British man dies on Greenland ice trek and two left 'critically ill' after snow and ice storm lashes adventurers


Jennifer Cockerell,Emma Clark
Wednesday 01 May 2013 21:19

A British man has died after getting caught up in a severe snow storm during a trip of a lifetime to Greenland.

Philip Goodeve-Docker, 37, who had described the expedition as one of the "great polar challenges", was crossing the Greenland ice cap with two friends when they became trapped in the sudden storm.

It took around 30 hours for emergency teams to be able to reach them and airlift them to safety but Mr Goodeve-Docker died before their arrival.

The events manager, from London, was on the unsupported crossing with experienced expedition leader Roan Hackney and Andy Norman, a former IT professional, who both remain in a "critical condition" in hospital, according to Mr Goodeve-Docker's brother, Mark.

On his JustGiving page Mr Goodeve-Docker wrote of the dangers he would face travelling across one of the most "deadly landscapes in the world".

He said the challenge across the world's second largest ice cap from east to west would take 30 to 35 days.

"We will travel 550-600km across one of the most dazzling, beautiful, yet barren and deadly landscapes in the world, dragging all our own supplies (between 100-135kg) on individual pulks (sleds)," he said.

"This is one of the great polar challenges, through which we face such dangers as polar bears (not cute and cuddly), crevasses up to 500+ metres deep, polar winds, temperatures of 5C to -50C, plus the horror of 3 men with one tent & no washing."

On a Facebook page set up specially for the expedition, a post said the team had began the trek on April 25.

It was followed by another message posted yesterday, which read: "The Expedition has been cancelled due to severe weather - Andy shall update on his return."

On Mr Goodeve-Docker's own Facebook page, his family said: "We wanted to let everyone know that on Sunday morning we had a phone call to confirm that Philip sadly died.

"To our son, brother and friend, we are so glad that you were on your adventure and expedition that you had wanted to do for so long. You will be unbelievably missed and your memory cherished. xx"

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said they were alerted to the situation on Sunday.

"We are aware that British nationals were in difficulty during an expedition in Greenland and have been rescued by the authorities," she said.

"Sadly one of the men, Philip Goodeve-Docker, died.

"The two other British nationals are in hospital.

"We are providing consular assistance to their families at this time."

Mr Goodeve-Docker had raised more than £5,000 for the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI) in carrying out the trip, which he dedicated to the memory of his grandfather who died two years ago.

This morning donations rose to more than £6,000 on his JustGiving page as people paid tribute to the adventurer.

One wrote: "Would have paid any money to have you back my friend still can't believe you are gone. rest in peace hope to see you again one day."

Another wrote: "In memory, you made a difference and lived large!!"

QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman said: "Our thoughts today are with Philip's family.

"Philip died doing something that he had always dreamed of, undertaking a great challenge while helping others at the same time.

"Staff and trustees at the QNI are very shocked and saddened by this tragic loss but also immensely proud of him and his bravery.

"It is the charity's intention not to let this tragic loss of life pass without creating a suitable and enduring memorial to Philip."

Dozens of tributes were also left on his Facebook page.

Greg Ware wrote: "Phil was one of the nicest, friendliest, funniest and most gunuine human beings i have had the pleasure of knowing. No matter how bad things were going he would always be able to put a smile on his face and make a joke of the situation and make everyone around him feel happy. his never say never attitude and determination to succeed made him someone everyone wanted to know."

While another message, from Abbey Bloom, said: "His energy, lust for life & enthusiasm are something that will always stay with me. When you were in his company almost anything felt possible. Rest in peace, Phil. You were a real gentleman, a lovely person & it was a total joy to have got to know you over these passed few years."

Before leaving for Greenland, Mr Goodeve-Docker wrote on his JustGiving page: "On the 19th April 2013 (having left on the 16th April) I will be in Greenland preparing to cross the 2nd largest icecap in world.

"For the next 30-35 days a 3 man team, including myself, fellow adventurer Andy Norman, and led by my polar explorer friend Roan Hackney, will attempt to cross Greenland's icesheet unsupported (

"Part of my reasons for this frankly nutty adventure is my Grandfather, Patrick Pirie-Gordon, who passed away two years ago.

"Amongst his achievements were his key roles as Treasurer and Honorary Vice-President for the Royal Geographical Society, helping fund polar exploration, and Treasurer for the QNI. He was intensely passionate about both these institutions.

"It gave me added incentive to say yes to the expedition and, because of their fantastic work in nursing & helping those in need at home, to do my part for QNI. They really do fantastic work.

"So please dig deep and donate now. All the support will be great incentive to come back in one piece! :) I'm going back outside to stumble around with tyres again..wish me luck!"

On his website about the expedition, Mr Norman said Mr Goodeve-Docker was "completely new to the Arctic and indeed this adventure lark" but had been "training furiously".

He added that they were being supported and monitored during the trip from the UK, managed by a world leader in Greenland expeditions.


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