Monday, May 20, 2013

I joined the 300 club and now going into hibernation

A South Pole winter activity is the 300 Club. When the temperature drops to -100 degF those wishing to participate go to the sauna where the temperature is set at 200 degF - hence the 300 which is the temperature difference. Once that temperature is reached you put on your boots and neck gaiter only (or more if you desire) and walk down the beercan stairway, which is -60 degF, outside the door then to the Geographic South Pole marker.  

While in the sauna we receive temperature reports every few minutes. If the temperature goes above -100 it doesn't count. When I learned that I took off.  I heard "Go for it Mike, you are the first for Winter 2013!"  With my towel around my waist I took off down the beercan, removed the towel and went outside and walked to the Geographic South Pole maker and sign. Once at the marker I took a picture and walked back to the station, up the beercan and back to the sauna to recover. It really wasn't that bad at all. I'm glad I joined this exclusive club. 

The temperature was -101.7 when we left - like it really makes a difference. It seems like it only takes a puff of wind to really chill it down.

Another special moment at the South Pole.

What does one do after walking naked to the South Pole marker in the winter - have an ice cold beer of course.
Last winter at Scott Base I participated in the Polar Plunge. The ocean water temperature was 28 degF, while the air was -40. 
Surf and turf at the South Pole! Filet Mignon.

Grilled lobster tail.

Freshly made garlic toast, salad, croutons, and poppy seed dressing.

My plate.

As of this point I have now been at the Pole for four months with six months left to go. Unless an interesting event occurs I will not be posting weekly. We are in the middle of winter, it is extremely dark, and the temperature is routinely in the -80's degF with windchill in the -120's. The posts will be occasional now.  It seems like it is time to hibernate. To those of you in the northern hemisphere - have a great summer! Enjoy the sun, trees, plants, animals, fresh fruits and vegetables and the beautiful ocean. It is indeed a wonderful world!


  1. Hi Mike! I am having a tough time signing into this blog to add a comment. You are definitely keeping us informed and posting is a valuable way to share what you do/know. Thanks and stay warm, Love always,

  2. Greetings from Palmer Station, Mike.

    I am another Mike, and I wintered in 2007-08 as Network Engineer. Now, I am wintering at Palmer. There are several former winterover Polies here.

    Wishing you the best as we approach mid-Winter. Congratulations with 300 Club. We got -99.8F and never went out, in my year. We have jumped in the +30F ocean, several times, however.

    Stay balanced, keep exercising and going out to RF and the Dark Sector when the aurorae are out. I've traded the aurora australis for seals. I miss the winter sky at Pole. We saw the awesome iridium flare the other night, and I thought of going out on the deck to see them in the Pole winter.

    1. Hi Mike. Nice to hear from Palmer. That station would be next on my list so that I can officially wear my "Old Antarctic Explorer" t-shirt that I bought last winter in McMurdo. We have hit -100 several times so far, once for 12 hours but I have only gone out once. I figure once per season if I ever come back. I haven't been outside except for the 300 club because my broken foot still won't fit in my boots. But I do go out on the observation deck daily after working out in the gym. The sky is simply stunning. One of the guys posts the iridium schedule and those are cool. Palmer sounds interesting with lots more outside activities. All last winter in McMurdo I hiked everywhere in the dark. Here it is just out and back and way too dark and cold. I am looking forward to getting outside again for daily walks. Have a good rest of the winter!