Explorers close to reaching the 'Pole of Inaccessibility'

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The Independent Online

A British team of explorers "within spitting distance" of becoming the first to reach the most inaccessible part of the Antarctic were held back from reaching their goal last night by "fine" weather.

It had been thought the three men, from Gloucestershire, and their guide might finish the 1,032-mile journey to the "Pole of Inaccessibility" today. It marks the centre of Antarctica and is the point that is furthest from any coast.

Rory Sweet, 39, Henry Cookson, 31, and Rupert Longsdon, 34 ­ the N2i team ­ have only used their own feet and kite power on the route ­ the equivalent of dragging a sled from London to Helsinki in temperatures that drop to -52C.

But last night a lack of wind meant the team were unlikely to complete their journey before midweek. They also complained of unseasonably warm weather, as the temperature hit -25C.

Nick Stocker, a publicist for the charity trek, said he had spoken to one of its organisers in base camp who told him the group could make it in two days if the wind picks up. He said: "I don't think they have been able to travel in the last couple of days. It comes in fits and starts but hopefully they will be in a position to move on tomorrow. It is looking like it will be mid-week when they arrive."

A message on the trek's website read: "No wind, no movement, nothing."

The trio and their guide, the Canadian explorer Paul Landry, flew from South Africa to Novo on 29 November. They then embarked on their journey, which has taken them over ice crevasses, through glacier fields and on to the Antarctic ice plateau.

The team hauled their pulks (sleds) or used kite power when the weather was suitable, enabling them to cover long distances. But strong winds, or no wind at all, meant they were regularly forced to spend up to two days in their tents.

The trek is aiming to raise £150,000 towards a sports centre for the Calvert Trust, which gives people with disabilities the chance to take part in outdoor activities.

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