11 Ways Polar Exploration Has Changed Since The 1900s

Same challenge, new challengers. In 1910, Robert Falcon Scott’s entire crew died on their return journey from the South Pole. Ben Saunders is currently attempting to finish Scott’s same mission.

1. Crew Size:

Popperfoto / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / facebook.com

Scott’s Terra Nova expedition team was made up of 65 volunteers.

Saunders will be making the five-month-long journey with only one other: his longtime hiking partner, Tarka L’Herpiniere.

2. Rations:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of Ben Saunders / Twitter: @polarben

Scott’s team was forced to eat their ponies on their return journey, due to a lack of food.

Every meal on Ben’s journey is carefully measured and rationed out, including a warm breakfast, dinner, and six midday snacks.

3. Navigation:

Universal Images Group Editorial / gettyimages.com / Via rei.com

Captain Scott and his crew navigated the Antarctic by way of maps, telescopes, and compasses.

Topographic GPS devices enable explorers to know where they are and what type of terrain is up ahead.

4. Tents:

Popperfoto / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / facebook.com

Long gone are the days of animal hides and twine. Saunders’ synthetic Hilleberg tent is able to withstand strong polar winds and -40° temperatures.

5. Boots:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via scarpa.com

Scott’s team depended on hand-sewn reindeer fur-lined boots called finnesko.

Modern high-altitude and polar exploration boots feature moldable thermal liners and can cost up to $1,000.

6. Camp Stoves:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / facebook.com

Scott’s team cooked their food over seal-blubber stoves.

Ben’s stove is an unmodified MSR XGK EX on a custom-made carbon fibre stove board.

7. Pulks:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of Ben Saunders / Twitter: @polarben

Every piece of equipment not worn on the body of a polar explorer is pulled behind them on a pulk, or sled. Pulks have become increasingly aerodynamic and lighter over the years.

8. Skis:

Time & Life Pictures / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / youtube.com

Saunders’ skis are equipped with friction skins to help grip onto icy surfaces.

9. Outerwear:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / facebook.com

The key principle of layering has not changed. What those layers consist of, however, has. Synthetics, and down, and polyester, oh my!

Ben’s team carefully removed all tags and nonessential materials from their outerwear and equipment to cut down on weight.

10. Documentation:

Hulton Archive / gettyimages.com / Via Gordon Tarpley / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr: gordontarpley

Photography and videography equipment has become incredibly sophisticated and extremely compact over the last 100 years.

11. Communication:

Popperfoto / gettyimages.com / Via Courtesy of The Scott Expedition / facebook.com

Captain Scott and his team kept extremely detailed notes and journals during their expedition.

Saunders will be staying in touch with the rest of his team by using a solar-powered laptop. Connectivity, however, is limited to a few minutes a day for vital check-ins.

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