© 2019 PolarExperience

FAQ

What is the difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic?

 

 

 

Why travel with Dixie Dansercoer and his Polar Experience team?

Dixie Dansercoer has extensive experience travelling and navigating polar regions. In the past decades, he has repeatedly broken world records by covering great distances in complete autonomy, in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Dansercoer is a member of the International Polar Guide Association and one of the five Master Polar Guides. Besides several books about polar expeditions, he has written about his findings and experiences in the Polar Exploration handbook, published by Cicerone.

 

As part of the Polar Circles company, Dansercoer organises polar training and expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic. His unique expertise and Polar Circles extensive experience in the world of travelling are what make PolarExperience possible.  Dixie hand-picks and personally trains each of his co-guides to the highest safety and proficiency standards, each one of them a talented, respected and experienced polar explorer.

 

This new Polar Circles project offers polar expeditions to people with a desire to experience the polar regions intensely and see a long-cherished dream come true. It is an extraordinary opportunity under the leadership of experienced professionals. 

 

What experience do I need to participate?

Our Level 1 Expeditions in Spitsbergen do not require any specific prior technical knowledge, however you will need to participate in one of our Initiation Weekends prior to participation.

Level 2 Expeditions in Greenland and Iceland require that you have either participated in our Level 1 Spitsbergen Expedition or can provide a solid reference that describes your successful participation in multi-day winter camping including your proficiency in cross-country skiing.

Our Level 3 Arctic (North Pole) and Antarctic Expeditions are designed for participants with extensive experience in winter camping and skiing. Our preference is that you first complete Polar Experience Levels 1 and 2 thus building up your technical skills toward this ultimate level. However if you can provide a solid reference from a recognised adventure guide that details your previous experience, you will be considered for participation.

 

Do I need to be an athlete to go on a polar expeditions?

The participants in our polar expeditions are certainly not athletes or physical supermen!

However, being fit and healthy, and having the will to experience the unique polar landscapes from close by are vital.

A good dose of humour and team spirit are definite requirements as well. 

 

Is camping experience necessary?

Experience in camping is always a benefit, but not a requirement. During the mini-expedition Dixie Dansercoer will bring you up to speed with tips and tricks for camping in freezing temperatures. These include the techniques for setting up tents in the snow and what to do in the event of snow fall or heavy wind.

 

What is the degree of difficulty for your polar expeditions?

The difficulty of a polar expedition depends on the condition of the snow and the terrain to be traversed.

Pulling a pulk, weather conditions, spending the night in a tent and the communal tasks combine to add a challenge to almost every journey. But don’t worry! These discomforts are more than compensated for by the overwhelming beauty of the polar environment.

 

During the mini-expedition on Spitsbergen, we will spend five to six hours a day with snow shoes strapped on to trek across terrain that will be anything from hilly to mountainous.

 

In the Antarctica Queen Maud Land expedition we ski for a total of about seven hours spread across the day. Expect terrain that is flat to hilly.

 

On the Last Degree North, we ski or hike approximately eight to ten hours a day. The ‘leads’ and pressure ridges often make the terrain rough and uneven, making smooth and comfortable progress impossible.

 

Polar expeditions which require pulling a pulk are not advisable for people with knee and/or back problems.

 

What physical training do you recommend?

During a polar expedition you will pull a pulk loaded with equipment and food (and weighing approximately 35 kg) every day for a week.

So that everyone will be able to enjoy the expedition to the fullest, it is important that the participants all have a comparable level of fitness prior to departure.

 

To ensure no one has any nasty surprises during the expedition, a medical check-up is required for the definitive booking. We advise you to consult your doctor, to have your physical condition thoroughly checked and to undergo a stress test. In Belgium these tests can be performed at a number of locations, including the Centra voor Sportgeneeskunde (Centres for Sports Medicine) linked to university hospitals.

If you would like, the results of your tests can be used to develop a training programme specific to pulling a pulk. In any case, the test results are useful in adjusting and refining your condition-training programme. (For further information, contact us at info@polarexperience.com)

 

Besides motivation and physical training, psychological preparation is also highly important. For this, we recommend reading expedition reports. A polar expedition demands thorough preparation; you grow and develop toward your goal.

We also strongly advise taking part in one of our initiation weekends and in one of our mini-expeditions.

Ski experience is not an absolute necessity, although it does ensure better energy efficiency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who can I go to with my detailed questions?

For administrative questions, for information about flights or accommodation before and after the expedition, or for the general course of the expeditions, feel free to contact us at info@polarexperience.com.

