British explorers recount 'agony' of Pole trek

A team of explorers have spoken of their "agony" at enduring high winds and sub-zero temperatures to become the first to reach the remotest part of the Antarctic on foot.

The British-Canadian expedition trekked more than 1,700km - aided by kite ski - to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility, the furthest point from any ocean, on 19 January. The Pole, more than 3,725m above sea level, was first visited in 1958 by Soviet explorers in a convoy of snow vehicles.

The latest team, led by Canadian Paul Landry, said it was surprised to find a bust of Vladimir Lenin, erected by the Soviets, still standing in the ice. The team, called N2i, also includes Britons Rupert Longsdon, Rory Sweet and Henry Cookson.

By satellite phone, Mr Longsdon said: "About 20 miles out, we spotted a black dot in the horizon. As we got nearer the dot began bigger which gave us something to aim for. Before that I'd just focused on the horizon. It was strange because during that 25 hours, the hard hours seemed to last for days but the two or three hours passed in what seemed like no time.

"Once we were about 200 metres from the black dot - the bust of Lenin - we all stopped and took off our skis. There was a huge amount of hugging and shouting as we walked the last bit." The three Britons won the 2005 Polar Challenge, a competitive 563km (350-mile) race to the North Pole, with no Arctic experience. They then hired Mr Landry, a veteran polar explorer who has led numerous Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, to guide them to the former Soviet base.

Mr Longsdon said the team's achievement was just beginning to sink in. "We've had messages from all over the world via e-mail. People we've never met are sending their congratulations. We are a bit overwhelmed and physically and mentally exhausted. It was agony but worth the pain."

Mr Sweet added: "We're all exhausted and elated. We've skied for 25 hours non-stop to get here. All we can think about now is getting some sleep."

It took the group 49 days to complete their journey from the Russian scientific base Novolazarevskaya, on the Antarctic coast north-north-west of the Pole of Inaccessibility. They will now fly to another Russian base, Vostok, before travelling on to Cape Town.

The Pole of Inaccessibility lies some 870km (540 miles) north-east of the South Pole. After the Soviet explorers reached it in 1958, it was used briefly as a meteorological research base. The area was last visited by a six-man French team, which passed through the Pole of Inaccessibility on a trans-Antarctic expedition supported by dog sleds in 1989-90, according to the Australian Antarctic Division.

Henry's father Richard Cookson, who lives in Corfu, opened a bottle of champagne when he found out the team had made it.

"It's a marvellous achievement," he said. "All three of them are just amazing. To be the first to get to the Pole Of Inaccessibility has been on their minds for a while. They deserve it. And all for charity too."

The 60-year-old, who works for a tour company in Spain, had his reservations when his son first set out. "It's a worry, which makes the fact they've got there even more of a relief."

Mr Sweet's partner Steph Gore said: "Considering the problems they've negotiated and the four days they spent in the same position the distance they've made up is incredible. We can't wait for him to get back."

Throughout the journey, the team breakfasted on granola with water. Lunch was cheese, salami, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. Drinks included hot chocolate, tea and coffee.

The team melted ice and snow and used it to hydrate the food, which they cooked on a one-ring gas burner.

An aeroplane will take them to Camp Vostok. From there thesy will fly to Camp Progress on the eastern coast of Antarctica and on to Camp Molodezhnaya, from where they hope to catch an icebreaker boat on 27 January.

They are due in Cape Town on 5 February, where their friends and families will meet them before they go their separate ways.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'