On December 14, 1958, the Third Soviet Antarctic Expedition became the first in the world to successfully conquer the Pole of Inaccessibility – the most difficult-to-reach place on the most remote continent on earth.
The so-called Southern Pole of Inaccessibility is the point in Antarctica furthest from the coastline of the Southern Ocean. It lies almost 3,800 meters above sea level and has the world's coldest year-round average temperature of around -57 degree Celsius.
As part of its contribution to the International Geophysical Year (IGY), the team of seventeen Soviet polar explorers, lead by Evgeny Tolstikov, left Sovetskaya Research Station on December 3. After traveling some 2100 km on “Pingvin” tractors in the most severe weather conditions, the group reached the POI on this day in 1958.
Upon arrival, the group commemorated the achievement with a small fireworks display and a celebratory dinner. Reaching this most remote point was not an end in itself. The goal was to conduct scientific observations. The party proceeded to establish a temporary research station where they carried out continuous geophysical observations. Scientists set up a radio mast, meteorological equipment, created a runway and built a hut, complete with a bust of Vladimir Lenin on the roof.
The site was occupied for only two weeks, until the end of the IGY, and then abandoned, though the shelter and basic equipment were left intact, including a visitor's book for those who make it to the site to sign. Another group of Soviet explorers reached the POI in 1964, but the idea of setting up a permanent station was rejected due to the high cost of construction and maintenance.
In 2008, members of a joint Norwegian-US International Antarctic Expedition to the Pole of Inaccessibility were shocked by an unexpected discovery. The group was greeted by a huge bust of Lenin who had been left there by the Soviet explorers back in 1958.
“The revolutionary Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin is visible from many kilometers away,” one of the surprised adventurers said, “and is facing Moscow.”
The station itself was buried under the snow up to its roof, but the plastic statue was able to withstand all the forces of nature. In the 50-year period the leader of world revolution had only gone a little yellow. The group took a picture with the statue in the background, picking up more media attention than they expected.
The temporary research station established by the Soviet explorers on that day in 1958 is protected as a historical site.