So I have finally returned to supposed civilisation after what I can only describe as an expedition of a lifetime.
I have been overwhelmed by the support from friends within the industry and thought it would be useful to provide some context to what we have just completed.
The journey started by flying from Heathrow to Oslo (1208km), then Oslo to Svalbard Longyearban (2015km), which lies at 78 degrees and is the easily accessed frontier for the Arctic Circle.
After a couple of days sorting our expedition pulks (sledges), in which we will drag all of our supplies behind us, fuel and food as well as our tents. We embark upon the final leg of our journey in a Russian Antonov plane bound for Barneo ice camp.
Landing on a ‘drifting’ ice runway which is in existence for three weeks only, with a changing location due to the sea currents, can’t be the easiest of tasks for the Russian Air Force pilots. Unfortunately we were one of the first flights in and, as a result, we firstly had an aborted landing, quickly followed by a managed crash landing, which nearly brought a swift end to our expedition and potentially could have had much more serious consequences.
After a night camping at Barneo, we had a short helicopter ride courtesy of the Russian Geographical Society to be dropped at 89 degrees.
Left alone to navigate our way north covering the last degree to 90 degrees; the North Pole. It is difficult to describe the journey; the immense power and savage beauty of the natural world, experiencing cold like never before (-47 at its coldest), the mind-altering 24-hour daylight, the challenges of undertaking everyday tasks in our spatially challenged five-man tent, the sheer hard work and exhaustion of negotiating the ice boulder fields (one such field lasted an entire day), whilst dragging our pulks, dehydrated food and munchies bags, the frost nip on the finger tips, the medivac of one of our team due to severe frostbite, and the camaraderie of a team working together to overcome the challenges to survive in an environment where we are simply not supposed to exist.
Our final arrival at the Geographic North Pole, nine days later was an emotional moment for many of the team. Hugely relieved to have made it. Exhausted by the journey, but joyed by the achievement of raising funds for The Prince’s Trust and a very welcome cup of tea.
Two things I have learnt: Nature is indeed a wondrous beast which demands respected at all times’ and “Sheer bloody determination and rigorous planning are a potent combination.
Would I ever do it again? There is talk of a trek to the South Pole in 2019, but don’t tell anyone just yet.
Thank you to all those who have kindly sponsored myself and the team. We have raised over £500,000 for The Princes Trust, which will help 250 young people turn their lives around and fully realise their potential. More details can be found at www.Arcticenterprise.co.uk