Trying to go to McMurdo Station in Antarctica for a drink and then leave after about six hours
February 18, 2011 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I would like to go from Chicago to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, have a drink at the local bar, hang about for about six hours or so, and then leave. Any ideas on how I would go about doing that?
posted by dabradfo to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Andrew Evans took a bus there.
posted by soelo at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here's a package tour, starting at $15,500, and leaving from NZ--so you'd have to get to NZ first, at whatever that costs you (when I went, it was something like $1,500).

To state the obvious, getting to Antarctica is a very expensive proposition. A friend did it on an around the world journey--seemed amazing, but it was something close to $7,000 just to get to Antarctica from Chile.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:59 PM on February 18, 2011

You need to have permission to go there in the first place; you can't just show up. I can't see how you could leave after six hours, because there aren't flights even every day, unless by "leave after six hours" you would be going to one of the other Antarctic bases via helicopter?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2011

Lonely Planet says this is probably not feasible.

(You're presumably in Chicago, so I'll assume costs for Antarctic-appropriate clothing are already covered.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

There was a sort of meetup there last summer, so maybe you could talk to the dude who organized it?
posted by elizardbits at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2011

A glimpse of the 223-page treaty protecting Antarctica kinda gives you a rough idea of why not just anyone can show up and wander around. How protected is it?

When I was there a few years back, we took daily excursions on shore from a ship. We were asked to walk in a single file and step in the footsteps of the person in front of us. Scientists had discovered an inordinate amount of penguins falling into deep holes created by tourists wandering around in knee-high snow drifts. The penguins would then become trapped in these narrow tubes and die a lingering, horrible, horrible death.

So yeah, they're kinda worried about random people just showing up.
posted by HeyAllie at 1:22 PM on February 18, 2011 [7 favorites]

The only ways to really do this short of working at McMurdo are to go on a press trip, as part of the air force(?- marines? whoever is in charge of operation deep freeze) on a resupply mission or as part of a tourist cruise that makes a stop there. Going to the Antarctic pennisula (Chile side) will put you a continent away from McMurdo (NZ side).

Good luck to you though, you certainly have some big strings you can pull if you can do this.
posted by raccoon409 at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2011

There was a sort of meetup there last summer, so maybe you could talk to the dude who organized it?
As the dude who organized it (though, it was actually at pole, not McMurdo, but that's close enough), I can only tell you it's hard to do, as others have pointed out already.

If you're really set on six hours, then you've only got a few options:

- Pay tens of thousands of dollars to get a private tour company to bring you nearby, and then either get really lucky or pay a whole lot more in order to get to the base itself. (Though, in that situation, I'd rather spend my time hanging out with the wildlife and exploring the coastline. The bar at McMurdo isn't really the sort of place you set out for. It's the sort of place you wind up. Generally upon discovering your flight out has been delayed yet again, following a sleepless night in Man Camp, and after you've already walked back and forth between Observation Hill and Discovery Hut twice this morning and still not seen any penguins.)

- Apply for the USAP Artists and Writer's program, if they resume accepting applications next year, and submit a proposal that includes six hours of interviews in the bar on your way to someplace else. It's a long shot, but the low cost of trying is low.

- Become a congressional aide or the assistant to a high ranking military official, and convince your boss that a DV trip to the continent would be lots of fun. (Alternately, become a congressperson or a high ranking military official; howver, this may require more effort than some alternatives.)

If you're willing to spend six weeks instead of six hours, then you can get paid to hang out there as a contract employee. Wages are generally low, working conditions are hit and miss, and there's a lot of competition for even the least appealing jobs. But, getting paid to see Antarctica is hard to beat. (Someone with the right skills at the right time - say, a pipe-fitter or a physician's assistant when there's a shortage - can secure a gig pretty easily.)

If you're willing to spend years on the project, then there are plenty of ways to see the continent and also do good work that you enjoy. But, those options generally require an investment of rather more than one summer, much less six hours.

P.S. If you're really set on it, try to pick six hours on a Thursday evening in good weather. Then you can spend some of your time enjoying America night in the bar at Scott base as well.
posted by eotvos at 2:25 PM on February 18, 2011 [30 favorites]

Work for Raytheon Polar Services.
posted by CodeMonkey at 3:45 PM on February 18, 2011

Work for Raytheon Polar Services.

They'd be pissed off if you expected to leave in six hours! And by "pissed off" here, I mean "requiring you to refund them the costs of your transportation as specified in your contract of employment."
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2011

Someone with the right skills at the right time - say, a pipe-fitter or a physician's assistant when there's a shortage - can secure a gig pretty easily

I read recently — tried to google it now but didn't find it, sadly — a fascinating description by an engineer, possibly telecommunications- or power-related, who performs yearly routine inspection and maintenance on equipment at McMurdo. Apparently this guy stays for only a short while, but because he risks getting stuck due to bad weather (sometimes for a weeks or perhaps months), he is required to pass a series of medical checkups beforehand, because the medical clinic at McMurdo has a small staff and can't deal with all types of emergencies or illnesses. The visitors are also required to pass a mandatory safety and survival course. It's a tough place to just visit for a drink.
posted by gentle at 5:14 PM on February 18, 2011

It would, I think, from a biological point of view, be kind of a dick move, on your part, to show up, have a few drinks with the locals, and then leave, 6 hours later. You'd be a great transient vector for influenza, colds, and a lot of other viral nasties, and you'd be gone, hours before new symptoms hit most of your unsuspecting targets, and so unavailable for tests and pathogen tracing.

Close knit, isolated, remote human communities often survive outside pathogens simply because they are isolated, and are never exposed to the worst of what the outside world can dump on them. Simple respect of the isolation of those at McMurdo Station would seem to suggest you keep your world trotting, apparently asymptomatic distance, if all you are going for is a stamp in your passport and a couple of beers...
posted by paulsc at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Says my friend:
Hilarious and also not possible. The map of McMurdo bars is sooooo
>But I will admit that within the first 6 hours of arriving to South Pole, I had a drink and was ready to leave. Didn't feel the same way about McMurdo though, people actually want to stay there for longer than 6 hours. :D
posted by k8t at 6:09 AM on February 21, 2011

« Older A lie that speaks the truth   |   Just Like Mom Used To Make, But Snobbier. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.