For early explorers, ground transport on the Antarctic continent was fraught with difficulty and danger.
Roald Amundsen's expedition was the first to reach the South Pole in 1911. The success of his expedition was due, in part, to his strategic use of huskies to haul sledges heavily-laden with survival supplies. In contrast, Robert Scott’s expedition did not survive the return journey from the pole. His preference for man-hauling and ponies slowed his expedition’s progress, and made for agonising work for both the men and the animals. His recovered diaries show that he was beaten to the pole by Amundsen.
Douglas Mawson followed Amundsen’s example. He employed both dogs and human power on his 1911 expedition. In this manner, he transported a precious cargo of food, shelter and scientific samples. Even so, the wind-swept ice and extreme weather conditions made it difficult to move across terrain full of crevasses.
From the mid-20th century, machine power largely replaced man-hauling and dog sledges for long traverses. The Weasel was the first mechanical oversnow vehicle used by Australia on the Antarctic continent. Tractors, such as the Caterpillar D4, were used in the field and on station.
Today, tracked oversnow vehicles such as Hägglunds move people and gear in Antarctica.