About PECS

The Polar Expeditions Classification Scheme (PECS) is a grading and labelling system for extended, unmotorised polar and polar-style expeditions, crossings, circumnavigations or loops, collectively referred to as Journeys

Where does PECS apply?

PECS focuses principally on extended journeys in Antarctica, Greenland and on the Arctic Ocean, primarily, but not exclusively, on objectives such as North Pole, South Pole and crossings of Greenland. Journeys classified by PECS are conducted on land ice and adjoining ice-free areas, sea ice and adjoining sea, or frozen lake and adjoining fresh water.

Polar-style journeys in non-polar areas (Patagonia, Lake Baikal etc) may also use PECS for labelling and classification.

Who should use PECS?

A polar journey is not obliged to use the PECS system, however once it advertises, promotes or otherwise engages with the public and/or media it is recommended to use PECS definitions and guidelines.

Polar journeys do not require approval to use the PECS system. PECS is available for anybody to use so long as terminology and guidelines are adhered to.

PECS recommends usage by any unmotorised polar or polar-style journey that:

  • engages with the public
  • uses language that compares their journey with others
  • claims any achievement or record

Best Practice

Some facets of polar travel such as use of communications and frequency of engagement with audiences are too complex or nuanced to categorise. Best practice can be determined by following both PECS guidelines (which have a direct bearing on how a journey is labelled) and accompanying Code of Integrity conditions (which offer best practice principles but do not impact on how a journey is labelled).

Some may choose to apply more stringent restrictions to their journey. Such limitations are respected by PECS however all journeys are classified equally under PECS guidelines.

+ Code of Integrity


PECS does not automatically reclassify journeys retroactively however any journeys conducted prior to June 2020 may choose to reclassify using PECS guidelines.

PECS supersedes Adventure Rules (Polar).

PECS Committee

PECS is administered by a committee of polar adventure specialists each with more than 20 years of practical and consultative expertise. The Committee manages PECS guidelines and researches and assesses claims and submissions.

PECS Committee members include:

Eric Philips (Australia), Christoph Høbenreich (Austria), Michael Charavin (France), Steve Jones (UK) and Hannah McKeand (USA).

© PECS 2021. All rights reserved.