Britons Sent Message After Reaching South Pole on Foot
LONDON (AP) _ Three Britons who trekked 883 miles to the South Pole have radioed the expedition’s London headquarters telling of their delight in retracing the steps of the ill-fated 1912 Scott Expedition, a spokesman said today.
″It was a magnificent experience,″ expedition spokesman Peter Christopherson quoted them as saying Monday in a message relayed from the U.S. base at McMurdo Sound on the Antarctic coast to their headquarters in London.
Robert Swan, 28, Roger Mear, 35, and Gareth Wood, 33, took two months to reach the South Pole Saturday, becoming the first persons to walk to the pole since 1912.
They were picked up from the pole by a U.S. Hercules aircraft Monday after their support ship Southern Quest was crushed by pack ice and sunk. The three had planned to be picked up by a light plane from the ship.
The private expedition recreated British explorer Capt. Robert Falcon Scott’s 1912 attempt to be the first man to reach the pole.
Scott’s expedition reached the South Pole on Jan. 18, 1912, only to find a Norwegian flag and tent left by Roald Amundsen of Norway, who became the first man to reach the pole a month earlier.
The Amundseorm while attempting to return to their base camp.
Christopherson said Swan, Mear and Wood sent their message after being reunited earlier Monday at the McMurdo Sound base with colleagues rescued from the Southern Quest.
″All went well, much better than expected. We are really pleased to be reunited with our support team,″ Mear said in the message.
U.S. authorities have agreed to fly all 29 expedition members to Christchurch, New Zealand, today on the first leg of their journey home. Christopherson said U.S. authorities would be paid for that flight.
″There will be no cost for the taxpayer of any country for bringing the expedition back,″ Christopherson said. He said the rescue of the Southern Quest crew had been an humanitarian act, recognized as such by U.S. authorities.
The private expedition has been criticized by some scientists in New Zealand and Britain, who said it should not have been attempted and strained the resources of official research personnel involved in the rescue.
But the British Foreign Office defended the expedition. A press officer, who in accordance with British practice declined to be identified, said: ″We believe it would be wrong to close off Antarctica to well-prepared, self- sufficient private expeditions, such as we believe this one has been.″