Lonely Planet Writer

An English polar explorer is attempting to cross Antarctica all on his own

An English explorer is bidding to become the first person to ever cross Antarctica all alone and with absolutely no support. Ben Saunders, who has already skied solo to the North Pole and spent 108 days completing Captain Scott’s return journey to the South Pole, began his voyage earlier this month.

British explorer attempts unssupported Antarctic crossing
Explorer Ben Saunders is attempting solo Antarctica crossing. Image courtesy of Ben Saunders

His fiancée Pip Harrison told Lonely Planet: “One of the greatest challenges of this expedition is coping mentally with being alone in Antarctica for two months. “He won’t see anything living until he reaches the South Pole – which could take up to six weeks. “This is also a huge physical challenge – he has over 1,000 miles to cover, dragging 130 kilos – and in the coldest, windiest, driest, highest altitude place on earth.”

Unexpected challenges also crop up by the day and just this week he came across an unexpected crevasse field during a blizzard. “He has to keep his cool and navigate safely across this largely uncharted land,” said Pip.

British polar adventurer attempts solo Antarctic crossing
Explorer attempts first ever unsupported Antarctica crossing. Image courtesy of Ben Saunders

Ben was inspired to become an explorer when, aged 18, he went to work for legendary yachtsman John Ridgway on the west coast of Scotland. Ridgway and Chay Blyth had been the first people to successfully row across the Atlantic and their feats helped inspired his passion for exploration.

The famous book, The Worst Journey in the World about the ill-fated expedition by Scott to the Antarctica is his favourite read, while tales of other famous explorers like Ernest Shackleton and Fridtjof Nansen also stirred his love of adventure.

Explorer attempts first unsupported Antarctic crossing
Ben Saunders is attempting to cross the Antarctica unsupported. Image courtesy of Ben Saunders

His west-to-east traverse across Antarctica will take him from Berkner Island to the Ross Ice Shelf via the South Pole. The same route was planned by Ben’s friend Lt Col Henry Worsley, who nearly completed the expedition before falling ill and passing away in hospital in Chile in January 2016.

Ben is also blogging daily from the expedition and you can keep up with him on his 1,000-mile voyage on his website.