The First Difficulties Crop Up

Published on 30.03.2008 - North Pole Speed Record

Speed Record Attempt

Speed Record Attempt

© International Polar Foundation

Ben Saunders has been on the ice since Wednesday 26 March. He's hoping to get to the pole in less than 30 days, solo and unaided.

Of course, as is always the case when an expedition tries to reach the North Pole from this particular side of the Arctic Ocean, the early parts are difficult. Ben is faced with gigantic compression zones and has to get over the accumulated ice blocks in the gentlest manner as possible. These ice blocks can vary between the size of a fridge and that of a car.

With increased experience, it is now well known that ice folds over itself as it approaches the coast and that it piles up in such a way as to form insurmountable accumulations of ice.

On 29 March Ben had a difficult decision to make. After leaving his camp during the night, he suddenly realised that he had forgotten his revolver, which was still attached to the canvas of his sledge. What was he to do? Turn around and lose some invaluable time (don't forget that he's trying to break the speed record) or continue unarmed? For a moment, Ben considered the option of continuing his adventure unarmed but he quickly pulled himself together and decided to retrace his steps in order to fetch the revolver from where he had left it!

This little delay prevented him from passing Point 83°30' North today, which had been his target.

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