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Polar duplicates

SIMON DAGLISH and friend James Daly scored some creative Halloween costumes this year — replicas of the gear worn by Capt. Robert Scott on his ill-fated 1911 South Pole expedition, down to the beaver-skin mitts and reindeer boots. Except the outfits weren't for trick-or-treating. They're for staying alive in Antarctica, the very place that overwhelmed that gear when Scott and company wore it. Scott and four members of his team perished on their attempt to be the first to the South Pole, largely due to incapacitating frostbite.

"Frostbite will be an issue," Daglish says. "And the kit does offer an element of risk. However, every evening we will check ourselves thoroughly and each other's faces to make sure that frostbite doesn't occur. The majority of the bad frostbite occurred for Scott's team on the return journey from the Pole…. We are being airlifted out when we get there."

Daglish, Daly and three other middle-aged professionals, whose experience in polar climes is limited to outings at a local ice sculpting company, will set off in December on the Numis Polar Challenge Expedition. Their plan is to trek in Scott's footsteps 170 miles to the pole. They plan to pull sledges identical to the ones Scott pulled, on identical wooden skis, even eat identical food — including biscuits loaded with fat. Presumably, no modern remedies for gut relief will be on hand.

The idea was hatched over a fair amount of vino, but Scott fan Daglish, a sales and marketing executive for a British radio firm, had a method to his lunacy. The expedition is designed to raise 1 million British pounds for research on premature birth. Daglish's son, born prematurely, suffers from cerebral palsy.

Most of the vintage gear and clothing had to be created from scratch, cutting into coffers. Nevertheless, the team has raised about a quarter of its targeted funds and is busy training.

Looking like apparitions from an old newsreel, the guys have been dragging car tires behind them in London parks to simulate sledge travel.

Scott made it to the South Pole, only to find that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had beaten him to it. Amundsen had picked a route 60 miles closer to the Pole than Scott, whose team fell victim to storms and cold on the long way back.

Daglish has said he believes Scott was unlucky. Taking Scott's longer route, the polar team may want to leave room for one other piece of animal hide: a rabbit's foot.

— Joe Robinson

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