Located atop a windy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 metres – comprised mostly of ice, about 2,700 metres thick, covering the land surface – the Geographic South Pole is more than 1,200 kilometres from the nearest sea. Whereas the North Pole is at sea level in the middle of a heat-retaining ocean, the South Pole lies high in the middle of Antarctica, and boasts much colder temperatures. The average low is minus 28 °C at the height of the Antarctic summer, plummeting to minus 42 °C in February, minus 56 °C in March, then down into the minus 60s in the darkness of April to September.
The North Pole is our planet’s northernmost point, where the Earth’s axis of rotation intersects its surface. That elusive point is situated in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, where the sea ice is 2-3 metres thick during the winter months. Unlike the South Pole, which lies on a continent, the North Pole is a constantly changing, imaginary point on the ice sheet. Both Poles experience only one sunrise and one sunset each year: the sun is permanently above the horizon all summer, but never rises in winter.
The Three Poles challenge consists in reaching both poles as well as Mount Everest -which is considered to be earth's third pole. Nowadays, it is possible to fly to the north and south pole, but for it to count in the Three Poles Challenge, the poles need to be reached on foot, and all the way from the coast.