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British pair reach North Pole unaided

Stephen Martin and David Mitchell were cold, exhausted but happy last night as they sat under the midnight sun at the top of the world - the first British expedition to reach the North Pole unsupported.

After three months battling against shifting ice sheets and dragging 200kg sledges, they had made it, despite giving themselves just a 1 per cent chance of success when they set out on 3 March.

Dr Martin, 41, from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and Mr Mitchell, a 34-year- old electrician from Wasdale in Cumbria, started their journey from the Russian Asiatic Siberian coast and covered 1,200 miles in 92 days.

For the first 50 days they struggled against southerly winds which caused the ice to drift against them. So heavy were their sledges that they had to pull one sledge together for about two miles before returning to get the second one.

They were due to be airlifted from the Pole at about 4am today, from where they were to fly to Resolute Bay in Canada to celebrate.

Laurence Howell, the expedition's communications and safety officer, spoke to the men by radio every week from Aberdeen. He said last night: "We are all absolutely delighted. Stephen and Dave have done it and they have done it the hard way. They have made a bit of history."