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The Polar Challenge

7. May 2008

Greetings all,

What an adventure the last month has been. I assume most have been following the Polar Challenge website and are well up to speed.

After the 5 day ski in from resolute Paul Craig and I lined up on the start line. Under race rules we could not be classified after our 3rd team member Oliver unfortunately had to pull due to personal reasons so our approach was to be safe, have fun and do the best we could without race pressure.

From the start to check point 1 (CP 1) our route selection for the traverse across Bathurst Island made some tough going and we spent two days climbing out of ravines and frozen river beds.

Then came the rubble fields up Dundee Bight and climbing over or around pushed up ice formations for two days.

CP 1 was a welcome 12 hour mandatory rest then it was off for CP 2.

We had thought the rubble fields up Dundee Bight were tough but we were in for a surprise. A whole new meaning to the term “rubble field”

On the 2nd day out from CP 1 I contracted a nasty stomach infection. The symptoms themselves were not an issue but the huge loss of energy for the tough task of pulling a laden sledge through rubble fields was a serious problem. It took almost a day to get sufficient energy reserves to put in a solid days pulling and then the bug struck again. Same process and very frustrating.

With 4 days gone since CP 1 and insufficient ground covered the pressure was on.

Yet more rubble fields, severe white out conditions, bitterly cold winds, and 6 hours of sleep in 59 hours of hard going had us at CP 2.

The elation of having overcome some very difficult situations was quickly dampened when race organisers advised that due to the time lost in getting to CP 2 we needed to be able to guarantee to finish the remaining 63nm sector to the finish in 3 days and 5 hours.

Logistics of air lifting teams out of such a remote location did not allow for additional time so we had to reluctantly accept that our 2008 Polar Challenge was over.

We were then air lifted out of CP 2 with race staff to the finish line. We spent the next two days in our trusty tent at the start line before being air lifted back to Resolute which is where I make this diary entry.

So folks what an adventure.

It has been 20 days in some of the most fascinating, stunningly beautiful and yet hostile environment on this planet. It is such a privilege to have had this experience.

To be skiing in huge frozen river beds, amongst distorted ice rubble, on sea ice that extends to the horizon in all directions is simply amazing. Only you and your team mate in nature’s true wilderness.

For team mates I could not have had a better man than Paul Craig to take on the challenges. Paul was a tower of strength, is one of the old school rock solid guys and will be a friend for life.

At no time did Paul or I ever consider giving in or that we would not beat all the difficulties we faced so it is devastating that we simply did not have sufficient time to complete the race final 63 nm leg which included the 1996 Magnetic North Pole but such is life.

The challenges never beat us, only time did.

I thank all of you who sent messages to the race website which I was able to read at CP 2 and at the finish line. It is warming to have such great friends.

I also thank those who have made donations to the Himalayan Trust and NZ Salvation Army. Please continue to encourage people to make direct donations to these very worthy causes.

For me it is time to take a short break, enjoy the simple luxuries of hot showers and consider the next challenge.


date Posted on: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 10:38 pm

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