Ground transportation

Three expeditioners stand by a red Hagg vehicle with big ice mounds behind them.
Maintenance crew with their Hagg for transport towing equipment (Photo: Mark Watson)
A Hagg tilted dangerously to one side as it is stuck in a ditch caused by a tide crack.The Hagg towing a trailer.Hägglunds driving across the ice, away from the camera

For early explorers, ground transport on the Antarctic continent was fraught with difficulty and danger. Roald Amundsen’s success in first reaching the South Pole has been attributed to his excellent organisation, including the strategic use of huskies to haul sledges heavily-laden with supplies for survival. Captain Robert Scott’s preference for man-hauling and ponies slowed their progress and made for agonising work for the men and the animals.

Douglas Mawson employed both dogs and sheer human grunt to move their precious cargo of food, shelter and scientific samples they had collected. However, the wind-swept ice made for difficult movement across terrain full of crevasses, sastrugi and other life-threatening hazards.

Over time machinery has replaced man-hauling and huskies have been replaced by Hägglunds, Swedish vehicles used in Antarctica since 1983. Designed for military use with tracks to travel over snow, they are the most recent in a series of methods for moving people and gear in support of science and station life.