Country Tails

February 19, 2016


The Running Horse in Mayfair hosted the North Pole 16 expedition launch party last Friday evening, at which we all wished the team the best of luck before they set off on their incredible journey. The evening hosted by team Chase saw invited guests enjoying Great Chase cocktails and GB&T’s in the warmth of the Running Horse before a few essential speeches took place.

Seasoned explorer Mark Wood took the opportunity to announce the new route for the expedition – ‘Heading into the North Pole in late March will give us minimal time to cross over 470 nautical miles of floating sea ice to the Canadian coast. The record for this is 38 days and we have 35 days to complete our journey so we will need to operate extremely well as a team and remain focused throughout the journey to give us a fighting chance of succeeding. We have the realisation and experience to keep pushing – “Always a Little further”.’

‘As you know this journey will document climate change and its effect on our planet through photographs, daily updates from ice and a documentary. In addition, we would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness and funds for our chosen charity – Hire a Hero – supporting all ex-military personal.’

Mission Statement;

In  2014  we  planned  to  ski  unsupported  and  unaided  from  the  Canadian  coast  line  to  the   Geographic  North  Pole.  The  airline  company  who  organise  the  extractions  at  the  North  Pole,   along  with  our  safety  on  route,  advised  us  that  the  ice  was  extremely  unpredictable  and  too   difficult  to  judge  for  them  to  organise  a  pick  up.  In  short  we  could  not  consider  this  route  as  it   could  put  other  lives  at  risk. We  then  turned  to  Russia  which  is  the  only  other  option  as  we  wanted  to  leave  from  the   coast.  So  we  worked  extensively  with  the  Russian  logistic  team  on  an  ambitious  journey  to   the  North  Pole  from  the  Russian  coast  line  -­  unsupported  and  unaided.       The  planning  and  negotiations  have  been  complex  and  extremely  time  consuming.     In  the  last  few  weeks,  with  our  start  date  looming,  we  were  then  hit  by  two  big  factors; 

1.   The  satellite  images  of  the  ice  around  the  coast  are  extremely  weak  -­  open  areas  of   ocean  surrounded  by  ice  that  is  only  two  years  old.  We  did  anticipate  this  though  and   were  preparing  to  face  these  obstacles.    

 2.   Our  group  visa  in  the  final  hours  was  refused  by  the  Russian  government  with  no   reason  given  -­  we  can  only  speculate;  but  in  the  end  as  explorers  with  neutral   political  views  we  have  to  respect  this  decision.    

Our  extensive  experience  in  the  Polar  Regions  allows  us  to  then  re­assess  the  risks  to  keep   the  spirit  of  the  expedition  alive.  There  is  now  only  one  option  left,  the  one  we  were  dreading,   that  and  ironically  allows  us  to  work  with  both  the  Russian  and  Canadian  logistic  teams.  Our   aim  for  the  expedition  has  always  been  to  cross  the  Arctic  Ocean  ­  this  unforgiving,  unstable   area  of  our  planet  to  form  an  honest  documentary  that  will  bring  the  viewer  into  the   expedition  with  us  as  the  “The  Fourth  Member  of  the  team”          

New Mission 16    

On  April  1st  2016  we  will  fly  across  the  Arctic  Ocean  from  Spitsbergen  -­  a  Norwegian   archipelago  on  the  ocean  to  a  Russian  ice  station called  Barneo  ­  roughly  calculated  as  30   Nautical  miles  from  the Geographic  North  Pole.  From  here  we  will  fly  in  a  long  range   helicopter  to  be  dropped  off  at  the  North  Pole  itself. Leaving  civilisation behind  we  will  then  head  South  towards  the  coast  line  of  Canada  ­  the   Canadians  cannot  land  on  the  ocean  after  the  5th  May  as  the  ice  will  be  too  thin  so  we  will   have  only  35  days  to  cover  over  470  Nautical  miles  of  floating  sea  ice.  Our  target  will  be  to   reach  Ward  Hunt  Island  which  has  a  small  remote  run  way  on  the  edge  of  the  Arctic  Ocean. Only  a  hand  full  of  teams  in  history  have  covered  this  reversed  route  and  the  fastest  time   has  been  38  days.  As  a  documentary  polar  exploration  team  we  won’t  be  racing  or  trying  to   break  records  ­  it’s  not  within  us  to  do  this.  We  will  seize  the  opportunity  that  we  are  left  with   to  capture  our  moment  on  ice  ­  the  change  in  world  climate  has  dictated  the  expedition  we   are  allowed  to  do  without  risking  the  lives  of  others. Two  years  ago  the  expedition  was  named  "A  Race  Against  Time"  ­  with  everything  stacked   against  us  these  words  now  bring  on  new  meanings.  This  North  Pole  ­  Race  Against  Time  expedition  involves  the  only  team  in  the  world  this  year   that  will  attempt  to  cross  the  Arctic  ocean,  unsupported  and  unaided  ­  your  support  is  vital.   To  follow  the  journey  and  to  support  us  by  supporting  our  chosen  military  charity  HIRE  A   HERO  please  go  to;        

5 major issues with heading from the North Pole to South to Canada;    

1.   Freezing  temperatures  will  help  our  crossing  on  hard  ice  but  as  the  weeks  pass  the   temperatures  will  get  warmer   which  will   turn  the  ice to  slush  and   create  open   stretches  of  exposed  ocean  (open  leads).  

2.   Open  leads  will  mean  the  team  might  have  to  enter  the  water  and  swim  across  to  the   next  expanse  of  hard  ice.  We  will  then  pull  the  sledges  across  the  water  to  continue   in  a  straight  line.    

3.   We  will  follow  the  ocean  drift  which  is  good  but  the  navigation  needs  to  be  spot  on  as   the  team  may  drift  East  or  West  -­  taking  us  miles  of  course.    

4.   Polar  bears  are  a  big  problem  when  the  ice  melts  as  this  is  their hunting  period  for   mainly  seals  -­  they  are  the  only  predator  on  the planet  that  has  been  known  to   actively  hunt  human  beings.  We  need to  stay  alert  throughout  the  journey, especially   at  night  when  they  could  eat  our  food,  trash  our  equipment  and  then  think  about  us!    

5.   Time  is  against  us  -­  in  reality  we  would  ideally  require  a  further  10 to 15  days  to  be   comfortably  in  with  a  fighting  chance  of  reaching  the coast  line.  We  aim  to  move   slowly  and  directly  as  a  team,  this  is  a calculated  journey  to  get  us  as  far  as  possible,   our  timings  and  speed will  change  from  day  to  day  due  to  the  environment.

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