About the South Pole Overland Traverse (SPoT!)

The second South Pole overland traverse (SPoT2) arrived a week before Christmas, and I managed to grab a few pictures of their setup! The SPoT1 and SPoT2 teams travel about 1,000 miles, driving tractors, over the Ross Ice Shelf, up the Leverett Glacier and across the vast polar plateau, just to deliver fuel to us here at the pole. This is really an adventure—they have to be wary of crevasses as they transition from the ice shelf to the plateau.
Once a traverse arrives at South Pole it take some days to offload their cargo of fuel, service or repair their tractors and head back toward McMurdo. Here are some pictures from the SPoT2 camp once they arrived here:

SPoT2 camped here at the South Pole.


One of the tractors, and someone’s really awesome bike.
The sled containing the kitchen and two bunk areas.
Inside the first bunk area.



The trip usually lasts 20-30 days to get from McMurdo to SP. It’s much faster going back to McMurdo without all that fuel to drag with them.
The garbage/waste sled.
The refrigerated sled—food!
A second sled with bunks—named “Fawlty Towers”


I got to ride the couch sled on the way back :)
I got to ride the couch sled on the way back 🙂


SPoT1 is currently en route back to us to deliver another 100,000 gallons of fuel so that there is plenty for the winter. Here’s an image of their progress up until January 3rd: (I received it in an email.)

Traverse Daily Update - SPoT 1 - Trip 2 (2015-Jan-03)
Traverse Daily Update – SPoT 1 – Trip 2 (2015-Jan-03)

This year the South Pole will have 310,000 gallons of its fuel resupply delivered via the traverses this season. Without them—we would have to rely on offloaded fuel from the LC-130s, which is an issue because: firstly, it takes many, many flights to resupply the same amount of fuel as a traverse—and the traverse uses less fuel than flights and cuts down on the carbon footprint, and secondly, we haven’t been getting very many flights in lately, so if we didn’t have the traverses, we wouldn’t have showers, laundry, the growth chamber, etc. And I wouldn’t have my mental sanity.


7 thoughts on “About the South Pole Overland Traverse (SPoT!)

  1. Maddy: I loved the pictures, particularly the one with you in the sled, and learning about how the South Pole operations work. We had some days this past week where the temperatures dipped down to 27 degrees and none of us wanted to walk or jog in the morning. Then we remembered you were jogging in -27 degrees and we couldn’t feel very sorry for ourselves. Hope things are going well for you, and we can’t wait to hear about your adventure when you get home. Love, gaga

  2. I’,m an italian (polar) science teacher. I would like to use your awesome trip with my students to understand better antarctica. Would it be possibile to have a list (or a map) of the entire trip across the continent? (would be great) many thanks. ciao!

    1. Thank you so much for your interest in my blog and for teaching your students about polar science! I am not actually traveling across the continent myself—I have remained at the South Pole station exactly at 90˚South. Sorry to not be of more help!

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