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How North Pole Expeditions Work


Trekking to the North Pole
A North Pole expedition team on skis pulling sledges through the snow
A North Pole expedition team on skis pulling sledges through the snow
Daisy Gilardini/The Image Bank/Getty Images

So, have we inspired you to brave the elements and make your own trek to the North Pole?

You're definitely going to want a heavy-duty coat and the best gear, but the most important part of your preparation may be making a warm fat layer on your own body. So start eating. The members of the McVitie's Penguin Relay (the first all-female group to reach the Pole, in 1997) consumed about 5,000 calories a day during their trek [source: McVitie's Penguin Polar Relay]. Whatever your method of travel -- skiing, hiking, road biking, dog sledding -- you can expect to consume a couple thousand calories a day more than that during training. The fat layer you build up will also help maintain your internal temperature -- your body has to work extra hard to do this in subzero temperatures.

While you're making a few extra trips to the buffet, you can start planning your trek. We'll begin with the gear. You'll need several layers of clothing for the same reason you need the extra fat: Hypothermia sets in at approximately 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius), and cardiac arrest occurs when your body temperature dips below 86 F (30 C) [source: Natural Resources Canada]. The problem with such a strenuous trek is that if your layers are too heavy, you could overheat, and sweat would immediately freeze to your skin. So, thinner, loose-fitting base layers made of sweat-wicking material are your best bet. For your feet, you'll probably want to invest in some snowshoes, because the snow and ice can get pretty deep. And so you don't get lost, you'll definitely want to bring a GPS system. Natural Resources Canada has a useful prep list for participants in its Polar Continental Shelf Project [source: Natural Resources Canada].

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