UK & World News

  • 17 July 2014, 6:14

Volunteers Needed For 800-Mile Arctic Trek

A team of British explorers is being assembled to attempt an expedition to a remote part of the Arctic yet to be reached by man.

The Ice Warrior Challenge is being backed by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and will see the team attempt to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility.

The region is 411 miles (661km) from the North Pole at the very centre of the Arctic Ocean.

The 800-mile trek is being led and completed by professional explorer Jim McNeill who has attempted it twice before and almost died in the process.

"I got 170 nautical miles north of the last landfall of Canada before I pulled the plug on it," he told Sky News.

"I fell into the water and nearly perished with the ice blocks floating all around me. I managed to extricate myself but a storm system came in and the next three days were quite frankly the worst in my life, it really felt as though the ice was going to open up at any point and swallow me."

Sir Ranulph says the challenge could come down to luck as much as endurance.

He told Sky News: "Jim has tried already and is gradually narrowing down how to do it by experience.

"This time there's an even greater chance of success but it doesn't depend entirely on the team. I'm not blaming nature but if the sea ice behaves itself badly at that time in that place then it's going to be very difficult for anyone at all to make it."

The team is looking for 28 volunteers for the dangerous trek, with each member having to raise around £20,000 for equipment and transport.

The explorers will be split into four groups who will each travel around 200 miles with Mr McNeill.

It's nearly 100 years since the same journey was almost attempted by Sir Ernest Shackleton - famous for exploring the South Pole.

His granddaughter Alexandra Shackleton said it was a dream he never realised.

She said: "I thought the white north was nothing to do with me - Shackletons do the white south and not the white north. But I actually looked things up and saw that Ernest Shackleton had indeed wanted to go to the white north.

"He was all geared up to do so but the Canadian government withdrew their sponsorship so he had to go south where he died."

It will be a world first if Mr McNeill and his team make it.

A piece of kit they are taking will also be a world first. After his brush with death on the last attempt, Mr McNeill has designed a sled/canoe he calls a Qaja which he hopes could be an expedition, or even life saver.

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