1418 people have wintered over at the South Pole between 1957 and 2014. Since some of these folks wintered more than once, there actually have been a total of 1735 winterover positions. And if you haven't found the winterover lists yet, they are included, along with photos and other information as available, in the timeline entries for each year. Actually I should also say that there is a complete database spreadsheet, with winterover numbers, updated through 2014 on this web site, slightly hidden to protect the list of names from spammers. Access is available to Polies upon request. I must add that my recent change of web hosts has adjusted the login slightly, so the old information won't work (email me). I'm pretty confident that the list is complete and accurate, if only because it has been more than eight years since someone wrote me claiming I'd left someone out :)
In 2014 we have 41 NPX winterovers, 8 women and 33 men. This is the smallest total since 1999, the first year of significant winter construction work on the elevated station. when there were also 41 folks. The largest crowd of women was in 2005 when there were 24, and 86 people in all, the largest winter crew ever (which included me). In the old days, the first three years with women (1979-81) there was only one of them on station.
Eleven of the 2014 winterovers have previously wintered at least once. The leaders in this category are Robert Schwarz and Johan Booth who are now tied with a record TEN winters. Others now on station with multiple winters include Jack Sharp with four, John Hammon, Derek Sargent, and Neal Scheibe with three, and Kaycee Flaugher, Robert Hase, Nicholas Huang, Travis Kamlya, and William Morris with two winters.
"Old" news perhaps as it were, it turns out that the 2011 crew included some new statistics for the oldest winterovers. Dr. Jim Borden, the surgeon from Alaska, turned 74 at the end of July; and greenhouse tech Susan MacGregor had her 62nd birthday in mid-May 2011. The previous record on the men's side was held by Dr. Malcolm Arnold, who was 65 at the end of the 2008 winter. For the women, it is a bit more complicated...Dr. Betty Carlisle had her 63rd birthday after her 2001 winter ended, so she was 6 months older than Susan. But...Betty wasn't around for the entire winter, she showed up in April 2001 on the medevac that took out Dr. Ron Shemenski. So Susan is the oldest woman to spend an ENTIRE winter at Pole...as well as the oldest woman 300 club initiate.
On 1 January 2014 the latest and greatest Pole marker (above) was unveiled. It was
designed by Dana Hrubes and created by machinist Steele Diggles...(more photos and
In 2007, Robert Schwarz alone held the record for six winters. But he wasn't back until 2011, so Johan Booth, Barry Horbal and Steffen Richter caught up with him in 2008, and Johan and Steff later passed him up. In 2013 Robert caught up with them, so the three of them (Johan, Steffen and Robert) all had 9 winters...and this year Robert and Johan are back again for #10. Dana Hrubes is next with seven winters, and Barry Horbal has six. Five people are behind them with five winters: Tracy Blair, Tommy Barker, Heidi Lim, Rod Jensen, and Jake Speed (Joseph Gibbons). Jake was the first to reach this milestone. (He was back at Pole for awhile in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 summers, but he'd been spending some of the "off seasons" at Summit and/or with wife Kath) and more recently he has been recovering from losing some limbs at Summit in 2009.
Nine people have wintered a total of 4 times. In addition to Jack Sharp, this group also includes Dennis Calhoun, Allan Day, Weeks Heist, Drew Logan, Paul Lux, Jason McDonald, Sue O'Reilly, and Kevin Shea.
With 3 winters, there now are 45 people...Derek Aboltins, Brien Barnett, Dave Benson, Rhys Boulton, Yubecca Bragg, Betty Carlisle, Robert (Gumby) Carlson, Clayton Cornia, Ethan Dicks, Steele Diggles, Nate Dyer, Terry Eddington, Tom Edwards, Lis Fano/Grillo, Ethan Good, John Hammon, Slay Harwell, Bill Henriksen, Katie Hess, Kitt Hughes, Katy Jensen/McNitt, Ricardo Lopez, Tim Markle, Janice Martin, Jon Martin, Sheri McKeen/Mason, Jason Medley, Jed Miller, Matt Newcomb, Jon Olander, Lee Parker, John Parlin, Kris Perry, Michael Rehm, Elizabeth Rose, Eric Sandberg, Derek Sargent, Neal Scheibe, Mike Scholz, Rob Shaw, Will Silva, Paul Smith, Bill Spindler, Leah Webster, and Noah White. 143 people have wintered twice.
