Meet Second Lieutenant Scott Sears. Scott is going solo, unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole this November, effectively making him the youngest man to ever reach it unsupported if he succeeds.
Scott Sears, a 26-year-old British military service member and cold-expedition adventurer, heads off alone to Antarctica on November 15, 2017. His mission? To attempt a solo crossing starting at the Hercules Inlet and ending 1100-kilometers (683.51 M) away at the South Pole. Scott plans to do this completely unassisted by any relief team and unsupported.
If you’re shocked by his plans, then you should have been there when his mother found out. In passing, speaking to a potential sponsor, Scott’s mom happened upon their conversation, learning for the first time that her son was attempting a treacherous expedition. Now, however, the family is supportive of Sears’ mission, given the initial shock was brought on by his own communication breakdown. In retrospect, Scott now recommends that all who plan to “undertake an expedition – keep your family in the loop! Explain the risks and give them the confidence you have planned against them.”
And plan he has. Sears has spent the last months of his life rigorously training for his Antarctic expedition with a specialized workout plan and expedition practices alone in Norway. Usually, Scott can be found pulling, lifting and turning over large tires, training in the gym and running for endurance training.
Meet Second Lieutenant Scott Sears
With each day that passes, Scott doesn’t lose one of his most endearing qualities. At 6’5″ Scott Sears towers over the average person; he carries striking blue eyes and a build, that to most, is the standard of fitness. However, what makes Scott most memorable is his sense of humor, which is witty and playful. He describes what he finds to be the most concerning part of his expedition, and it’s not the trek.
“At 6-ft. 5-inches tall, I’ll be perfectly honest and say the part that concerns me most about this journey isn’t the crevasse fields that welcome you immediately after you depart Hercules Inlet, or the relentless winds of the upper Antarctic plateau, but actually how my legs are going to survive when the person in front of me inevitably puts their seat back for the duration of the 20-hour journey from London to Punta Arenas.”
Scott was born and spent his young life on the South coast of England. Since childhood, he could be seen climbing trees and attempting grandiose victories with homemade go-karts that usually ended in broken arms and dreams to be revived another day. The son of two professional athletes, his father was a full-time tennis player and his mother left her mark on the world waterskiing for South Africa. As early as age 11, Scott found himself following in his father’s footsteps, which ultimately led him to his current path after a brush with reality.
Scott began his journey of self-discovery wanting to be something he was unfortunately really bad at, playing tennis like his old man and leaving the international circuit after five years and the realization that he should stop trying to make tennis happen because it just wasn’t happening. But, although he ended his professional tennis career, Sears went on to study at Boise State University in Idaho on a tennis scholarship.
It was here, in Idaho, that Scott fashioned himself a new dream – this time, he was determined to be a country music star. However, that too was short lived as Scott soon found out he could neither sing nor play the guitar. But, he was in the right place at the right time, discovering for the first time the beauty of the Pacific Northwest of the US, and it didn’t take long before he was in the thick of it, mountaineering with the American Alpine Institute where he finally realized what he was best at.
“Thankfully just a few years later, I realized I was a lot better at being cold, wet and carrying heavy bags than playing tennis – this turned out to be a skill set the British Army was looking for.”
After a tenacious stint inquiring with the recruiting office and 11 rejection letters from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Scott was finally admitted and commissioned into the Royal Gurkha Rifles in December 2015. Scott says:
Serving with the Gurkhas has been one of the most special experiences of my life. They are some of the finest soldiers in the world but also some of the most likable. I was fortunate enough to be posted to 1 RGR based in the not so Polar regions of Brunei.
Journey to the South Pole
Sears’ mission is an ambitious one, once in Punta Arenas, he will be “on-ice,” pun intended, waiting for a weather window to appear and be in existence long enough for him to board an Ilyushin IL-76 transport plane, on which he will make his way to Union Glacier. At arrival, the wait begins again until he can board a twin otter plane (which in comparison to the first is ant-sized) in what will be his last trip before reaching the starting point of his expedition, the Hercules Inlet.
Here, the Antarctic sea ice meets the iconic Antarctic land mass. Sears will be confronted by the desolate sky above him, the frozen ground beneath his feet and begin his 1100-kilometer trek to the South Pole, leaving behind civilization and any options of help with each step forward. These first days of his journey will be trying and the most dangerous. Just beyond the inlet, the terrain is starved of the sense of safety, the ground riddled with crevasses, which mountaineers know to be very deceiving. These craters in the ice can often be disguised by a thin layer of snow that is only stable enough to hold up its own weight across the opening of a crevasse; stepping on one will send you tumbling violently toward the bottom. The possibilities of the survival of a fall into a crevasse are minor with the known truth of what can happen once inside – you die, or you live, badly injured with no way out. Without the presence of a partner, Scott cannot rely on someone roped to him to stop his fall or rope him out.
While these dangers cannot be avoided, they can be planned against. The skis Scott will be traveling with will spread his weight across the ice, helping to condense his sheer size and weight over one area of ice. This plan, in theory, should help protect him against falling through a layer of ice covering a crevasse.
