South Pole innovation: The Skirt

South Pole innovation: The Skirt

Posted: Dec 09, 2014 04:43 am EST


(By Correne Coetzer) Wearing a skirt on a polar ski expedition become more and more popular on expeditions to prevent [guaranteed] frostbite and chilblains on the knees, upper legs, and more areas.


Earlier this year Finnish guide, Jaakko Heikka, told Explorersweb about one of the "big hits" on his Greenland horizontal ski crossing. "The insulated skirt was also one of the big hits on our expedition: it can literally save your butt (or other body pieces) in the cold. It's easy to put on and take of even with skis on making adjusting easy. I think ease of use is one of the key elements with any expedition equipment. When it suddenly gets cold and windy you don't want to take off your shell clothing to put on a warm middle layer, but add something on top of it all: insulated skirt, down vest, warm boot covers, big warm mittens, etc.”


Last month, before Keith Heger left for the South Pole, guiding PolarExplorers team on the Messner Route to the South Pole, he said one of his favorite gear items is his custom made Brenig Anorak. "Graham and I have been working together on this design that incorporates a skirt which can be folded up easily and stuffed with extra insulation around the waist and thigh area.” 


Graham Ogle from Brenig explained to Explorersweb that Keith is currently trying their Mark 2 version of the skirt, "which fastens up inside the main garment when not wanted and can be pulled down or fastened up during the day.” Graham is eagerly waiting for Keith’s feedback as he is working on the design in the mean time.


French lady, Stéphanie Gicquel, currently on an estimated 80-day ski crossing from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf via the Geographic South Pole to Hercules Inlet, is showing her skirt in the image on the left. 


Polar record holder, Hannah McKeand, who has completed 6 full route ski expeditions to the South Pole, one in a solo record time, and 4 guiding for ANI, had also used an isolated skirt for her and her teams. She has guided only men to the Pole.  





South Pole update: "skiing in a pumpkin-field with a blindfold”


Ski North Pole from Russia: Victor Boyarsky talks to Explorersweb


Finland’s Jaakko Heikka talks to ExWeb about Greenland’s horizontal ski route


ExplorersWeb Interviews


PolarExplorers guide, Keith Heger’s Top Tips, Gear, and Menu treats


ExWeb interview with Are Johansen, "snow is the best surface for long journeys”


ExWeb interview with Frédéric Dion, invention and modification for the South Pole of Inaccessibility


ExWeb interview with Ian Evans, skier with PolarExplorers on Messner Route


ExWeb interview with Newall Hunter, solo South Pole skier: "pretty hectic last preparations"


French married couple and Norwegian adventurer for South Pole crossing: ExWeb interview with couple


ExWeb interview with Tractor Girl, Manon Ossevoort: tractor passed tests and arrived in Cape Town


ExWeb post South Pole interview with Fagan couple


Lessons from a yachtswoman: Paula Reid to ski to the South Pole


Geoff Wilson’s Top 5 South Pole Tips


ExWeb interview with Faysal Hanneche, "I learned to be patient on Antarctica"


Rules and Regulations in No-Man's Land: ExWeb interview with ALE's Steve Jones


Mount Sidley, Antarctica’s highest volcano accessible to climbers


Polar Technology


Rules and Regulations in No-Man's Land: ExWeb interview with ALE's Steve Jones


Polar Tech Week Roundup: 2014/2015 Recommendations


Your Smart Phone going Global: Review of Iridium Go


ExWeb Special: 2014 Polar Tech Roundtable Conference


HumanEdgeTech Expedition Technology (e.g.CONTACT software)



Follow daily team blogs with RSS feeds in the News Stream at Explorersweb


Unassisted Supported

(no resupplies, wind-support)


Solo traverse Novo - GSP- Hercules Inlet

Faysal Hanneche (FR)


Assisted Supported

(resupply, wind-support)


