Icetrek North Pole Ski 2017

Apr 10

The North Pole

Published at 22:05
Dispatch created from email
We woke to a somber morning, foggy with limited visibility. But with our usual positive mood we seized the day and headed north on a reasonable surface. Good things come to the adventurous and by midday the skies cleared and the lunch break was marginally tolerable for the first time.

For the past couple of days John has been suffering neck and shoulder muscle pain, an affliction I know all too well in my 25th year hauling sleds. Nigh 22km was not on the agenda today but the lure of the pole pushed John beyond the threshold of exhaustion and pain. It's not by chance that he's held global CEO positions at companies such as DHL and TNT and is currently chairman of Telstra. At 61 he has stamina, determination and resilience in spades.

We now find ourselves at the North Pole and the most northerly people in the world. Our tent is currently pitched at 89.59.865, we've already drifted south 345m.

Tomorrow we likely fly back to Barneo. But for now... just another nip of Vodka. Cheers John!


Well, what an amazing day!

We woke to overcast conditions and light snowfall but as the morning progressed a watery sun appeared and we were blessed yet again with fine weather.

Ice conditions were varied - some newly frozen leads creating perfect skiing conditions but also some really challenging sections where we had to remove our skis and haul the sleds over jumbled ice blocks as big as a house. In one section there was even unfrozen water in the crevasses between ice sheets and Eric showed me how this was being caused by one section of the ice sheet being driven under another section causing massive pressure ridges but also free standing water as these titanic forces work against each other. Fortunately in the temperatures we are experiencing in the minus thirties every day free standing water doesn't last very long and can be safe to cross on skis in a matter of hours.

We achieved the greatest distance yet today, over 20 Km, and although we had expected to take another two days to reach the pole we decided to push on given that we got so close. Quite how I made the last few kilometres I don't know. I was totally running on empty for the last kilometres. Two kilometres at home is like taking the dog for a quick walk but two kilometres out here was a massive mind over matter exercise. My neck and shoulders hurt so much from hauling the sledge that I could not lift my head so I concentrated on my ski tips and forcing myself to take another step after another step. Eric was so patient and understanding and somehow step by step, we finally got there.

The extra effort was worth it though as by pushing on for the extra hour or two we made it to the pole. What an incredible feeling - all alone in this vast white wilderness of indescribable beauty but also indescribable harshness and probably the most inhospitable place on earth. I am exhausted, tired, and shaking with the cold but feel so delighted that we finally made it.

We have pitched camp right on the North Pole itself which is an amazing feeling. We will need to stay here until the Russians tell us when they can come and get us by helicopter to go back to Barneo base camp.

In the meantime we will stay holed up in the tent to stay warm. We appear to have arrived at the pole ahead of the majority of other teams and although this was never a race this does give me quiet satisfaction. Hopefully when they arrive we can get airlifted out by the Russians back to base camp.

Can I say a huge thank you to my family and friends for supporting and believing in me? Can I also say thank you for all the wonderful messages? Most importantly of all, can I say a huge thank you to my wonderful guide Eric Philips. Eric believed in me from the beginning and encouraged me to believe in myself. Eric pushed me to limits I did not know I had but also knew when it was prudent to stop. Eric watched over me and whether it was fixing my ski bindings or helping me cross a pressure ridge he always put looking after my safety before his own needs. I simply could not have even begun to take on a challenge like this without someone with the incomparable skills Eric possesses and I owe him an unfathomable debt of gratitude.
  • Name: North pole
  • Elevation: 1 m
  • Latitude: 89° 5959North
  • Longitude: 129° 00East


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    2017-04-20 10:08:00 Andy & Terri says: Hearty congrats John on your polar conquest! Not only an exceptional philanthropist but also an exceptional person - stay home for a while and write the book! Andy What an extraordinary experience for you John. I'm absolutely sure that your family is more proud of you than you could imagine. Stay safe & enjoy the remainder of you wonderful trip Kindest of regards Terri
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    2017-04-12 11:08:26 C and P says: Image 2 should be a family symbol or slogan for ever more - inspiring - Em might make it the centrepiece of a very special collage... Everyone longing to see you, JP... Congratulations! Xxxxxxx
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    2017-04-12 03:38:03 Mimi says: What a privilege it was to follow your exciting and at times a bit scary trek to the forbidding North Pole! Your incredible descriptions of each day-- in and out of your tent- are definitely material for a BOOK! Because we were able to follow you day by exciting day, time went by quite fast and we are now waiting impatiently to welcome our HERO back home! Count down begins..... much love M
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    2017-04-11 12:00:41 Saul says: Wow wow wow...a massive CONGRATS John. What an absolutely extraordinary achievement. Very pleased to hear you're at the top of the world safe and in such good well done Eric and let me add to the thank yous. See you next Friday in Sydney...we may just need to work out how to sqeeze in a small celebratory drink!!
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    2017-04-11 09:41:25 says: Great blog, reading it everyday day with effort. Thank you for sharing the experience with me. In my comfort at home it makes realise what strenght lies within us all. Stay safe Eric & men. Have pleasure.
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    2017-04-11 08:35:49 Tom Smit says: Congrats John and Eric, well done! Eric, looking forward to have you here in Spain, it's going to be 27 C by the weekend! :) Enjoy the russian food there!
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    2017-04-11 08:04:08 Rob Smith says: Way to go Eric and John. An amazing experience and an amazing accomplishment John. Something you will always remember and always have with you. Eric I do hope we can catch up at some point in April. Rob S
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    2017-04-11 07:33:19 Julie Brown says: CONGRATULATIONS, John & Eric! Well done. Your blogs have been a kick & a pleasure to follow.
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    2017-04-11 07:18:39 Jen says: Thank you and congrats Eric on getting the big man there also!!
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    2017-04-11 06:37:50 Kieran H says: Fantastic achievement John - congratulations - looks a tad colder than Kenn Reef.
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