North Pole 2008: Ben Is On His Way!

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After a few days delay in Eureka Station, Ben Saunders has finally officially set off on his North Pole expedition. He is attempting to reach 90º North by going solo and unsupported from the Canadian side, and hopes to set a new speed record in the process. The only other person making that attempt was Hannah McKeand but she had the misfortune of falling and injuring herself last week, and has since been plucked from the ice. That means Ben will have 5.4 million square miles of land all to himself.

Ben’s journey got off to a rocky start a few days back when the plane delivering him to Ward Hunt Island stopped at Eureka to refuel, and ended up grounded thanks to a mechanical issue. Ben made the most of his stay by resting up and mentally preparing for the long expedition ahead. But as he noted in this dispatch, sitting and waiting brings it’s own brand of tension.

Now he’s officially on the ice and making his way North however, and his early reports indicate that it’s slow going out there. The route is littered with intimidating pressure ridges and temperatures at night routinely drop to -40º C/F. But still, Ben says that he is enjoying his trek thus far, and he’s happy to finally be underway.

In today’s dispatch he notes that he received a very inspiring note from Pen Hadow, who is the only person to ever go solo and unsupported to the Pole from the Canadian side. Pen told Ben that he should “make every stride count” which sounds like good advice to anyone, either on a polar expedition, a mountain climb, or simply going through every day life. Make Every Stride Count!

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