North V. South: The Battle of the Poles
Your breath feels like it freezes as soon as it leaves your lungs, your back and shoulders ache from carrying equipment for days and your legs are shaking – yet, somehow, you’ve never been happier.
Traveling to the Poles is the dream of many an adventure lover. These remote, inhospitable locations offer unique sights and experiences to those brave enough to venture towards their icy hearts.
For a first-timer, the safest and most practical way of embarking on a polar expedition is by joining an organised group. This way you can make the most of professional trekkers’ experience and truly enjoy the trip knowing you are in good hands. There are several good companies which specialise in polar expeditions so do your research to find one that suits your needs.
Which Pole if For You?
Teamwork and discipline are key during these trips and you’ll make lifelong friendships with those you cross the ice with. But which Pole is for you? North or South?
North V. South
A trip to the North Pole takes around three weeks and covers around 200km. To reach it, you must head out over the frozen depths of the Arctic Ocean. Underneath metres of ice is the freezing sea, so this ice moves! The drift of ice may work against you and the air is frustratingly humid so you must constantly work to keep your tent dry. Cold management is also a constant battle – keeping warm is key to survival.
Sound like fun? Other challenges include skiing against the drift of the ice and pulling your equipment hundreds of kilometres by sled…
Though these trips are hard work, you’ll have plenty of time to admire the stunning scenery as you’re not trying to win any awards. This trip is for you to gain a better knowledge of both yourself and the strange land surrounding you. A good polar expedition company will take their team at a steady pace, allowing you to absorb the misty mountains of ice and the overwhelming sense of isolation.
A trip to the South Pole is usually shorter, coming in at about a week and a half. Unlike the Arctic, the Antarctic is a continent. Underneath the ice there is firm ground so you won’t be battling ice drift here. The air is also extremely dry – the driest on earth in fact. These factors mean that habitation is possible at the South Pole. However, the Antarctic comes with its own challenges. The driving wind works with the immobile ice to create harsh ‘sastrugi’. These irregular ridges are difficult to walk on and navigate through – especially in the high altitude which can leave you breathless or dizzy. Of course, just like in the Arctic, keeping warm is difficult but essential.
Visitors to this remote region are left speechless by the icy wilderness stretching out endlessly before them, lit by the eerie 24-hour sun that never sets.
Though the Arctic and Antarctic offer very different experiences, the feeling of euphoria when you reach your goal is the same and unparalleled. How does it sound? Terrifying? Or thrilling? If the latter, a polar expedition might just be the perfect trip for you. Good luck!