Expeditions in extreme environments have always been a drawcard for many and Pen Hadow is no different. Hadow walked to the North Pole in 2003 becoming the first person to complete a solo expedition from Canada to the North Geographic Pole without being resupplied by a third party. It has not yet been repeated and for good reason. Some believe the difficulty of such an expedition compares to making the first ascent of Everest alone and without oxygen. His work continued and in 2009 Hadow led an exploration team to survey the thickness of the ice in the northern Beaufort Sea area in the Arctic Ocean. This expedition was sponsored by Catlin Group Limited and was known as the “Catlin Arctic Survey’. It covered a mammoth 430 km in just 73 days.
Now, Pen Hadow is returning to the North Pole but won’t be able to walk due to thinning of the Arctic ice pack. In fact, about 40% of the waters around the North Pole are currently nearly ice free during summer months and is almost at a record low. With the Arctic ice melting, an opportunity arose that Hadow could not pass on. Previously inaccessible waters have now opened up making their 5 500 km (3 500 mile) journey possible as a first in human history.
Unlike his previous expedition, he is not doing it alone. He will soon be setting off with a crew of ten in an attempt to sail two yachts to the Pole. The yachts they will be sailing are two ice-strengthened sailing vessels, the 52′ Bagheera and 49′ Snow Dragon II. They will set sail from Nome, Alaska, in early August and will not see land for six weeks. The expedition team is expected to cover about 3,500 miles by the time they return to Nome around mid-September.
The expedition website, ArcticMission(dot)com, describes the aims of the voyage as vital for research and scientific purposes:
They continue to say that breaking sailing records and reaching the North Pole is newsworthy in itself but that the main purpose of the Arctic Mission is to add value for many years to come. The expedition will explore, discover and share stories of the spectacular marine wildlife, animals, plants and even bacteria living around the North Pole. Be prepared for a few surprises!
Adding to that, the expedition will also involve comprehensive scientific research. Sharing this information will help international policy-makers decide how to best #protect90North. The more we learn about this unexplored ocean, the better we will understand how it works. This means we can make the best decisions to protect it for the benefit of future generation