Amateur explorers recreate Scott's epic trek to South Pole

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The Independent Online

"This is an awful place and terrible enough for us to have laboured to it without the reward of priority." So wrote Captain Robert Scott 94 years ago today after finding his doomed expedition had been beaten to the South Pole.

Yesterday, his sentiments were at least partly shared by five other Britons after they recreated part of Scott's journey across Antarctica with replicas of the equipment he used.

The team, consisting of four former Army officers and a polar guide, completed their 170-mile trek last weekend - with heavy wooden sledges carrying their reindeer-skin sleeping bags, canvas tent and birch and hickory-wood skis. Speaking from the South Pole, Simon Daglish, 40, a member of the expedition, said: "We've had a great adventure but are united in giving the old lady of Antarctica a lot of respect."

The team admitted even their 170-mile trek - barely a tenth of the 1,600-mile round trip that Scott and his party attempted - had been extremely hard work in temperatures of minus 35C. Mr Daglish said the severe winds the team had faced were like "a sandstorm in a desert". But the rigours of the Antarctic, which eventually claimed the lives of Scott and his comrades after they were beaten to the pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen in 1912, have not been totally without reward for their imitators.

The team - Mr Daglish; Ed Farquhar, 39; James Daly, 41; Roger Weatherby, 43, and the polar expert, Geoff Somers - has so far raised more than £600,000 for charity, a figure which it is hoped will reach £1m.

The 17-day journey was completed as far as possible using similar equipment employed by Scott, right down to the flax, cat gut and leather bindings used to lash together the sledges.

They also used sealskin galoshes, Merino-wool balaclavas and underwear and aviator-style goggles.

Mr Daglish said: "Manhauling the sledge is extremely hard work. Scott said in his diary that it was fearfully hard work and I have to agree with him.

"The snow on the plateau is more like sand and our sled grinds slowly over it. Modern equipment would be half the weight and would travel much more easily."

The team's dedication to recreating Scott's journey did not extend to placing themselves in danger. Stowed among their cast-iron tent poles was a GPS beacon and a satellite phone.

The project, which took two years to organise, attracted lukewarm praise from seasoned polar explorers. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the first man to reach both poles, described the trek as "a pleasant little journey".

The latest conquerors of the South Pole will be picked up by plane - a luxury, of course, not available to their 1912 predecessors.