On New Years Day 2013, the marker which was both designed and created by 2012
machinist Derek Aboltins was revealed...featuring the alignment of the Sun, Moon,
planets, and the Southern Cross as located in the skies on 1 January. Here are more
pictures of the marker and the unveiling ceremony.
Robert Schwarz is now in his fourth consecutive winter. Two of the 2008 crew, Heidi Lim and Kevin Shea, were in their fourth consecutive winter that year. Two of the 2006 w/o's, Allan Day and Barry Horbal, were in their fourth consecutive winter (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006) (Barry was back in 2008). With three consecutive winters through 2008 are Johan Booth and Michael Rehm. Through 2007 can be added Brien Barnett and Robert Schwarz. Also with 3 consecutive winters as of 2006: Rhys Boulton, Clayton Cornia, and Mike Scholz...Jason Medley also had 3 consecutive winters (2001-2003). No one else has more than two consecutive winters.
1 January 2012...midway between the Amundsen and Scott centenary commemorations, yet
another fantastic Pole marker was unveiled. And again, it had moving parts, as well as that
enigmatic abbreviation "LGN" which has appeared on many of these markers. Steele Diggles,
the machinist from Australia, created it, and, well, check out more photos of the marker and
In the new station era, there were only 43 people wintering in 2009--two more than this season. And there weren't any records in 2009...except perhaps that there were only 4 returning winterovers--an unusually low number for recent times. That low number is not at all unusual--in the old days there weren't many returnees--in my first 1977 winter we were all FNG's. All of the returning 2009 winterovers (Todd Adams, Weeks Heist, Lance Roth and Jack Sharp) were around with me in 2008 for their first winter.
2008 may not have had the most people, the most women, or any other similar "firsts," but that year did have a unique bit of history with both the oldest AND the youngest people at the time to winter at Pole. It seems that our good Doctor Malcolm Arnold was 64--he turned 65 in September 2008...however it seems that he was outdone by about 10 years by Dr. Jim Borden in 2011. But the 2008 record for the youngest winterovers still stands: TWO folks on station, carpenter Andy Titterington and comms tech Shaun Meehan, were age 18 when they showed up at the beginning of the summer. Shaun turned 19 on 14 December, and Andy turned 19 a month later on 13 January, making Andy the youngest w/o Polie, beating out Larry Duckett, the 1975 winter cook, who was 19 when he showed up at the beginning of the 74-75 summer, and Eric Siefka, who was also 19 when he wintered in 1982. Oh, for 1 day there were 3 19-year-old w/o's on station, but UT Aditya Tata turned 20 on 14 January 2008.
On New Years Day 2011, this amazing marker made its appearance! The first with a finished
wood base and moving parts! An excellent South Pole marker for the centennial year of the
first visits to this place, long before there was a permanent station! This marker was designed
during the 2010 winter by David Holmes, and created by machinist Derek Aboltins. Here is the
rest of the story about the marker and the installation ceremony.
This has brought up the question--how many women have wintered? Well, thanks to some male and female Pole Souls and Polies who helped me clear up my questions about ambiguous names, As of 2014, the total is 205. This includes one person, Heidi Lim (now married and Heidi Rehm) with 5 winters, one (Sue O'Reilly) with 4 winters, 12 with 3 winters, 25 with 2 winters, and 158 with one. The first woman was Michele Raney, the doctor in 1979, and the second was Martha Kane Savage, the cosray observer in 1980--both of whom are great people and good friends. Initially this was considered an "experiment" and there were only one or two women at Pole during the winter. Thankfully the powers-that-be decided to quit experimenting a few years later and get with the times.
