EXPLORER Mark Wood has set off on his mission to travel along fragile ice to the North Pole in a bid to raise awareness of climate change.
The Ettington-based adventurer, along with two serving soldiers, Paul Vicary and Mark Langridge, are undertaking a
dangerous 20-day expedition across one of the most unforgiving areas of the planet in what could be the last mission of its kind by a British team. All three men are putting their lives on the line as they travel 120 nautical miles.
Ironically, a series of climate change challenges had threatened to derail the Race Against Time expedition which forced the team to change its planned route following weeks of delays.
But after a series of setbacks, the 38 year-old and his team began their journey from a drop off points two degrees from the North Pole.
The first day saw the team face severe temperatures knocking -30 but it managed to complete nine nautical miles.
The temperature has now dropped to around -15, and if the terrain does not get worse the team hope to travel for eight hours a day.
In his first message home, Mark said: “We are really pleased to have arrived on an Arctic Ocean that is frozen and after so many delays.
“We’re all in good spirits and we’re really pleased to be here. We’ve been in the lap of everybody else’s hands over the last few weeks and now it’s down to us to go out.
“Our main aim here is to document what the state of the ocean is. From our first glimpse of it it looks like we’ve landed on quite a good day I’d say.”
The team originally planned to ski for 60 days from the Russian Arctic Coast to the North Pole, but they were forced to change the route and timeframe to 35 days to travel from the Pole to the Canadian Arctic Coast.
It came after Arctic sea ice levels hit a record low in January and February proving to be the hottest month in recorded history.
After a week’s training on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, more bad news followed when the runway at Barneo Ice Station in Norway, which is where the team were going to fly out from, cracked and another had to be built.
The expedition’s patron, legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has already described the expedition as the “toughest journey on the planet” due to the “unforgiving terrain”.
The team will also face temperatures of up to minus 60 and the threat of encountering Polar bears.
Follow Twitter @Jupiter_Mark1 for the latest on the expedition.