run across other expeditions, it isn’t very likely as he’ll be striving to keep as alone as possible to preserve his “solo” status.

What do you do if there’s an incident on the ice?

Doug will have a comprehensive first aid kit which he can use to solve most issues and injuries. If he requires an evacuation it would be carried out by his logistics provider, ALE. Doug will carry 2 satellite phones and a satellite tracking beacon to keep everyone apprised of his whereabouts.

What type of skis is Doug using?

Doug is using Fischer E99 Extralite skis with Rottefella Super Telemark bindings. He’ll use “kicker skins” permanently screwed to the bottom the skis for better uphill traction.

Is there downhill skiing involved?

No – It’s uphill to the pole virtually the entire way! Doug will start at sea level and the pole is at an elevation of 9,300 feet. All of that 9,300 feet of elevation is ice – the Polar Icecap.

How do you deal with a whiteout?

Doug will always navigate by GPS and compass. He’ll mount a compass to his chest using a chest rig, so that he can stare at the compass during white out conditions and ski straight.

The average temperature on Antarctica will be minus 20, without the wind chill.

The average temperature on Antarctica will be minus 20, without the wind chill.

pulk sled

Doug will be pulling a pulk sled with 225 pounds of supplies.

A lone skier

It is unlikely Doug will see anyone during his expedition.

A lone penguin walking.

Once inland he won’t see any animals, not even a penguin.

Scene of Antarctica

It’s all uphill.

Antarctica compared to the U.S.

Size comparison of Antarctica with the United States.