The first woman to winter at all 3 of the current US stations was Carol Crossland...she wintered first at McMurdo in 1991, then (after a few summers here and there) at Pole in 1998 and Palmer Station in 1999. As for the second woman to do so (that I know about), she's Wendy Beeler, who wintered at Palmer in 2006, Pole in 1999, and McMurdo in 1992 and 1998. Yubecca Bragg completed the hat trick at McMurdo in 2008. She's currently beginning her eighth winter, this time back at Palmer Station. More recently, Rachel Javorsek finished a 2012 winter at Palmer Station...she wintered at Pole in 2011 and at McM in 2008. And the newest addition to this list is Clair Von Handorf, who is at Pole this year after wintering at McM in 2009 and at Palmer in 2010, 2011, and 2012. As for the men...it turns out there have been a number of them. The most recent addition to this list is Bob DeValentino, who was the winter site manager at Palmer Station in 2013 and again for 2014. Bob reported that he'd spent at least one summer and at least one winter at all 3 stations, I'm not sure how many other folks can claim that. Additionally (in no particular order as I don't have all the data) we have at least Robert (Gumby) Carlson, Larry Mjolsness, Al O'Kelly, Paul Lux, Jordan Dickens, Jack Anderson, Brad Kuehn, Paul Daniels, Jed Miller, Damien Henning...I understand at least 38 folks may have wintered at all of the 3 current stations so I've obviously missed a few.
Another interesting overall program statistic...as of the 2013-14 summer season there were two people on the ice for their 35th consecutive season...Jules Uberuaga and Rob Robbins. Jules did her first season in 1979-80 as a GFA at Pole. She was interviewed by KIVI TV (Boise) in September 2012 just before heading south. She was also interviewed in May 2012 by Boise TV station KTVB--here's that uncut interview with link to the original article. Rob's work involves diving...despite global warming, fortunately there is not much of call for that specialty at Pole.
The first two family members to winter at Pole (not in the same year) were brothers and scientists Henn Oona in 1964 and Hain Oona in 1968 (as of February 2012, Henn (Hank) and Hain were both still working at Los Alamos National Laboratory). Their family emigrated to the US from Estonia when they were young boys...so it also seems that Henn and Hain are the only two Estonian-born folks to winter. The second two brothers to winter were Bill Smythe (UCLA gravity, 1977) and brother Chuck (NOAA, 1979).
This unique 2010 marker features the South Pole Telescope along with 43 IceCube DOMs,
one for each of the 2009 wo's.It was designed and fabricated by the 2009 SCOARA machinist
Steele Diggles. More information and photos by Forest Banks, including the placement ceremony
on New Years Day...
Nationalities on station in 2014--IceCuber Dag Larsen is the first Norwegian to winter--rather surprising considering that the first five Polies were Norwegians. This year's machinist is Matthew Krahn from Canada--he's one of 14 Canadians to winter--that list includes two winter site managers (the list of Canadians). And of course there's Robert Schwarz from Germany.
In 2013, Ice Cube team member Felipe Pedreros Bustos was the first Chilean to winter at Pole, something a bit surprising given Chile's extensive involvement in the Antarctic over the years. And Blaise Kuo Tiong, the other IceCuber, was born in Manila--his family relocated from the Philippines to Los Angeles when he was nine. He's the second Filipino to winter...the first was Cesar Ambalada who wintered in 1966, he was the electrician (a US Navy EM1, first-class electricians mate). The other two non-Americans to winter in 2013 were that indefatigable German Robert Schwarz, and Aussie Steele Diggles.
2012 brought the second Spaniard to winter--Carlos Pobes was one of the two IceCube scientists. The first person from Spain to winter was Francisco Navarro, the 1984 UCLA scientist. 2012 also included cook Kasia (Kate) McGrew from Poland.
The first Japanese-American to winter was US Weather Bureau researcher Fred Mayeda in 1959...but he was an American citizen. The first Japanese citizen showed up to winter a year later in 1960--Dr. Masakiyo (Henry) Morozumi, studying auroras, with the Arctic Institute of North America--he has a web site. The first Hispanic was Jose Gomez in 1961...the first African-American was probably Rod Miles in 1969 (another had wintered at Byrd in 1961).
The first Russian (Soviet) exchange scientist was Peter Astakhov in 1967; he was followed 10 years later by Alex Zaitsev in 1977. A year later in 1978, Alex was followed up by Rurik M. Galkin in 1978, and Yuri Latov wintered in 1982. From the post-Soviet era, Russian Nikolai Makarov wintered in 1995, and Ukrainian Nick (Nicolai) Starinski wintered in 1999.
