Dozens of teams are preparing for or have already launched expeditions to mark the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen's trip to the earth's southernmost point. "Tourist time has begun," proclaims southpolstation.com's newsletter.
Several Norwegian expeditions want to emulate their compatriot Amundsen (1872-1928). Two teams from Norway will follow Amundsen's every step along the tough route over the Axel Heiberg glacier. Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg plans to cover the last 20 kilometres of the way on skis to mark the date.
A team of British soldiers have formed two expeditions in a race to the pole: One is following Amundsen's route while the other is taking Scott's.
Australians James Castrission, 29, and Justin Jones, 28, are attempting to become the first to trek unsupported from the edge of the Antarctic to the South Pole, and back again. (A British 16-year-old, Amelia Hempleman-Adams, became the youngest person ever to ski her way to the pole earlier this month.)
Britain's Felicity Aston plans to ski to the Pole, and then to Hercules Bay, a total of 1,700 kilometres which would set a new record for a woman.
Three men hope to set the record for the first visually impaired person to travel on foot from the coast to the Pole. Team member Alan Lock lost his sight to macular degeneration. They are blogging and tweeting their progress @polarvision.
Sunday, 26 athletes from the United States, Japan, Norway, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Russia and Britain were to fly to the US-run Amundsen-Scott Station to take part in a 50-kilometre ultra-marathon at around –30 C.
One of the many tour operators trying to cash in on the fervour is Polar Explorers, a company in suburban Chicago that is charging $40,500 for a flight to the pole on either anniversary (weather permitting). People who want to be dropped off a degree or two away so they can ski in will pay up to $57,500.