A HAMPSHIRE scout was expecting to reach the South Pole today after more than a month of battling freezing temperatures and extreme conditions.

Joe Doherty, a former Sparsholt College student, has been skiing across Antarctica for more than 40 days, including Christmas and New Year, while facing temperatures as low as -50C across one of the toughest environments on Earth.

He, and a team working to support him behind the scenes, are aiming to become the first Scout team to ski unassisted from the coast to the South Pole and back.

In a blog post on Saturday, Joe said: “I’m trying to look for the South Pole on the horizon but I won’t see it till it’s about 15km away.

“We are aiming to get to the Pole for midday on Monday. The snow has been super difficult to get high mileage done, we are don’t want to ski into Pole super late on Sunday.

“I’d much rather cherish that moment with some energy in my body and not be completely exhausted! And today we managed another 24.0km.”

As previously reported, preparations for the challenge have been ongoing for several years, with various fundraising challenges and training expeditions taking place.

Originally, a larger group had been due to take it on as part of the Hampshire Scout Expeditions (HSX) Antarctica team, but for various reasons, the other members dropped out.

Throughout the expedition, Joe has been posting daily updates online about his time on the snow, aided by fellow HSX member Matthew Prince back in the UK.

Matthew, an activities manager at Marwell Activity Centre near Winchester, had been planning to go on the expedition, but was grounded a broken leg sustained during a training trip to Austria.

Speaking about the expedition at a previous fundraising event, he said: “HSX has been to every continent but Antarctica, and we just wanted to go. It’s a great way to inspire young people.

“The biggest challenge will be the financial one – it’s costing £65,000 per person to fund the trip. We can do all the training, but without the money, we won’t be going anywhere.”

Matthew added: “To have a accident was a bitter pill to swallow. I spent a week in hospital in Austria. I thought just a couple of weeks and I’d be fine but it took me a while to get my head around it.”