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British explorers train in Yellowknife area for winter expedition to North Pole

British explorers train in Yellowknife area for winter expedition to North Pole
From CBC - February 14, 2018

Norwegian explorer FridtjofNansen set off in 1893 for the North Pole, intending for his custom-designed shipto be frozen into the drifting ice and carried across the pole.

Though he set a record for latitude, Nansendid not quite make it, leaving a gap in an otherwise well-travelled polar exploration history: to this day, there is no record of anyone reachingthe North Pole under their own power, without resupply, in winter.

Explorers Borge Ousland and Mike Horn came close in 2006, but arrived at the pole days after the start of spring.

Englishexplorers Alex Hibbert, George Bullard, and James Wheeldonwantto meet thechallenge, and have beenpreparing for the journey in the Yellowknife area. They are hoping to set out for the North Pole this fall.

All are veteran explorersHibbert and Bullardset a world record for thelongest unsupportedtraverse of Greenland in 2008, while Wheeldon and Hibbertspent a winter together in northern Greenland. But they have never worked together as a trio.

Overcoming sweaty hands and feet

The team has used Yellowknife as basecamp to winter field test their equipment and routinesbefore heading into the much higher-stakes stage onthe polar ice. They have made multi-day treks up theTibbitt to Contwoytowinter road, as well as forays out onto Great Slave Lake.

"It was nice to get some really cold days in, because obviously everything in the tent, outside the tent, becomes much harder if you wake up in 42 C, which was our coldest morning," says Hibbert.

The testing has already borne (sweaty) fruit.

"We came up here with a viewto find a whole lot of problems and things we need to correct," says Bullard. "To name one of them, we certainly found that it was important to keep our gloves dry, and our feet dry as possible.

"So we now are in the process of developing vapour barriers which we simply live inside whilst ... walking."

The high-tech solution they have adopted to that particular problem? Dish gloves.

Trio plans to drift toward North Pole on ice

@alexhibbert

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