Detailed questions about the expedition itself, equipment and communal materials, or about the training programme most appropriate for you will be answered by Dixie Dansercoer himself. 

 

Is there an age limit for participation?

There is no specific age limit for participation in a polar expedition, although parental permission will be required for participants under th age of 18.  Participants have been as young as 18 and as old as 72.

What is important is good health, good physical condition and having the right mental attitude.

 

Which materials will we get on loan from Polar Circles?

  • Pulks

  • Pulk harness/ ski-kiting harness

  • Ski sticks (Swix Mt Extreme)

  • Snowkites

  • Tents (Lowland Polar Dome)

  • Foldable tent chairs

  • Ice Hammers

  • Ice screws

  • Snow shovels

  • Sleeping mattresses (Thermarest)

  • Sleeping bags (+ liners)

  • Crampons (Antarctica)

  • Stuffbags 60 l + 20 l

  • Composite kitchen box: cooking stove, fuel bottles, 2 pots, eating bowls, spoons, lighter, snow bowls, potholders, snow brushes

  • Thermos & drinking cups

  • Day ration bottles (Nalgene)

  • Wolverine ruff

  • Oakley or Cébé snow goggles

  • Compass

  • Headlamp

  • Pee bottle

  • Food

  • Fuel

 

What extra material will the guide have?

  • Rope

  • Dry-suit (Last Degree North)

  • 2 Hi-end photo cameras

  • 2 HD video cameras with water-tight casing

  • 2 Go Pro mini video cameras

  • 2 3D video cameras

  • 2 large batteries with USB ports for use by participants

  • Fuel containers

  • Ice saw

  • Avalanche poles

  • Climbing equipment (Antarctica)

 

Guides will also be equipped with the following navigation, communication and safety systems:

maps, 2 GPSs, 1 emergency beacon, emergency flares, firearm and ammunition (Svalbard + Last Degree North), 2 Iridium telephones with 4 reserve batteries, medical kit.

 

What do I need to bring myself?

  • Ortlieb type travel bag to store your personal equipment in the pulk

  • Day backpack (circa 40 litres)[VB1] 

  • Water and windproof jacket and pants (breathing)

  • Thermal underwear (upper body and legs)

  • Polar fleece 200 (jacket and pants)

  • Finger gloves and mittens

  • Beanie/balaclava with wind-stopping membrane

  • Expedition socks

  • 100% UV sunglasses

  • Leatherman tool

  • Petzl head torch

  • Personal first-aid kit

  • Chemical hand warmers

  • Photo and video equipment.

 

Ski equipment and boots: for Last Degree North  + Antarctica Queen Maud Land  (able to be hired).

We will provide you with a detailed equipment list upon enrolment.

 

What do we eat during the polar expedition?

On the ice, breakfast will consist of cereals, energy biscuits and warm drinks.

During the day, there will be a break every 60-90 minutes, with chocolate, nuts and dried fruit, muesli biscuits and warm drinks.

The evening meal is the most energy-rich meal of the day, consisting of a freeze-dried meal with pasta, rice or mashed potato that will be reheated and served with warm drinks. The meals on the ice are prepared per tent on the MSR stoves. 

 

What is the best way to protect myself against the cold?

During polar expeditions, you can expect temperatures to hover around -25°C. Due to the wind chill, it may well feel as if temperatures are lower than those reported. The only efficient way in which to use clothing to keep warm is with the ‘layer system’. This system allows you to easily add or remove clothing based on the weather conditions and the heat you produce yourself. There is no room for compromise in your personal equipment; a fully detailed list will be provided by Dixie Dansercoer when you enrol.

 

What is the best time for a polar expedition?

The travel period differs for every polar area, depending on the number of hours of daylight, the climatic conditions, accessibility and the ice conditions.

 

Spitsbergen: February – March.

North Pole: April only.

Antarctica: Beginning of November up to and including the end of January.

 

How cold is it there?

On Spitsbergen, the Svalbard island where the mini-expedition will take place, the average temperature in March hovers between -25° and -10°C. There are approximately 13 hours of daylight a day, including twilight and dusk. In this time of the year, the semi-darkness is extremely atmospheric and ensures long-lasting sunrises and sunsets with beautiful floodlighting.

 

With the Last Degree North  in the month of April, we count on an air temperature of -35 C° to -20 C°.

 

On the Antarctica Queen Maud Land expedition  the temperatures vary with the height and the distance to the sea. Between November and January, we count on average temperatures of -15°C in Queen Maud Land.

 

In polar regions, wind chill can dramatically drop the temperatures experienced.