The first Kiwi men were met observers Barry Porter and Bernie Maguire in 1976, and the first NZ women were carpenters Kate Batten and Vicky Ward in 2005 (the complete list of all 24 New Zealanders)
The first Australian was Barry Woodberry who came down with the US National Bureau of Standards in 1966. The second Aussie is also notable--Graeme Currie wintered in 1981 (he wintered eleven times at various ANARE and other stations)...the first Australian woman was AST/RO observer Jules Harnett in 2004. There have been at least 16 so far who have wintered (list of Australians).
1966 was a rather cosmopolitan year at Pole. In addition to Barry Woodberry from Australia, the winterovers with non-US citizenship included the Bartol cosray researcher Lars Andersson from Sweden, and Navy electrician EM1 Cesar Ambalada from the Philippines.
The 1 January 2009 marker seen here was designed and created by the 2008 w/o
SCOARA machinist Dave Postler This photo is by Reinhart Piuk. More on the
marker and the New Years Day ceremony...
Speaking of Swedes, it seems that the second Swedish w/o was IceCube guy Sven Lidström; he wintered in 2007 and was back for 2012. The first Polie from Sweden was cosray observer Lars Andersson in 1966.
From a bit south of Sweden in the Low Countries, there have been two Belgians--Freija Descamps, one of the 2011 IceCube observers, and Jean-Marie Moreau, the 1990 doctor. And Erik Verhagen, with IceCube in 2009, was the first Dutch citizen to do so.
Noah White, radioman/comms guy, wintered three times in 1967, 1970, and 1979. He is the only person to winter both at the original station (Old Pole) and under the dome...and the only person to winter both as a Navy man and a civilian. Yes, I've met him, he's a good guy.
1995 and 1996 were interesting winters...1995 was the last year WITH a scheduled midwinter airdrop and WITHOUT internet. They also were the first years when anyone wintered consecutively--Australian astronomer James (Jamie) Lloyd and NOAA science tech Jeff Otten wintered in both 1995 and 1996.
Back to nationalities...it now seems that the first German to winter did so back in the real old days of 1972--gravity geophysicist and German citizen Walter Zürn, who was spending time at UCLA after graduation from Stuttgart. Next was 1983 w/o geophysicist Hans-Albert Dahlheim, who was studying the gravitational pull of the Moon (and won the Round the World Race). Matthias Rumitz (AST/RO) and Robert Schwarz (AMANDA) were next, in 1997. By now there are twelve total...here is the list of Germans. As for the French, probably the title for the first man goes to the 2006 BICEP researcher Denis Barkats, and 2009 IceCube w/o Camille Parisel is the first woman--she previously spent 14 months at Dumont d'Urville through the 2001 winter. There have been two italians--in 2011 is science tech Marco Tortonese, and the first one was Paolo Calisse, the 2003 VIPER/AASTO winterover. 2010 (and 2011 and 2012) brought Ricardo Lopez, the first Polie originally from the Dominican Republic, and 2005 featured the first Jamaican, HR person Kurt Montas.
Here's the marker placed on 1 January 2008, designed by 2007 w/o facilities engineer
Laura Rip...and created by SCOARA machinist Derek Aboltins. Photo courtesy Glenn
Grant (whom I finally got to meet in person!). More information about the marker and
photos of the ceremony are here.
Laser scientist Ashraf El-Dakrouri, who wintered in 2000, was the first Egyptian (and the first person from any Arab or Muslim nation) to winter at Pole (profile article from the 16 January 2000 Antarctic Sun). Hein Van Bui, the 1988 w/o computer tech, was the first person from Vietnam to winter. He was followed by Hien Nguyen, the 1994 SPIREX researcher/SSL; and Xuan Ta, the 2004 Title II inspector. There have been three Chinese (PRC) citizens to winter: AST/RO astronomer Xiaolei Zhang (1998), AMANDA researcher Xinhua Bai (1999), and Kecheng Xiao (AST/RO, 2002).
We've had three people from India winter...the first was Roopesh Ojha, a citizen of the Republic of India who wintered with CARA/ASTRO in 1999. Also there with him that year was science tech Reza Mossadeque (of Indian and Bangladeshi origin, although he was an American citizen when he wintered). Next is 2007 w/o Karthik Soundarapandian, another India citizen, who wintered and is currently working with IceCube.
