Although much of the food, fuel, and supplies in Antarctica is transported via air, there’s still a good amount that needs to be hauled by ground. Additionally, various field camps need a heavy ground crew to support their operations and transport requirements. For this, we have the ultra-burl South Pole Traverse Team.
The South Pole Traverse, also called the McMurdo – South Pole Highway, is an approximately 995-mile-long (1,601 km) compacted snow road in Antarctica that links the United States’s McMurdo Station on the coast to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station. It was constructed by leveling snow and filling in crevasses, but is not paved; flags mark its route.
After four years of development, the trail is now operational, with Caterpillar and Case Corp. tractors pulling specialized sleds to deliver fuel and cargo to the South Pole in about 40 days. The return trip to McMurdo Station, with less fuel and cargo, is substantially quicker.
Throughout the summer season at the South Pole Station, the traverse team stops in for food, fuel, and rest. A few pics of their recent stops at pole, and their machinery and facilities.
The traverse team arrives after a long trek across the frozen continent.
Towing giant bladders of AN8 jet fuel.
View from the drivers seat. Remarkably comfortable, with GPS and stereo with iPod hookup.
Their living quarters.
Inside the living quarters.
The team needs to be able to deal with any mechanical issues they encounter while on the road. Here’s their repair shed.
At night, all of the machines are hooked up to a central generator, where they receive electricity to power engine blog heaters. Without constant heat, the engines would freeze up in the sub-zero air, and be extremely difficult to start again in the morning.