Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

6. What kinds of vehicles, or other modes of transportation, are used to get around at the South Pole?

Tim asked what kinds of transportation we use to get around. The answer is we use a lot of different modes of transportation. As you might expect, we use snow machines a lot.


The snow machines are often equipped with sleds of different types. This one is used for transporting people to and from our drill site. It has seats, and the brave sit in the chairs and take the wind fully in their face. The smart sit on the back and protect their noses.

We also use a van with big snow tires.


This is the most comfortable way to get around, but it’s only good on the groomed roads. Get off the road, and you will get stuck in the snow.

For groups travelling off of the groomed roads that need protection from the wind, there are piston bullies.


The tracks on these allow them to move across the open snow and away from groomed roads.

There is also a variety of heavy machinery for moving equipment around.


Here is a Cat 953 bulldozer towing a “10-ton” sled with our ice cores on top. Without the heavy machinery, we would not be able to get our tons (literally) of stuff to where it needed to be. There are a variety of other tractors for grooming and hauling loads.

The South Pole traverse just arrived with 100,000 pounds of fuel for the station. They drive up from McMurdo is about 3 weeks. I haven’t been out to visit those tractors yet, but I hope to have a post up on them soon.

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