The first Finnish South Pole Expedition 2008

Introduction: the first time I saw Poppis and Pasi was in the office of ALE in Punta Arenas where we were preparing the next season in Patriot Hills, Antarctica. Two impressive guys, no high profile as often happens in this world. Once on the ice in Patriot Hills they started their unsupported trip to the South Pole. Every day they sent a picture, often those pictures were very funny and they became famous all around the camp. This is an example of an expedition that was extremely well prepared, and, most of all, despite the extreme and harsh conditions they enjoyed every single day of it! Below you find a few logs from their blog, that you can visit. The link is at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!  Marc De Keyser

11.11.2008 Now Skiing southbound

The first Finnish South Pole expedition set off today. The Twin Otter landed at Hercules Inlet in the afternoon and we got on our skis at 3:30 pm. We started by skiing two kilometres in the wrong direction to make sure we started at the correct point. Under international ethical rules, an Antarctic expedition must start at the edge of the icecap and at a point North of the 80 ° latitude. Our official point of departure is 79° 59.966S 079°37.838W.
The first day was short because of our late flight into Hercules Inlet. That suited us fine because getting accustomed to the expedition’s hardships is best done at a slow pace. Over a period of six hours we skied for more than five, covering just over ten kilometres - a perfect start and just enough to get sore, too.

With the sun shining from a clear sky, the Antarctic felt hot. The thermometer said 10 degrees Celsius below and down to 20 below by the evening. There was no wind and we stripped down to our undershirts and took off our gloves for a while. A thin buff was enough to protect our heads.
80° 00,880S 080°10,636W
Distance travelled 12,6 km
Distance to the Pole 1115 km
Weather Clear, cloudy in the evening, wind 2 m/s
Temperature -10° C, -20° C in the evening

15.11.2008 You get what you ask for

In snowdrift
Today we faced the conditions that we sought, ie, wind, driving snow and sunshine. We woke in the morning to the sound of the tent’s flapping which gave us the idea of brisk wind. Measured from the opening of the tent, wind speed was 16 m/s. However, it did slow down conveniently to under ten when we started, so not more than a suitable tilt to the right and keep going’. We had to increase the angle during the day, as the wind gained force. Already, 10-12 m/s wind seems to slow down travelling; per hour the effect is about half a kilometre. Although we were not yet ‘gone with the wind’, still the wind hindered us a bit. At times like this the stick does not hold and often the skis slide backwards. Also, while skiing in cross wind, the sledge goes its own way and is stunningly always under the wind’s command. Against sastrugi the sledge always finds the most difficult way.

Towards the Pole
Most of the day the horizon disappeared into scrappy fog, in spite of clear skies. The wind lifts fine snow powder from the snow that will from time to time take the visibility to zero. Despite the tough conditions, we enjoyed every moment. We did not feel cold for a single moment and these cold snowdrifts were exactly what we had come here for. It was also good to notice that continuing the expedition is not dependent on the gear. With the years of prolonged experience and long-span development work, we have a suitable set of equipment for these conditions.
In the evening we camped a little earlier than planned. During six hours we logged just over 13 kilometres which, taking the weather into account, was not bad at all. During the evening the wind increased again, to make the tent shudder as night song.
We have had several questions about the dragging ropes. We drag the sledge with one rope instead of dragging bars. Although in the mountain/fell area bars are often the most convenient, when climbing over the sastrugi the rope is the absolute choice. The sledge follows you unnoticeably and by using one rope the drag is balanced to both the sledge and the dragger’s hips. Because of the absence of descents there is no risk that the trailing sledge will override the skier.
80°31,777S 080°06,383W
Skiingtime 5,5h
Distance travelled 13,55 km
Distance to the pole 1057,7 km
Weather sunny, wind 12 m/s
Temperature - 10°C


Kari Poppis Suomela, 42, is an experienced polar explorer. He has skied to the magnetic and geographic north poles and across the Greenland ice cap. His goal is to be the 12th person in the world to reach both Poles unsupported.
Father of three children, he lives and runs his own business in Nurmijärvi. As a photographer, he has travelled all around the world. Poppis has a Master of Arts degree and is a Polytechnic engineer. He also runs Retki magazine’s tests.

Pasi Ikonen, 41, is an experienced ski guide and adventure racer. He lives in Enontekiö in northernmost Finland, with his British wife and their 60 huskies. They offer skiing and dog sleigh programmes through northern Scandinavia. As an adventure racer, Pasi has competed in the world elite for years. Amongst his best achievements is winning the prestigious Trans-Himalaya Raid Gauloises in 2000.
Pasi is also running Retki magazine gear tests.

Read more about this unique and most exciting expedition of two strong Finnish guys:

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