A POLAR explorer is facing a real “race against time” after climate change forced a major route change at the 11th hour.
Ettington adventurer Mark Wood was set to embark on a 600 mile journey from the Russian Arctic Coast to the geographic North Pole on Saturday February 20 – ironically with the aim of exposing the “true extent” of climate change in the Arctic.
But with just days to go before 38 year-old Mark, and his two serving soldier teammates Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary, were due to set off it was revealed the Arctic conditions it would face had never been so treacherous as Arctic sea ice levels had hit a “record low”.
The unforeseen change means the start date for the North Pole 16 expedition has now had to be pushed back by a month.
Even Government climate change adviser, Dr Stephan Harrison, had warned how dangerous the team’s “imperative” expedition would be.
And now the team has had to drastically revise its route in order to keep the £350,000 mission, dubbed “a race against time”, alive.
The team now plans to travel 470 nautical miles from the geographic North Pole across the Arctic to the Canadian Arctic Coast with a revised start date of March 23, and will have just 35 days to achieve its goal – as the ice will be too thin any later for a helicopter to land to collect them.
Mark, who has previously scaled the heights of Everest and recently skied to the North and South Poles over six months, is taking the setback in his stride.
He told The Observer: “My team and I will be seizing the opportunity that we are left with to capture our moment on ice.
“The change in world climate has dictated the expedition we are allowed to do without risking the lives of others.”
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.
In January the team was hit with the blow that its other expedition patron Lt Col Henry Worsley, a great friend of all three North Pole 16 explorers had died while trying to cross Antarctica solo.
Follow the expedition on Twitter @Jupiter_Mark1 to keep updated on this incredible expedition.