First NGA ski trip to Pole from Hercules Inlet

the ski group in front of the South Pole sign
The team members gather around the South Pole sign

After developing the Patriot Hills runway, Adventure Networks International started promoting Antarctic tourism, including ascents of Mount Vinson, tourist flights to Pole, and nongovernmental ski trips. This venture was the first of these...the eleven members left PH and began the ski trek to Pole on 17 November 1988.

the skiers approach the end of the journey
The group of skiers approach their final goal...
at the South Pole sign
...and celebrate around the South Pole sign.

This trip has been made many times since 1988-89, by groups as small as one and by larger groups, so now the route is routine, well known, and free of crevasse dangers. Many folks now do it completely unsupported, carrying/pulling all of their supplies. But this first trip included two snowmobiles with large sleds loaded with most of the food and camp supplies, and it also received several air resupplies. And tragedy almost struck early in the expedition, when leader Martyn Williams fell while skiing down a steep glassy slope and narrowly escaped severe injury among some rocks. But they arrived at Pole safely on 17 January.

Despite the negative vibes given off by NSF about private expeditions, the group was greeted by many of the station crew upon arrival, as you can see from my photos. And they did get a station tour which included the official donuts and coffee.

the group at the ceremonial Pole

Above, after the skis were taken off, here is the official hero shot at the Ceremonial Pole. From left: J.K. Bajaj (age 46, Uttarkashi, India), Martyn Williams (39, leader, Whitehorse, YT), Stuart Hamilton (33, snowmobile driver, Whitehorse, YT), Mike Sharp (37, snowmobile driver), Jim Williams (33, assistant leader, Jackson, WY), Jerry Corr (56, Lansing, MI), Tori Murden (25, Louisville, KY), Shirley Metz (39, Laguna Beach, CA), Ron Milnarik (46, Belleville, IL), Alejo Contreras-Steading (29, Santiago, Chile), and Joe Murphy (58, Minneapolis, MN).

Shortly after the photos and tour, the group was picked up by the ANI Twin Otter and flown north. But not before Shirley Metz headed back to the Pole and stripped to her bra and panties. I did see that but I'd put my camera away. Anyone out there have a photo? Pat Smith perhaps?

The group cached their snowmobiles and other supplies at Pole for possible use by Will Steger's trans-Antarctic journey planned for the following year.

The black-and-white group photo above is from the book South to the Pole by Ski by Joseph E. (Joe) Murphy, published in 1990. It looks to be out of print, but there are copies out there in used bookstores and on their sites. Writer Joe Murphy has written a number of other books about geeky stock market stuff as well as travel and exploration.