At the end of the year it will be 100 years since Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott and their teams have made their way to the South Pole. Two British teams under leadership of Henry Worsley and Mark Langridge will follow their routes from the Bay of Whales and Cape Evans.
Worsley and Langridge talked to ExWebs Correne Coetzer about what they have learned from the early explorers and what challenges they expect from their planned 70 day unassisted, unsupported expeditions.
ExplorersWeb: How will you get to your start point? With ALE?
Henry: Yes, ALE will fly us to the Bay of Whales and Cape Evans. Currently the Scott team will drop off first so that we can all visit the Terra Nova hut.
ExplorersWeb: Henry, what do you see as challenges on Amundsen's route?
Henry: The crevassed area of the Ross ice Shelf and obviously the steepness, deep snow and crevasses of the Axel Heiberg Glacier.
ExplorersWeb: Mark what do you see as the challenges on Scott's route?
Mark: Scott route challenges: has to be the Beardmore and crevasses, injuries on Blue Ice and limited sites for camping in between the snow patches.
ExplorersWeb: Why 4 people in one team and 3 in the other?
Mark: Mainly due to finance but also the Axel Heiberg route may require relaying of sledges so easier with 4.
Henry: [Ed: Henrys answer a week later] The teams are now 3 in each.
ExplorersWeb: How and why did you choose your teammates?
Mark: We are all military and work in the same field so a simple selection process got us to the final 7.
Henry: We are all from the British Army and we know each other. It made selection much easier and due to people dropping out we have no used up our reserves. But it is a very strong team.
ExplorersWeb: Why two British teams challenging each other and why not teamed up as a British team and asked a Norwegian team to race against you? Will it be a race for the two teams?
Mark: We asked the Norwegian army but after 3 months deliberation they declined to take part so we decided to use British guys instead.
Henry: Sadly the Norwegian Army turned down my offer of a race between the two Army's. It was disappointing but the head of the Norwegian Army said that it was too great a demand on their resources. But it will still be a race between our teams except I will be Amundsen for the journey.
ExplorersWeb: Mark, do you think Henry has an advantage as he has already skied across the Ross Ice Shelf; from that side to the South Pole?
Mark: No, I don't really think he has an advantage; in many respects the first 400 miles of the Ice Shelf is easier than the climb from Hercules Inlet - although the experience gained by him on the Beardmore will certainly help.
ExplorersWeb: Henry, do you think you have an advantage?
Henry: Not really. Although I crossed the Ross Ice Shelf and ascended the Beardmore Glacier in 08/09 following Shackleton's journey, the Axel Heiberg is still a formidable obstacle.
ExplorersWeb: You two surely have read the diaries of Amundsen and Scott. What have you learned from their diaries that you will do on these routes and that won't you do?
Mark: Apart from the quantities of food and better equipment, I would not like to change much at all. We will use Scott's route as a guide but ultimately want to trail blaze our own route up the Beardmore exactly as he and Shackleton before him did. Obviously no one will be "Going outside for some time"!!
[Ed note: On the morning of March 17,1912 , during a blizzard on the return trip from the South Pole, Lawrence Oates, one of Scotts team mates told Scott he was just going outside and may be some time. He was never seen again.]
Henry: I will approach the Axel Heiberg with great respect and not be in a hurry to find a route. If in doubt - rope up!
ExplorersWeb: How much food will you take?
Mark: Some of us are using an ascending pyramid of calories but on average we are looking at about 5800 for the whole journey per day.
Henry: Enough for 70 days. The Shackleton route took us 66 days and a bit in reserve is always useful!
ExplorersWeb: Will the two groups take the Amundsen and Scott diaries with and compare the daily progress?
Mark: We will take the diaries but are aiming not to know of each others progress (although this will be easier said than done!!)
Six members of the British Army will race two teams of three along the Amundsen and Scott routes to the South Pole along the original routes from the Bay of Whales and Scott's Cape Evans hut. It will be an unassisted, unsupported journey.
Team leaders are: Henry Worsley (Amundsen route) who led the successful Shackleton Centenary Expedition in 2008/09 which followed the original Nimrod route and Mark Langridge (Scott route) who completed a solo unassisted, unsupported journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 2008/09.
Team members: Al Taylor, Vic Vicary, Kev Johnson, Lennie Browne (Ed update note Jun 20, 2011 03:51 pm EDT: Lennie is no longer going with) and Lou Rudd.
Henry Worsley has written a book about the Shackleton Centenary Expedition, In Shackletons Footsteps: A Return to the Heart of the Antarctic. Exactly one hundred years after Shackleton, the team of three men decided to retrace the 820-mile route that Shackleton and his men had taken, and finish the journey to the Pole. Inspired by Shackletons spirit, courage and leadership, Worsley walks in his heros footsteps and comes to truly understand the limits of human endeavour. Describing in detail the stark contrasts between the two expeditions food and medical supplies, modes of travel and communication as well as the emotions and challenges that both teams share, In Shackletons Footsteps parallels the history of the original expedition with the grit and determination of Worsleys own journey.
The 2011-12 expedition is fully funded, says the team leaders, and they aim to raise ÂŁ500,000 for The Royal British Legion to assist with the long term welfare of wounded soldiers.
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