Barely out on the ice for five minutes…
Published on 15.03.2010 - The Irish North Pole 2010
The Irish trio of Falvey, O'Leary and Dowd didn't stay out on the ice for long. Dropped off near Ward Hunt on 2nd March, they had to be rescued on the 8th! Bad frostbite appears to be the cause...
Which means that the trip Pat Falvey thought was going to 'an historical and icy voyage', (according the update on 2nd March) now certainly won't be that. So, what happened? John Dowd (the least experienced of the three expedition members) had two frostbitten fingers. More specifically, he developed visible signs of frostbite on two of his fingers. As you would expect, the three adventurers discussed the situation in their tent one evening round the fire, and on 6th March, when they had only covered about fifteen kilometres on the pack-ice across terrain filled with gigantic hummocks, Falvey took the decision to call it a day and radio Ken Borek to send in a Twin Otter or DC3 to pick them up.
Also aboard the DC3 that took Falvey and his two companions out on to the ice of Cape Discovery from Resolute Bay, was Richard Weber's team (see our presentation of his expedition) although they have not abandoned their trek.
There are, of course, a number of questions that need to be asked in the light of these events. Why did Falvey not continue with Clare O'Leary after first making sure that his other companion (or is it a client?), John Dowd, was evacuated with all of the usual care? And how was it that someone embarking on an expedition of this kind, even if there were temperatures as low as minus 40ºC on this part of the coast at this time of the year, managed to be caught out so early in the piece by signs of frostbite on the ends of his fingers? After all, frostbite is the number one enemy feared by every self-respecting polar adventurer. Shouldn't the person leading the expedition take every precaution to ensure that the people he is responsible for are fully protected from this type of setback?
In any event, quite a few questions are being asked about this early withdrawal in the closed world of experienced polar guides (who are also in the process of examining the possibility of creating an association of professional guides, as is the case with mountain guides).