The Coldest Journey Begins

The Coldest Journey has begun. After a one-day, weather-related delay, the five-man Ice Team and two Cat® D6Ns headed off into the polar winter on March 21. It was the beginning of the first attempt to cross Antarctica in the winter.

The specially-modified Cat D6Ns play a key role in the expedition, pulling cabooses for accommodation, scientific work and storage, including jet fuel designed not to freeze.

The machines will be exposed to the coldest conditions on earth during the six-month journey. Cat Finning Mechanics Spencer Smirl and Richmond Dykes are part of the Ice Team. They have the tasks of driving and maintaining the D6Ns during The Coldest Journey.

To learn more about the Coldest Journey, and the role the D6Ns play, visit

The five-man Ice Team have been putting the two specially-modified Cat D6Ns to early tests in dealing with the elements in Antarctica.  One of the biggest challenges was setting up a fuel depot in the mountains.   The team and the machines had to endure difficult terrain, frequent whiteout conditions and the loss of their leader (Sir Ranulph Fiennes was evacuated from Antarctica after getting a severe case of frostbite on his fingers).

Cat Finning Engineers Spencer Smirl and Richmond Dykes are part of the Ice Team, driving and servicing the D6Ns.  The early reviews of the machines’ performance have been good, with a recent tweet from Antarctica saying, “Newly serviced D6N Cats doing what they do best!  Ice Train speeding north, going 3.6 knots at 10.00hrs.  Finning we are grateful.”

Caterpillar and Finning engineers worked together for three years to make hundreds of modifications to the Cat D6N to ensure they were ready for some of the coldest temperatures and harshest conditions on earth.

The D6Ns are equipped with several modifications to deal with the extreme conditions, including changes to the core heating system and insulation to cope in the extreme cold.

The machines’ primary task is to lead the Ice Train, pulling two specially-developed cabooses for scientific work, accommodation and storage, including fuel designed not to freeze.

The D6Ns have also been outfitted with custom cloud and satellite technologies that will enable real-time updates on the expedition’s progress.

Downloadable Images

out in the cold
A D6N out on the ice