Extreme explorers Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere are re-tracing the 101-year-old, unfinished, route of Captain Scott completely "without support" – that is, beginning after they actually arrive at the abandoned hut on the Ross Ice Shelf. Before that, they have a lot of support and were required to book passage with a commercial Antarctic travel firm in order to get there.
You didn't know there were commercial travel flights in and out of the Antarctic Continent? Well there are, and the company builds a temporary "air terminal" on the Union Glacier where a Russian built Ilyushin Il-76 jet cargo aircraft routinely lands with cargo and "explorers."
At the Union Glacier "air terminal" passengers transfer to Twin Otter and Basler BT-67 ski planes on their way to ultimate destinations such as: The South Pole, Vinson Massif, Hercules Inlet and others just as cold and just as white.
The Scott Expedition 2013The "Portal" to this cold weather adventure is from Punta Arenas, Chile where Ben and Tarka were last week awaiting a "weather window" onto the frozen continent now bathed in it's summer sun – well, as much as Antarctica can be.
Approximately 1600 flight miles later, the two landed on a "blue-ice" runway at the glacier to spend as much time as it takes in "double occupancy," un-heated sleeping tents to find another "weather window" which will allow them to continue on to the Ross Ice Shelf and the abandoned Scott Hut which will mark the OFFICIAL beginning of their trip.
Offroading Home is supporting their expedition with a newly created Google Earth map, Scott Expedition: Antarctica, containing not only the two's current location but several map overlays of geographic points of interest which will enable us "armchair explorers" to find some sort of dimension on the otherwise bleak and uniformly white map.
Map OverlaysWe Are Here: Most important is the "we are here" waypoint which will change as we become aware of an update in their current GPS waypoint.
Scott Expedition Trail: Secondly, the above waypoints will be converted into a new trail to follow Ben and Tarka's current expedition.
Captain Scott's Trail: The "best guess" at the early explorers route (from meticulous study of the historic journals) is marked with a trail line.
Google Earth's Buildings: Graphic representations of buildings have been constructed and donated by users of Google Earth. They are included as waypoints in this file, and include all of Scott's and Shackleton's huts.
Worsley Explanation: A prior explorer on the continent has written a detailed description of Scott's route and we have GEOcoded all the waypoints he mentioned along with links to his written descriptions.
Antarctic Stations and Bases: Nobody is alone on the continent anymore. There are many, many research stations and actual year-round habitats on the continent which are included as waypoints and landmarks on this overlay.
Antarctic Mountain Peaks: Waypoints from all over the internet and government files were compiled into this GE overlay and include all known Antarctic peaks over 1500 meters high.
Antarctic Glaciers and Ice Flows: Again, waypoints from all over the internet and government files were compiled into an overlay of all named glaciers and ice flows on the continent.
MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica: The government has a link to MODIS images which can be overlaid on Google Earth. This link is provided here in this file as well.
1961-62 Antarctica: I found an extensive compilation of landmarks and site description from a research expedition undertaken in 1961 and have compiled all those in a GE overlay as well.
Shackleton crossing Antarctica: And, to complete the map, I've also included all know waypoints from journals and diaries of Earnest Shackleton's expedition across the Antarctic continent.
Both the Antarctic Mountain Peaks and Antarctic Glaciers are also available as stand-alone files: Antarctic Mountains; and Antarctic Glaciers.