South Pole QSL cards

Nowadays we have satellite phone hookups plus voice-over-IP (VoIP, or "internet phone calls") from Pole when the satellites permit, but once upon a time ham radio was the only way to talk to the folks at home. Here are a few of the QSL cards which Pole used to document radio conversations with the rest of the world. These were very popular, and took a bunch of time for the QSL manager back in the States to keep track of and send out.

cold pole

This is probably the first QSL card from Pole...vintage DF-III (1957-58).

map quest?

This one may well be the second card; this particular one is cancelled October 1965 (view of other side).


This one is from 1972. The US* call signs were used by the Navy-operated Antarctic facilities, which of course included Pole at that point. This is one of a series of cards used for the various stations with only the call sign and QTH (location on the map of Antarctica) different. Here's what the back of this one looked like.

hello old pole

Here's another from Old Pole around the same time, showing a trackmaster parked at the main entrance (Holy stairs).

Seabees can do

This card was for the ham station operated by the Seabee battalion NMCB-71. The battalion constructed the dome, arches, and all major structures of the new station. The original ham shack was constructed from a shipping crate at the dome end on the galley side of the street. It was next door to the officers' berthing Jamesway (called the "Courthouse" by the troops). It was located there so that officers could speak to their superiors via radio whenever atmospheric conditions allowed.

CQ CQpolie pole

Here's our 1976-77 card...our regular contacts included Ken McLeish (W7TX) and the late Big John Stagnaro (W6MAB).

Sasha from Denis

Another card, this one unique to 1977, used by our Russian exchange scientist Alex Zaitzev. Alex was one of our 5 licensed ham radio operators.

blue moon noaa way

This blue card that I recently acquired was sent out in 1992 by the w/o NOAA researcher Dale Kysor. There was more than one QSO with this guy, here is a second card from a few days earlier.


This one was created by Peggy Klinedinst, the 1993 w/o meteorologist.

satcom is in This newer official card shows the SPSDL (South Pole Satellite Data Link [to McM]) antenna dome, which was erected in the mid '80's. Hmm. I don't think they ever got the met records right on these cards. Credits for the above cards...the DF-III card is from Billy-Ace Baker; the 1965 card is a hard copy I acquired a couple of years ago; the next KC4USN card is from Ron May who ran the station in 1972; B&W Old Pole cards are from David Mills, who worked these stations. Alex's 1977 card is courtesy Scott Smith. Dale's card is another recent acquisition. That fancy red one is courtesy of Wes Thorn, and the one at left is from John Van Putten....

is that all?weight a minute
Okay...let's keep going with some newer ones from this century. The rest of these were sent to me from Pole by Skip Withrow in 2001-02. Skip spent several summers at Pole and also went to Palmer to work on the satcom installation during the 2002 winter. Anyway, we'll start with this one from Neil Conant, a South Pole institution since, well, I met him at Siple before that started...the back side includes his photo.

standing out side dome de dome

This is Skip's version, complete with that all-important Polie hero shot on the back side. For folks who know what Skip looks like, he sent them this version...

the buried box dome de dome This card is from Nikolai Makarov, who visited Pole for several summers working on the meteor radar project for UC in Boulder. He was involved when the first system was installed in 1995-96...this card is from his 2000-01 and 2001-02 visits. Since I didn't get the back side of the QSL card, I threw in a photo of Nikolai in the ham shack, from his web site (the Pole frame).

nick, phone home moving up Here is Nick Powell's card...notable since it features the new station as well as the SPMGT (South Pole MARISAT-GOES terminal), albeit sans radome. Nick is still around, and he just sent me another version of this one.

shack up
A view of the ham shack in 2001-02. During my 2005 winter this room
was still around, but a year later it went away with the rest of the comms
building. The new official "ham shack" in wing B1 of the elevated station
is literally too small to get a good photograph of...

for a good time call 000 the dome is, er...

Well, with the historic dome comms and ham shack gone, so at last is the old dome QSL card. Here is a newer one received on 8 December 2006, with thanks to Nick Powell and Jerry Marty.