The British Scout who plans to ski Antarctica - to the South Pole… and back

Youth Programme
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by World Scouting from
Publication date: 18th Sep 2018

A BackStage Story by the Scout Donation Platform

Joe Doherty wants to become the first Scout in the world to ski to the South Pole and back.

The British Outward Bound instructor been training for six years to make sure he’s strong enough – physically and mentally – and now he’s trying to raise £20,000 on the Scout Donation Platform to raise enough money to make the last preparations of his journey.

In this month’s BackStage Story, he tells us more about why he decided to take on the challenge, his advice for anyone looking to overcome their own “South Pole” and how Scouting has helped him succeed in life.



Tell us a bit about yourself.

I currently work as Learning and Adventure manager at The Outward Bound Trust in the UK. As part of my work I deliver learning in the wild through true adventure in the UK’s national parks. I have been a Scout for 15 years now, since the age of ten. I am a County Technical assessor for hill walking and mountaineering. I also belong to a county group called Hampshire Scout Expeditions or HSX for short. I am a Scout network member within this group.


Why did you join the Scouts?

I joined Scouts not out of my own choice actually! I was very introverted as a kid and my parents wanted to help my confidence. Rather reluctantly I joined my local Scout group. Little did I know it would change my life forever! The Scout group I joined allowed me to be me, which was something I had not experienced anywhere else. Within months my confidence had grown so much I started doing things I never thought I could do. This was not just camping or going on expeditions, but also talking to people I didn’t know, going to meetings with other Scouts and even standing up in front of large groups of people and speaking.


Where did the idea of skiing 1900 kilometres to the South Pole and back over 70 days come from?

When I got into my early teens I heard of an opportunity to go to Peru for six weeks with a County Scout group. I jumped at the chance and after a selection weekend I joined HSX. It was a life-changing experience. I later led an expedition to Nepal for six weeks with 14 Scouts from HSX. Within the group our Scout leaders became the first Scouts in the world to summit Mt Everest in 2007 to commemorate 100 years of Scouting. After this inspiration myself and some friends thought, what about Antarctica! Scouts haven’t been to the pole and back! The rest is history.


How have you been preparing yourself for the challenge?

Your body will give up way before your mind, has always been at the heart of how I have prepared for this challenge. I have trained in Scotland during the winter, skied in the French, Swiss and Austrian alps and also taken training trips to Norway. But, I also needed to prepare my mind for this expedition. I have put myself into some tough situations by doing some very gruelling mini challenges such as running three marathons in three days, running a marathon while dragging a car tyre, soloing 200 rock routes in 24 hours and running Wales 14 highest peaks in 24 hours. These challenges take your brain to very dark places and if you can learn from these experiences you can take that to something bigger - like this challenge.


How has being a Scout prepared you for this challenge?

Being a Scout has made me work hard and not allow setbacks to crush my motivation. It’s given me the resilience to keep going with this challenge. It has also taught me to ask for support and be prepared to give back as much as possible to those who support me. But the biggest thing Scouting has given me is the belief that this is possible; no one has said it can’t be done or don’t even try. It has always been if you work hard enough it will happen. Without this I would have given up a long time ago.


What are the obstacles you are facing right now?

Trying to find the last of the £20,000 to complete the final part of the expedition. I have fundraised and had generous donations from Outward Bound to raise a total of £50,000. Without their support this would not even been possible!


What do you expect to be the biggest challenges during the expedition?

My body will take a battering, I need to put on 10 kg of extra weight to deal with the cold and the sheer work load of the expedition. I weigh 75kg now so that means 85kg before I go, however I will come back weighing 65kg! Apart from this it will be the brutality of the expedition, skiing in -40oc is not fun at all. Combine that with a 50mph wind and you have a recipe for frostbite and other cold injuries that I do not want on an expedition that is 80 days long.


What would it mean for you to finish this odyssey?

Everything. I have worked on this for more than six years and I want to show the world what Scouting and Outward Bound have done for me and so many people across the globe. I want to make everyone who has supported me proud.



Is there any adventurer or explorer who inspires you? Why?

The guys from HSX who made it to the summit of Mt Everest in 2007. They showed me that they were just ‘normal’ people and that anyone can achieve anything when they put their mind to it.


What advice would you give to anyone out here looking for their own “South Pole”

Do it. Don’t let anything hold you back. When it gets tough keep going, nothing you really want is easy. If you get stuck or feel like quitting, change something. That might mean trying a new approach, changing training tactics or talking to someone else to get more inspiration or a new take on the situation.


Can you send an invitation to the people out there to donate to your campaign?

Scouts across the world, let’s do something together to put Scouting on the map globally and showcase how we can work together to support one another. 

Support Joe and his journey, donate today!

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