Five years ago, then twenty six year-old Ben Saunders was one of only three people to have ever skied solo to the North Pole. In doing so, he not only set the record for longest solo Arctic journey by a Briton, but he also managed to do so in the worst conditions in recorded history, according to NASA.
Next year, alongside Alastair Humphreys (who spent four years cycling across five continents and almost 75,000 kilometres) he will attempt the first ever return journey to the South Pole on foot. SOUTH will be the culmination of seven years of training and preparation; planned to stretch from the Antarctic coast, to the south pole and back again, it is set to be the longest unsupported polar trek in history.
On top of the remarkable human endurance element of SOUTH, Ben and Alastair will embrace the powers of social media and web 2.0 to document their ground-breaking trip, allowing the public to experience their expedition in real-time, and hopefully open a dialogue about climate change and environmental sustainability. It’s said that Vice-President Al Gore may join them at some point, and the entire program has been certified carbon neutral.
SOUTH is set to commence in October 2009, but the team’s progress can be tracked on their official blog. You can also catch Ben’s account of his North Pole journey at TED.com.