Other dangers he faces include the unpredictable weather of the Antarctic continent. White-outs have been known to last weeks on end and devastate entire teams with death, frostbite and starvation. Under these conditions, detecting crevasses becomes a nightmare and virtually impossible. Sears’ method of navigation? A compass mounted to his chest and a heart full of determination and hope.
If and when Scott makes it past the fields of crevasses, his next step is to focus on pacing his progress. He plans to ski in blocks of two hours at a time and keeping this pace up for 10-hours each day. Ideally, if the right conditions and terrain and weather are present, the goal is to travel up to 25-miles each day at this pace. But because this is Antarctica, these perfect conditions aren’t likely the whole way. Previous conditions on the continent and its 200-mph winds have already shaped the landscape against expedition hopefuls. These winds have left their mark on the terrain in the form of rigid sastrugi that are expected to slow sears down by a few miles each day. He’ll also have to traverse the terrain carrying his food, shelter and gear behind him on a sled.
There is a long road ahead of the adventurer we’ve grown very fond of because of his tenacious drive and eternal quest for self-discovery, mostly because of his loyalty and transparent appreciation for the Gurkha heritage and its sacrifice for the British Crown and Country. On his journey, Scott will gain 3,000-meters (9,843 ft.) in elevation on his 1,100-km. trek, which in laymen’s terms is just about 100 Eiffel Towers in height. This journey should take between 30 and 60-days, however, Scott’s plan is to aim toward just 45-days. If he succeeds, Second Lieutenant Scott Sears will have been the youngest man in history to reach the South Pole.
Meals on the Ice
Throughout his preparation for this expedition, Scott has reached out to experienced explorers for advice and guidance. Legendary polar guide Eric Philips has been one such source and accompanied him on his initial training trips, giving him some of the experience he needs to navigate and endure the road ahead. Also, an essential part of planning is meal prep.
Sears has been working with a UK-based company called Base Camp Food, whom we’ve heard of before; they currently sell one of our favorite outdoor foods, Firepot, and are an emerging force in outdoor food distribution. They’ve been instrumental in helping Sears organize the perfect meal plan. Together, they started testing out different food options over 19-months ago. As with most expeditions, Scott is expected to burn an accelerated amount of calories, more than the average body can reproduce or process productively. So, one of the main factors to consider on the ice is minimizing weight loss. For this, Scott’s diet will consist of a whopping 6,500 calories per day to help him produce the energy and reserves needed to recover from each trek every night.
His meal plan includes hot porridge in the morning along with a high-calorie drink. Throughout the day, Scott will be carrying snack bags containing nuts that are packed with high ratios of fat; these bags will also include chocolate, salami and other dried meats and fruits. For dinner, he will be dining on freeze-dried meals accompanied by a desert, which, might we add, Scott has a tendency to eat for breakfast with, as he calls it, “no regrets.” No shame, Scott, we all indulge in some breakfast desert at some time!
Sending off Scott Sears to Antarctica
At Base Camp Magazine, we are sending Scott off with an ocean of wishes for success and safe travels that we hope resonate through the seas to his daily location. We are sure the world will see a lot more of Scott Sears, as he has the potential to be one of the world’s greatest adventurers as he gets older and gains more experience. Some members of our team have left him the following messages:
Travel on and travel strong. -Rob, SM Manager.
Come home to your mum! -Catherine Wexcomb, Staff Writer
Pack some dryer lint, it makes for excellent kindling in an emergency and it’s light and compact to carry. -Coop Banfield, Dispatch Manager
Some people winter in the Caribbean; you’re wintering in the summer of Antarctica. If bold had a name man, it’d be you. -Dave Messer, Communications Manager
Scott, I want to see you make it to the Pole and return home in one piece. I know you have it in you. Show the world what Brits are made of! -Cass Leger, Editor-in-Chief
About Scott Sears
Scott Sears is a mini cooper-driving, 26-year-old South Pole hopeful and a service member of the British Armed Forces. He has been stationed with the Royal Gurkha Rifles, and his current expedition to the South Pole is partly in their honor; he’s raised over £25,000 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
Antarctic Gurkha Expedition Sponsors
The Juice Plus Company, Co-presenter of the Antarctic Gurkha Expedition
Shackleton, Co-presenter of the Antarctic Gurkha Expedition
Baffin, Official Boot Provider
Base Camp Food, Food Supplier
Scenes of Reason, Antarctic Gurkha Video Producers
Follow the Expedition
To follow along with the expedition, you can visit Scott’s blog which he will update live from the ice. He will also be updating his Instagram, and Base Camp Magazine will be compiling some of these to bring you some Dispatches from Scoot Sears Antarctic Gurkha 2017 Expedition.
Article written jointly by Catherine Wexcomb “Meet Scott Sears” and Cass Leger “Journey to the South Pole.”
©Base Camp Magazine