Ben Saunders setting out across the Ross Ice Shelf on his 1800 mile journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back, retracing Captain Scott's Terra Nova route.
By the time you read this it'll be January 17th, which is the date Captain Scott, along with his companions Bowers, Oates, Wilson and Evans reached the South Pole. Scott famously described it as: "An awful place," and their journey over the plateau as "awful monotony," and while Tarka and I have had a pretty unique glimpse into the sort of deprivation, exhaustion and suffering they must have battled, we're also awestruck at their tenacity and spirit in the face of such profound isolation and risk; neither of which we have come anywhere near experiencing, with our daily satellite phone calls, emails, live satellite tracking and messages from loved ones, friends and supporters including our partners, Land Rover and Intel.
Captain Scott and his men's incredible display of fortitude in battling the harshest elements on earth to reach the South Pole before embarking on their ill-fated return is a story that has inspired many, including myself, for generations. I've always known it's a journey that sits at the very limits of human endurance -- hence my fascination and ambition to retrace and celebrate it. But it's only now as I follow in their footsteps that I can appreciate quite how tough it must have been.
Speaking of suffering and deprivation, we're both hungrier than ever, which I wasn't expecting after the amount we re-fuelled following our resupply, but I suspect our bodies have so little fat or superfluous muscle they can turn into fuel that we're almost totally reliant on what we eat to keep us going now. Tarka commented today that dragging a sledge full of food around, and yet being hungry all day, is a pretty effective form of torture.
In other news Tarka snapped one of his crampons today, so we've stopped early to repair it. It was a real shock and an undeniable setback -- especially as the crampons were among the few bits of our gear that have seemed bombproof and performed flawlessly so far -- but the repair looks solid, and we should be able to put in another big day tomorrow.
As Tarka put it this evening (I've omitted several swear words to make his feelings suitable for a family audience):
This place never gives you an inch, it never cuts you any slack and it always has to have the upper hand. It's either a whiteout or a headwind, or it's freezing cold, or a bad surface, or there's some catastrophe like this. I've never known anywhere like it.
We have been overwhelmed with the incredible interest and support for us and our journey shown via our blog -- a huge boost and a luxury that would have been unthinkable to Scott. Please continue to follow, but for today, on the anniversary of Scott and his men becoming the first Britons to reach the South Pole, please also take a moment to remember these inspirational men that have trodden our path before. We feel immensely privileged and proud to be able to honour them, and hope you join us in doing so too.
Video: "The History of the Terra Nova Expedition"
For Ben's daily news, updates and images from Antarctica visit the Scott Expedition website.
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