An Unforgettable Night
Published on 07.04.2010 - One Man Epic Mission North Pole
Hesitation Waltzes: at two o'clock in the morning, Tom Smitheringale gave up because of the frostbite on his fingers. Three hours later, he decided to continue his forced march towards the Pole!
Tom Smitheringale and Jim Pizzey, his webmaster-cum-confidant, will undoubtedly remember the night of 04 to 05 April 2010 for a long time to come. That particular night was indeed the arena of indecision such as has seldom been seen in the polar adventure world.
At 02:30, the satellite telephone rang: it was Tom calling at a time that was not usual for him. Jim feared the worst. Indeed, Tom told him that his thumbs were hurting really badly and that he had tried to reach Viktor Boyarski in Barneo, but without success. The two men spoke to each other for a few minutes, Tom was well ticked up in his tent but he was in awful pain. They decided to talk again one hour later.
Jim then collected all the necessary information for a possible pick up. In Barneo, Viktor told him that two MID 8's would need to set out in search of him in the place where he was (one wonders furthermore why this telephone call was made, because when one is where Tom still was - 85° 37 ' N - only the logistics at Resolute come to mind). At Resolute, Ken Borek's people said that as soon as the payment was in the account, they would make the arrangements to set off in search of the Australian.
One hour later, on the phone again, the two men agreed (but the satellite cut the conversation prematurely) that there was nothing for it but to give up.
After which, Jim continued to arrange everything with the people of Resolute and even envisaged the medication that the pilots would have to take with them in order to bring Tom some relief as quickly as possible.
At 05:30, another telephone call: Jim told Tom that, as soon as he had found a suitable site for the Twin Otter to land, they would come and get him. Tom replied that he had found one really close to his tent. Then he added: "Jim, it's so beautiful here that I can't yet leave. I'm not yet ready to go home.... I'm really sorry to have given you all that work, but I've decided to continue... "
Tom's position on 06 April: 85° 51.111 N / 77° 06.585 W. He is advancing on average by about ten kilometres per day (he has about 450 more kilometres to go). On 06 April, one of his skis broke. Fortunately, he had a spare pair. His thumbs are more than painful and extremely swollen, and he has lost all his dexterity due to the fact that some of his fingers are now also affected.