| AMUNDSEN-SCOTT SOUTH POLE STATION, Antarctica
AMUNDSEN-SCOTT SOUTH POLE STATION, Antarctica (Reuters) -
The 300 Club is not for the faint of heart. Or the cold of
blood. This traditional winter rite at the South Pole is
considered slightly unusual even by those who have earned the
right to call themselves members of the club.
One of those is Andy Martinez, the South Pole winter site
Membership requirements are simple and brutal: The
temperature outside at the South Pole must be -100 degrees F
(-73 degrees C) or lower -- without factoring in wind chill,
To qualify, initiates must sit in a sauna cranked up to 200
degrees F (93 degrees C) for as long as they can stand, then
run -- naked except for a pair of insulated boots and an
optional neck gaiter -- around the South Pole and back. That
means club members experience a 300-degree swing in
"You run around the pole, hitting all 24 time zones, and
you go back in your birthday suit," he said.
Underwear is discouraged, Martinez said, because it tends
to get damp with perspiration in the sauna and then instantly
freezes when the wearer hits the sub-sub-zero air. Cuts from
boxer shorts can be a hazard.
The neck gaiter goes over nose and mouth to prevent the
cold air from freezing the lungs, he said.
It was 104 degrees below zero F (-75.5 degrees C) the year
Martinez joined the club. The wind chill made it feel like -144
degrees F (-97.7 degrees C).
"It just felt like somebody was hitting me with a tennis
racket full of needles," he recalled.
Will he try it again this coming winter?
"I say no, but -- peer pressure."