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 Now all that awaits for Ben and Tarka (who replaced me – and I’m delighted to have been replaced by a taller, tougher, more handsome, cooler-named version of me) is a mere 110 days of agony, misery, loneliness, boredom, doubt, wonder, freedom and joy.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!