Stranded polar explorer's wife fears for his safety as rescue attempts fail

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The Independent Online

The wife of the stranded polar explorer Pen Hadow admitted that she feared for his life yesterday after two attempts to reach him failed following his record-breaking feat.

On Monday he became the first person to reach the geographic North Pole unsupported from Canada, but has been stranded since and only has enough food left to last until Wednesday. Exhausted and unable to speak to the outside world since his satellite telephone failed, the explorer's spirits would be waning, Mary Hadow said.

Speaking from their home in Dartmoor, she said: "I think he will have gone through lots of emotions. He was ecstatic when he reached the pole, then he must have plunged into a deep gloom knowing he could not be rescued. Because he is all alone and so tired, Pen will be having a really horrid time."

Mr Hadow, 41, an experienced polar explorer, has now spent more than two months on the ice after completing the 478-mile marathon.

Two Twin Otter aircraft took off from Eureka weather station on Ellesmere Island on Thursday night to pick him up but missed their refuelling stop because of bad weather and had to turn back.

Now his satellite phone is dead, his only communication is his signal beacon, which is currently set to a signal that indicates "non-urgent pick up requested here. Conditions OK for plane to land."

Despite the setbacks Mrs Hadow is confident he will make it back for a reunion with their children, Wilf, four, and one-year-old Freya, both named after explorers.

She called her husband "invincible" after his success in which he hauled a 150kg sledge of food and equipment over constantly moving, cracking sea ice.

The explorer braved sub-zero temperatures, swam in the freezing sea and negotiated huge pressure ridges. However, Mrs Hadow admitted that she had no idea when the plane will next attempt to reach her husband.

The last time she spoke to her husband was on Monday when he called to say he had reached his goal.

"It is a very hard time, just waiting and not knowing how long he will be out there but I am trying not to worry. It is very hard to sleep at night," she said. "Wilf is aware of what is going on and keeps asking, 'When is daddy coming home?' It's very difficult not being able to answer the question."

One small comfort is a telegram of congratulations from the Queen sent to Mrs Hadow's praising the explorer's courage. "To receive it was so nice and amazing he has national recognition, my lovely, cosy husband. I always knew he was exceptional and it seems the whole world knows it too," Mrs Hadow said.

In the telegram the Queen wrote: "I was pleased to learn of your success in completing your remarkable, unaided journey to the North Pole.

"You have defied great odds and extreme conditions in your endeavour. Your courage, perseverance and determination have been an inspiration to us all. I offer you my warm congratulations."

Mrs Hadow is also fearful of her husband's physical state. "He will be very, very tired and without the adrenaline to keep him going, I am worried that his body will start to suffer. "We are hoping the weather will improve for long enough to get a plane out to him."