April’s the season for North Pole expeditions, and here at Adventure Travel HQ our inboxes have been pinging with news from the top of the world – including a new world record.
First up is team Walking with the Wounded, who we featured in the March/April edition of Av Trav. The eight-man team, four of whom are soldiers injured Afghanistan, reached the Pole on Saturday (16 April) after 13 days on the ice – more than four days ahead of schedule. They’ve become the first team that includes amputees to get to the North Pole unsupported.
“We’ve had a great trip. Everything has gone well and according to plan and we have had relatively good ice conditions, stable weather and no serious injuries,” said expedition leader Inge Solheim in a voice blog from the Pole on Saturday. “We are very, very happy.”
“A lot of people said it can’t be done and here we are, at the North Pole,” added Private Jaco Van Gass, 24, who lost an arm in Afghanistan in 2009. The team, who trekked 170 miles to get to the Pole, are raising money for charities for injured soldiers, and their total’s currently at almost half a million pounds. See http://walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/.
Next up is 16-year-old Parker Liautaud, who’s become one of the youngest people to trek to the North Pole. He got there on 11 April after taking just four days to cover his 70-mile route. Parker, who’s half French, half American and goes to school at Eton, attempted the Pole last year too but was evacuated only 15 miles from the finish line because of atrocious weather; this attempt took him a week quicker than planned. As well as the trekking, Parker made 200 snow thickness measurements every day in which will now be used in long and short-term climate change research. See more about his mission at http://oywnorthpole.parkerliautaud.com/.
Not many people who reach the North Pole then fly to Nepal to tackle Everest, but that’s what former Welsh rugby player Richard Parks is doing. Richard, along with Olympic-gold-winning rower Steve Williams, reached the Pole on 12 April after six days’ skiing. This was goal number six on a mission Richard’s called the 737 Challenge: climbing the highest mountain in each of the seven continents, and walking to the North and South Pole – all within seven months – to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
“I say this with every leg, but it really is a privilege to have been up in the Arctic and been up on the ice,” said Richard. “So very few people get the opportunity to arrive at the North Pole on foot so it was an amazing feeling… I got goose pimples and shivers when I actually thought about standing on top of the world.”
After Everest Richard still has Denali (6,194m) in Alaska and Mount Elbrus (5,642) in Russia to go, and so far he's raised more than £30,000. See more at http://www.737challenge.com/.