There are thirteen winterovers that I know are at least partly from Canada...most recently 2012 plumber Jean-Pierre (JP) Brunel, who was actually the first Québécois to winter. JP grew up in Québec speaking only French until he moved to Colorado later in his adult life. The group of Canadians also includes the winter site managers for two years in a row...Renée Nicole Douceur in 2011 and Mel MacMahon in 2010. And there were three more of them in 2009. Here's the list of Canadians.
From the UK I believe we have had thirteen winterovers (which includes a couple of folks with dual NZ/British citizenship), most recently 2009 SPT astronomer Ross Williamson (list of British citizens). And from an emerald island next to the UK it seems 2010 winter site manager Mel MacMahon claims both Irish and Canadian heritage, and 1990 CUSP associate Richard Collins was an Irish citizen.
From elsewhere in Europe, note that 2012 cook Kate McGrew was the first Pole to winter at Pole (!) From a bit south of there, Monique Gerbex, the 2003 work order planner, hails from Switzerland. Finally, back in the US of A (but not the 50 states), electrician Osvaldo Torres, who wintered in 2004, hails from Puerto Rico.
The 2007 Pole marker (Antarctic photo library, photo by Glenn Grant). The marker was
designed by 2006 (and 2005 :) AND 2004 w/o electrician Clayton Cornia. Yes...once
again, each dimple represents one of the 64 winterovers.
Some station management statistics (these refer to the winter site manager, not the area manager/resident manager position, which was created for the first time for the 1977-78 summer. The year before then, the station manager had, shall I say (since it was I ;-), a bit more to do during the summer.
During the Navy days, none of the OIC's ever wintered more than once at Pole in any capacity (although several wintered elsewhere). During the Dome era, many of the managers had previously wintered in another position--the first of these being Tom Plyler who was the power plant mechanic in 1975 and manager in 1981. Two managers to date have subsequently returned to winter again in another position: Gary Freeman was manager in 1992 and returned as SEH coordinator (safety/environmental/health) in 1995. And Bill Spindler, who was manager in 1977, returned 28 years later (the longest recorded gap between winters) to winter in 2005 as Title II inspector and in 2008 as a project engineer.
Another first for the 2005 winter--Bill Henriksen was the first person to return for the second time as manager--in 2003 he had the same job (his first winter was as Title II inspector in 2000). In 2006, 2007, and 2008 he wintered in McMurdo as the NSF manager. Katie Hess, the 2008 manager, returned to do that again in 2012.
Janet Phillips in 1994 was the first female manager. After the McMurdo winfly, all 3 US stations had female management for the first time--Karen Schwall at McM and Ann Peoples at Palmer as well as Janet (her article about the experience). Oh, Janet went on to manage Palmer Station in 1996.
Three managers during the civilian era were last-minute replacements--Dan Morton in 1976, Rich Wiik in 1983, and Dennis O'Neill in 1991. Rich and Dennis had been at Pole, scheduled to winter in other positions, but Dan had NOT worked at Pole and was not originally scheduled to winter until 1977. All 3 guys are friends of mine and did well.
Last but not least, one statistic that had nothing to do with Pole until this season. For a number of years since 2004, power plant mechanic Rocky (Gerald or Gerry) Ness held the all-time record for 15 Antarctic winters--all at Palmer and McMurdo. But in 2014 that record is being broken by two people. George Lampman is beginning his sixteenth CONSECUTIVE winter...all of them at McMurdo, where this year he is again is operations supervisor. He was documented in the film Antarctica: A Year On Ice. And at Pole, Johan is in his 16th winter, none of which have been at McMurdo. Go figure. And there may yet be others that I'm unaware of...
Yes, I know, there must be more vital stats--send em to me!!
The 2006 Pole marker (Antarctic photo library, photo by 2006
w/o Joe Tarnow. The marker was designed by 2005 w/o Stephen
Parshley...each dimple represents one of the 86 winterovers)
Thanks to Katy Jensen, who originally crunched the data to produce many of the statistics you see here. Please recognize that the nationality information is based only on published publicly available data and voluntary contributions. Credits for the photos at the top of the page--the group in the left photo is the 1957 team, note Paul Siple in the back row (caption and more information); and the motley crew in the right photo is, of course, the 1977 Pole Souls :). The panorama below is the 2004 w/o picture by Glen Kinoshita.