Tourists Flock to the South Pole

21 Jan

The hottest (ironically) tourist destination of the year may be one of the coldest places on Earth. The South Pole.

Later this year marks the 100th Anniversary of the arrival of Roald Amundsen to the South Pole, followed shortly after by British explorer Robert Scott. In honor of their achievements, many adventure-seekers will seek to trace their routes through Antarctica. And they will pay a pretty penny to do so.

Polar Explorers, a company based in Chicago, Illinois, will take costumers to the pole for just $40,500. Or, if you want to be dropped just a couple of miles short of the pole, it will cost you $57,500. Tourism to the South Pole peaked in 2007-8 with 46,000 people arriving, and has since dropped off because of the recession. At the pole, visitors can get their letters stamped with an official postmark and can purchase souvenirs, but there are few amenities.

One of [the explorers] is Matt Elliott, a 28-year-old Briton, who will compete in a 440-mile ski race, pulling 200 pounds of gear the whole way. A resident of Windsor, he works for his family’s paper wholesaling business and calls himself “a complete polar novice.”

He has never tried cross-country skiing, and he is not a big fan of cold weather, but he has been practicing by dragging two car tires on a rope for several hours at a time.

“I want to know how far, physically, I can go,” said Mr. Elliott, who is paying about $95,000 to enter the competition, sponsored by a London-based company called Extreme World Races. “It would be great to get there first and run the Union Jack at the South Pole before the Norwegians get there,” he said.

Despite their excitment for the trips, some scientists dislike the increased human traffic to the South Pole.

“It’s a place that wants you dead,” said Robert Swan, an environmentalist who walked Scott’s route to the South Pole in 1985. “Scott found that out 100 years ago

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