A Glorious Victory

Published on 29.04.2010 - Northpolechallenge.co.uk

The last MI-8 flight coming from Barneo

The last MI-8 flight coming from Barneo

© International Polar Foundation

Out of this spring's four unsupported expeditions, only the Dan Darley/Amelia Russel couple has successfully completed its adventure. A fine feat.

Before making a final analysis of their adventure, we need to return to the last hours of their trek for a moment. They were at the very least epic, as we wrote two days ago. Because whereas Dan and Amelia had been thinking that the last kilometres were going to be easier, it was exactly the opposite that had occurred.

A brief reminder that on the eve of their arrival at the Pole, Amelia had dislocated her shoulder by falling into an interstitial water channel and the pain that Dan had been feeling in the small of his back had suddenly returned. Apart from that, until the last moment the fight against the icecap had been bitter, it seemingly wanting to devote its entire energy into slowing down the candidates from their prize as much as it possibly could. "The last two miles were horrible", Dan wrote on 25 April. "We knew that each kilometre of this trek had been won with the sweat of our brow. As it was impossible to choose a good path because quite simply there wasn't one going in the right direction, we slid through heaven knows what amazing maze of ice blocks, circumventing each time ever more chaotic areas of congestion, which gave us food for thought and which were in front of us all the time without respite ... We got through the eye of the needle. Both Amelia and I had the impression that we were being punished. No question of telling ourselves that the end was going to be great... In the end, we emerged on to a flatter area at Point 89° 59' 09", and there were then only a further couple of hundred metres to go." On the last day, the couple had to advance for 17 hours at a stretch in order to cover the last 27 kilometres of the journey. An incredible outcome.

Dan and Amelia reached the Pole on 25 April at 11:20 UT after walking/skiing/suffering for 57 days, 19 hours and 50 minutes - they had indeed set out on 26 February. Amelia is the third woman to make a success of this trek and the first from Britain. Out of the four expeditions that had attempted the adventure without resupply, this couple was the only one to have brought it off.

They waited a dozen or so hours before being picked up by the Boyarsky Logistics MI-8 without any problem, Mr Barneo himself (Viktor Boyarsky) having made a point of travelling to the Pole -it indeed being the last flight of the season. A short hop had been necessary to go to get the trio led by Sarah McNair Landry, who had arrived at the Pole just a few hours after Dan and Amelia.

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