Kite-ski Novo - South Pole of Inaccessibility

Frédéric Dion (CA)


Assisted Unsupported

(resupplies, no wind/vehicles)


Traverse Messner - GSP - Hercules Inlet

Stéphanie Gicquel(FR)

Jérémie Gicquel (FR) 

Are Johansen (NO) 


Newall Hunter(UK, Messner to GSP)


Adventure Consultants team

Hercules Inlet route

Einar Torfi Finnsson (IS, guide)

Hugh Dougall (CA)

William (Bill) Morrison (UK)

Tim Garrett (AU)


ANI Messner Route team 

Robert Smith (guide)

Paula J Reid (UK)

Arabella Slinger (UK)

Julian Thomas (UK)

Vincent Piguot (Switzerland)


PolarExplorers team

Messner route

Keith Heger (CA, guide) 

Ian Evans (CA) 

Andy Styles (UK) 

Bradley Cross (UK)


Assisted Supported


Return Journey

Tractor expedition (Novo - GSP - Novo)

Matty McNair (US, Expedition Lead Guide)

Manon Ossevoort (NL, Lead driver)

Sarah McNair-Landry (CA, Expedition Guide and Audio-Visual Support) 

Nicolas Bachelet (Lead Mechanic) 

Simon Foster (Creative Director and Audio-Visual Lead) 

Arnór Ingólfsson (Expedition Leader and Arctic Truck Driver 1)

Jóhannes Guðmundsson(Arctic Truck Driver 2)

Arctic Trucks


Non-coastal start:

Outer Edge snow sailer (AU)

return journey

Polar Plateau South of Novo to GSP and possible return via POI to Novo Base

Kristan Ficher 

Charles Werb

Adrian McCallum (leader)

Jon Moody





2014-15 South Pole list - Updated


AdventureStats and Rules of Adventure


Ski North Pole from Russia: Victor Boyarsky talks to Explorersweb


Kenn Borek stops supporting North Pole expeditions


“While it is a risk, that is part of the appeal”, Bob Maxwell to sail and skidoo to the South Pole


Antarctica news bits


Mission to Mars: Stage 2 Report


A journey to the South Pole in a wheelchair


Antarctica video trilogy


Video: Second 2012-13 Ilyushin-76 flight lands at Union Glacier, Antarctica


NASA Worldview


Current Polar Sea Ice Situation (Sept 2014)


Animated map of global weather conditions


New satellite map of Antarctica freely available


Antarctic ski/climb/pole/science Logistic Operators


Adventure Network International (ANI and ALE)


Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI and TAC)



Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa: 

To ALCI /TAC base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo 

70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E 


Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America: 

To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier 

79° 45'S, 083° 14'W


Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S near Union Glacier, 1130 km from the Geographic South Pole.

The Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner) start is 890 km in a straight line from the Pole.

The bottom of the Leverett Glacier, at the Ross Ice Shelf, is located at about 85ºS, a distance of 550 km from the Geographic South Pole.

Axel Heiberg Glacier start is also located at the Ross Ice Shelf and 535 km in a straight line from the South Pole.

Novo Base to South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) is 1610 km in a straight line.


According to the Rules of Adventure, to claim a “solo" achievement, requires an unassisted status - therefore no supplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything (food, fuel, etc) received from any person along the way. A solo person may be wind supported (kites/sails). Note that the Polar Rules were compiled by early Norwegian and British Polar explorers and are maintained today by the current community of veteran polar skiers.


1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km

1 nm = 1.151 miles

1 knot = 1.852 km/h

1 degree of Latitude is 110 km / 60 nm / 70 miles

Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet

A nunatak is a top of a mountain visible above the snow surface.


South Pole of Inaccessibility (POI)

2011-12 position: 

S82°06.696, E055°01.951

Geographic South Pole (GSP): 90 degrees South












Stephanie wearing her skirt.
courtesy Stephanie & Jeremie Gicquel, SOURCE