Profile: Ben Saunders, explorer set for 1,800-mile trek across Antarctic


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The Independent Online

He looks tough.

He sure is. The 36-year-old explorer is about to set off on an 1,800-mile journey across the Antarctic. The polar explorer hopes to recreate Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition of 1912. Scott and his men made it to the South Pole, only to find they had been beaten by a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen, who got there five weeks earlier. They froze to death on the way back, 11 miles from the Pole.

So he won’t be wanting to completely recreate Scott’s journey…

The journey will take 110 days to complete and is the length of 69 marathons. Mr Saunders and his companion, Tarka L’Herpenière, will have to walk for more than nine hours a day. Their trek will be the longest unsupported polar mission ever.

Crikey. How will they manage that?

The pair will each pull a sledge weighing 200kg across the continent. They will have no support except a satellite phone. The explorers will also have to stop every 90 minutes to refuel.

Presumably, they’ll have to remember their hats and gloves?

Yes, and a scarf: the explorers will face temperatures of -50C and biting wind chill.

Has he always been this daring?

Ben made his first Arctic trip when he was just 23. He was the youngest person to reach the North Pole alone. He’s also a record-breaking, long-distance skier and has completed five different North Pole expeditions. He holds the record for the longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton. So he’s definitely not afraid of being alone in the cold.

Can anyone join him for the ride?

Probably not. Ben is a highly trained athlete, who has worked for years building up to this mission. But, happily, he is well-known for live-blogging his travels and plans to tweet the whole journey, as well as post live blogs and videos.