Two explorers have announced their intentions of completing the Antarctic expedition that famed British explorer Robert Falcon Scott never could. Veteran adventurers Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere say they will attempt to follow in Scott’s footsteps on an 1800-mile (2896 km) round trip journey to the South Pole that will follow the same route that the Terra Nova expedition took in 1911-1912. That is the same expedition that resulted in Scott and his men arriving at the South Pole three weeks behind their Norwegian rivals led by Roald Amundsen, before they all perished on the return trip to the coast.
Ben and Tarka intend to set off from the same cabin that Scott used when he launched his expedition more than a century a go. They’ll get underway in October of this year with the hopes of completing the epic journey in approximately 110 days. They’ll make the trip without resupply as well, which would make this the longest unsupported polar journey in history.
Scott, who remains a legendary figure in British exploration more than 100 years after his death, famously raced Amundsen to the South Pole to claim the honor of being first to reach that point. Using knowledge from his years spent in the Arctic, Amundsen and his men were able to move faster than the Scott party and as a result were able to plant the flag of Norway at 90ºS several weeks before the arrival of the Brits. Dejected and defeated Scott and his men set out on their return journey with heavy hearts. That journey proved fatal to all of the remaining men, with Scott himself, along with Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers, perishing in a tent after getting caught in a blizzard that raged for days. Sadly, they were just 11 miles away from “One Ton Depot,” a supply cache that would have given them food and fuel that would have allowed them to survive.
Saunders and L’Herpiniere won’t be facing such dire consequences when they launch their expedition later this year. Still, it will take a herculean effort on their part to complete this journey. We haven’t seen a lot of success on these round-trip expeditions to the South Pole and they will be taking a route that is far from the tried and true Hercules Inlet starting point.
The 2013 Antarctic season is still months away, but I’m already starting to look forward to it.
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