Tourists Suddenly Flocking to the South Pole

Are we there yet?

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Ronald Amundsen's journey to the South Pole (and Robert Falcon Scott's, one year later), hundreds of people have decided to recreate the trip. We're not sure where the Wi-Fi is coming from, but according to the Times, "Some people intend to ski the exact routes of Amundsen and Scott, blogging about the experience." These days, though, you don't even need to be complete lunatic to take this journey: "For those seeking less exertion, there will be catered flights to the pole, including several that will let passengers off a few miles away so they can ski the remaining stretch and feel the thrill of victory." However, if you go via Polar Explorers, a company in suburban Chicago, you're paying between $40,500 and $57,000 for a flight to the pole on either anniversary, weather permitting, and some of the ski races are a $90,000 buy-in. It sure sounds fun, though: “We’re going to have lots of Champagne toasts and take a lot of pictures, and you can call home to your loved ones from the pole,” said Annie Aggens of Polar Explorers.

Or does it sound fun? When the great Falcon Scott finally arrived at the Pole, even he lamented, "This place is awful." So can you really just go to the South Pole and get drunk like it's the Atlantis? The Times notes:

"Needless to say, people will not want to replicate Scott’s entire expedition. He and his men died in a blizzard during the 800-mile trek back from the pole, huddled in a tent that was, famously, just 11 miles from a vital cache of supplies."

The National Science Foundation, which runs the Amundsen-Scott research station at the South Pole, said: “Those people who do arrive, we don’t really have a process for them other than letting them know that they are at the pole, that this is a U.S. station, and we’re not able to provide them with any amenities.” Then there's Evan Bloom of the State Department, who hopes nobody's setting an example here: “We want other governments to get the word out that people should not simply show up at the South Pole.” Robert Swan, an environmentalist who walked Scott’s route to the South Pole in 1988, put it most simply though: “It’s a place that wants you dead.” Um, Champagne for everyone!

Tourists Mimic Polar Pioneers, Except With Planes and Blogs [NYT via Runnin' Scared/VV]