Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 12:56 UK

Final pole explorer to join trek

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his compas
The explorer failed in his bid to reach the South Pole in 1908-09

A policy researcher has beaten nearly 3,000 applicants to join a bid to complete Sir Ernest Shackleton's failed South Pole trek.

Andrew Ledger, 23, from Dronfield, Derbyshire, was chosen to join five descendants of the pioneering explorer and his crew for the journey.

Three of the team will set off on 29 October on the same 900-mile, 80-day route as the 1908-09 Nimrod expedition.

Mr Ledger and the others will join them 97 miles (156km) from the South Pole.

Shackleton was forced to turn back on 9 January 1909 in the face of howling icy blizzards and dwindling rations.

Mr Ledger applied for the place after finding an article about the expedition when he made an internet search for "dangerous jobs".

He insisted his application though was "a quest for something interesting, as opposed to a cry for help".

'Fantastic opportunity'

The team renewed their appeal in August to find a final member for their centenary expedition.

Mr Ledger said it was a "fantastic opportunity" to follow in the Anglo-Irish explorer's footsteps and applied straight away.

While he said he had no polar experience, he added he had a strong track record of pushing himself to the limit.

In September 2005 Mr Ledger spontaneously decided to walk from his home, near Sheffield, to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he was studying at the time, breaking off partway to compete in the Great North Run.

He joked: "I've spent a few years living in a student basement - I'm used to living in extreme cold."

Shackleton set out on the Nimrod expedition hoping to become the first person to reach the South Pole.

Although he failed, he travelled further south than anyone else had before, and was hailed a hero and knighted when he returned to the UK.

 From left Will Gow, Henry Worsley and Henry Adams
The team hopes to complete Shackleton's trek to the pole

The explorer's granddaughter Alexandra Shackleton will present expedition leader Henry Worsley with her grandfather's original compass from the Nimrod expedition at a farewell ceremony.

The other explorers include Army Lt Col Mr Worsley, 47, from Hereford, a descendant of Frank Worsley, Shackleton's skipper on the Endurance - the ship used in a 1914 Polar expedition.

Also on team are: Will Gow, 35, from Ashford, Kent; Henry Adams, 33, from Snape, near Woodbridge, Suffolk; Tim Fright, 24, from Billingshurst, West Sussex; and David Cornell, 38, from Andover, Hampshire.

Temperatures are expected to dip to -35C and winds will hit 50mph (80kmh) during the trip.

The expedition is being used to launch a 10m Shackleton Foundation, which will fund projects that embody the adventurer's spirit and hunger for "calculated risk".

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