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greenland arctic expedition

The Scott Expedition

Ben Saunders, Tarka L’Herpiniere and their crack back-up team fly from the UK this week to begin the Scott Expedition in Antarctica.

They are setting out to

“honour Scott’s legacy by becoming the first to retrace and complete Scott’s original, perilous Terra Nova expedition.

The Scott Expedition is a 1,800-mile, four-month unsupported return journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole on foot following Scott’s exact route. Equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons, the team will face temperatures as low as -50 °C and will haul sledge loads of up to 200kg each.”

I watch them leave with very mixed feelings.

For the past five years of training, planning and fund-raising I was part of the team. Antarctica has been the focus of all my ambitions and dreams. I put so much on pause for the sake of the South Pole. So I was incredibly sad to have to withdraw from the expedition in January for unrelated family reasons. It’s going to bug me for years.

But I am also thrilled that the expedition is going ahead at long last. It proves that all those years of hard work and ambitious dreaming were not mere windmill-tilting madness. Getting to the start line of an expedition requires phenomenal degrees of perseverance, optimism, team work and a hearty dollop of hubris and self-deprecation. Now all that awaits for Ben and Tarka (who replaced me – and I’m delighted to have been replaced by a taller, tougher, more handsome, cooler-named version of me) is a mere 110 days of agony, misery, loneliness, boredom, doubt, wonder, freedom and joy.

I wish all the team the very best of luck – we have become very good friends over the last five years. I’m so sad not to be flying to Antarctica today. I’ll have to settle for the next best thing, like all the rest of us: sitting at home, in my pants, drinking tea and following them via their blog, Twitter and YouTube.

Below are a few photos and videos from my side of the long slog towards today.

Good luck, boys!

Psychological Profiling for a South Pole expedition:

Getting to know Ben:
Training in the Brecon Beacons

Training in the Brecon Beacons*

Ben getting to know me:
The SOUTH Office

A rare smart moment:
Ben and me at 10 Downing Street

Preparing for the expedition took us through two Olympic Games:
Good Things Come To Those Who...

Cold weather training:

Training in Greenland with Ben and Martin- one of the most enjoyable trips of my life:
Greenland Expedition

Training… in the Lake District:

…Down South:

…and Up North:

“Treat it like it’s all that we have, and then remember: it’s only rock and roll.”

Greenland Expedition

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  1. Wow. Congratulations to them but all that effort of yours… through two Olympics!

    For what it’s worth, your work on Microadventures is a much better contribution to society.

  2. What a great post. I’m genuinely sorry you are missing out on the trip after so much personal investment.

    As I said when we bumped into each other at Stanfords (perhaps a bit flippantly) I am sure you will get over it. Firstly because you’re a positive guy and that’s what positive people do. Secondly because fate (for those of us that believe in it) has a habit of putting other things in your path that lend some perspective.

    Very much looking forward to the Empty Quarter film. Especially as it’s something less than 200km away from me right now!

    Good luck with the next adventure, be it micro or macro.



  3. Thank you for linking to this post from your comment on Tony Haile’s site. As I wrote on his site, thank you for your substantial contribution to the ultimate launch of The Scott Expedition. For those of us who have only gotten to know Ben and Tarka these last few months of their expedition, you provide insight and details into what brought the team together. Thank you for training and dreaming with Ben and Tarka to keep the goal alive. You have quite a stake in the feats they’ve achieved out on the ice. Thank you.



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