Friday, September 13, 2013
Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere (extreme cold expeditioners both) are, along with their team, undertaking to "finish" Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated foot-treck to the South Pole during this Antarctic winter.
The two will retrace Scott's original 1911-12 route from Scott's Hut on the north shore of the Cape Evans Ice Shelf to the South Pole and return – on foot, pulling sleds.
They intend to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf then climb 8000ft up the Beardmore Glacier (one of the world's tallest) to the Antarctic Plateau where it hopefully will be a straight shot to the pole – barring any traveler-eating crevasses along the way.
Returning the same route, only in reverse, will make it a 900 mile (1,450km) round trip pulling 440 pound (200kg) sledges, through -58 degree farenheit (-50 degree C) weather, for… well, who knows how long, they haven't said – probably a month or two, or more.
They expedition they take won't be any less distance than what Scott took; but, the scenery won't be quite the same. For example all across the Ross Ice Shelf there will be airplanes and snow-mobiles and radio towers and science huts – all the explorational and scientific results of Scott's and other's first efforts.
Once up on the plateau however the signs of man will spread out, although there is the extensive South Pole Station - an extensive research station populated the year round.
If you, as do I, want to follow along with Ben and Tarka on their journey, they will be packing at least some 21st century technology. Hopefully, they will be sending GPS coordinates back for geo-location purposes, and their team has indicated that at least Ben will be blogging! How much remains to be seen but he did a pretty good (albeit a bit cryptic for my tastes) job during his Iceland shake-down trip.
I've already spent many, many hours trying to locate the features that he has mentioned in his blog on Google Earth. It's not helped by Google's lack of labels at the higher levels mandated by the lack of geologic features. So, I've created a Google Earth map that I'll be updating with locations and waypoints which become necessary along the way.
You can obtain it free here: Scott Expedition: Antarctica. It should download and open in Google Earth automatically. You'll need to explore the various folders and click on waypoints to familiarize yourself with the Antarctic waypoints and various other items that I've found which give background and situational awareness.
Their official blog is presenting a six-part narrative by a previous explorer to the area, Henry Worsley, who is mentioning landmarks in his articles. I've been able to find all that he's mention and put them in the folder labeled "Worsley Explanation." Click it's box to turn it on and off.
There is also a network link to the government's MODIS satellite mosaic of images that will overlay Google Earth; as well as a folder with the locations of all the current research stations and bases on the continent. And, for good measure, a folder of the Shackelton Crossing of Antarctica.
Those of you following the trail posts for the Colorado Backroads, they are not yet completed but will be. It's no small task.
I've received a fairly extensive bundle of New Mexico scenic road tracks that I'm trying to figure out what to do with and how to present them.
And, of course, we'll be following the Scott Expedition as well.