(By Correne Coetzer, updated Oct 6, 04:13 pm) The two British adventurers, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere, are leaving the UK today for Punta Arenas in Chile for the start of their South Pole return journey.
They plan to retrace Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated 1911-12 journey from Scott’s hut on the north shore of Cape Evans on Ross Island to the Geographic South Pole and back. Ben and Tarka will traverse the Ross Ice Shelf and get onto the continent near the bottom of the Beardmore Glacier where they will start their uphill sledge-haul on the glacier to the Antarctic Plateau at about 2440m / 8000ft and then push to the Pole at 9300ft.
The men plan to walk on average 9.5 hours per day, with 1.5 hour marches and are expecting to take 110 days to complete their Scott Expedition. They will start off with sleds weighing 200 kg. According to them, they will cover 900 miles (1,450km) from their start point to the South Pole.
This will be the third attempt to retrace Scott’s return journey [Ed note Oct 6, 04:13 pm correction: not the first attempt as previously stated]. If successful it will be the longest ski expedition without kites on Antarctica.
Ben and Tarka will fly from Punta Arenas to ANI’s base camp, Union Glacier (79° 45'S, 083° 14'W), on Antarctic from where they will be flown to their start point at Cape Evans.
Saunders has extensive experience with North Pole expeditions and L’Herpiniere has done an expedition on the Southern Patagonia Ice Cap.
Scott and his team mates, Evans, Oats, Bowers and Wilson reached the South Pole on January 17, 1911 and all died on their return.
In the 1985-86 season Gareth Woods, Roger Mear and Robert Swan did the route from Cape Evans to the South Pole in 69 days.
In the 2011-12 Centenary Year the route from Cape Evans was done by Mark Langridge, Kevin Johnson and Paul Vicary, who has covered 1375 km in 75 days.
Also in the 2011-12 season, Norwegian solo skier, Alexander Gamme, and Australian duo, Justin Jones and James Castrission, did a return journey from the coastal start point at Hercules Inlet to the Pole, 2260 km in a straight line. These two expeditions are the only return journey’s to date from a coastal start point and were done unassisted and unsupported.
In the 2011-12 season Eric McNair-Landry and Sebastian Copeland did a ski and kite-ski expedition from Novolazarevskaya Base to the Pole of Inaccessibility to the Geographic South Pole to Hercules Inlet, a distance of 3620 km (in straight line).
The same season Dixie Dansercoer and Sam Deltour did a circular kite-ski expedition of 5130 km.
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