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The 'rules' of polar travel

People often ask me about the so-called ‘rules’ of polar travel. What does the fact that our South Pole expedition will be ‘unsupported’ really mean?
With the caveats that I don’t think expeditions and people should be judged ‘better’ or ‘worse’ because of a failure to adhere to these arbitrary details, that I don’t know who made these up, nor who has the right to pass judgement on someone’s dreams, plans and triumphs, here are the polar ‘rules‘. You can also read more about SOUTH, our project, here.

Polar Rules and Definitions

Assist
Assist refers to the outside help received by an expedition. The most common form of polar assist is air-resupply.

Labels:
# Unassisted
# Assisted – resupplies
# Assisted – emergency (this category also applies if one or more members leave an ongoing expedition)

Support
Support refers to external power aids used for significant speed and load advantage. Typical aids are wind power (kites), animal power (dogs), or engine power (motorized vehicles). Only human powered expeditions are considered unsupported. Usage of human powered equipment such as skis, snowshoes, and sleds are not considered support. Usage of navigation aid such as compass and GPS are not considered support. Usage of safety aids such as radios, satellite phones and location beacons are not considered support.

Labels:
# Unsupported
# Wind Support
# Dog Support
# Motorized Support

Style
Style refers to other characteristics of the expedition.

Labels:
# Unguided
# Guided
# Solo

The style label “solo” requires that the explorer is alone and receive no outside assistance. A solo performance thus requires the assist label “unassisted”.

Start/End Point
Below refer to overland or oversea North Pole or South Pole expeditions.

Travel to the South/North Pole
# The start point has to be from the boundary between land and water – the coast line. Permanent ice is considered part of the ocean, not the land.
# If the coast line is not obvious due to permanent ice, the start point should be according to mapped outline of the coast.

Partial travel to the South/North Pole
# Any start point that is not at the edge of the continental land mass, but at least 1 degree from the Pole itself. This covers “Last Degree” Expeditions as well as Patriot Hill starting points.

Traverse
# A Polar Traverse applies to expeditions traveling across a geographical feature. Example of features is continents, oceans, glaciers and mountain ranges.
# A traverse has different start and end points.
# An Antarctic or Arctic traverse has to traverse the full continent/ocean. The start and end points have to be from the boundary between land and water – the coast line. Permanent ice is considered part of the ocean, not the land.
# If the coast line is not obvious due to permanent ice, the start point should be according to mapped outline of the coast.

Return trip
# A return trip has the same start and end point.

Proximitiy
The proximity refers to accepted margin to valid start/end point.
# If the start/end point is determined by an obvious natural feature like the sea, or by a man/made object like the South Pole marker it should be touched.
# If the start/end point is determined by a GPS position like the North Pole, it should be verified by a GPS reading within a 30 meter margin
# If the start/end point is determined by a map like the Hercules Inlet, the point should be within the error margin of the source.

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