North Pole 2008: Equipment Failure Ends Ben’s Bid

Recent updates to Ben Saunder’s Online Journal indicate that over the weekend he was plucked from the ice following the failure of his ski equipment.

According to this story over at the bolts that secured Ben’s boots to his skis sheered off, and the equipment is not repairable while on the ice. The breakdown is blamed on the incredibly demanding conditions that Ben has been experiencing on his journey, and the fact that he was moving along at very high speeds.

Ben set out a week and a half ago to attempt a new speed record to the North Pole. He was going solo and unsupported, so his ultralight approach meant that it was impossible for him to continue. During his eight days on the ice, he managed to cover more than 60 nautical miles, which is an amazing distance considering his starting local at Ward Hunt Island and the conditions of the terrain.

A helicopter retrieved Ben last Friday and he was soon back at Resolute Bay and preparing for his journey home to the U.K. He joins Hannah McKeand who also had to abandon her solo, unsupported journey to the Pole due to injury. With these two polar explorers now off the ice, we’re left with no major North Pole expeditions this season. There will be a number of people making “last degree” treks to the Pole, but nothing as big as Ben and Hannah were attempting. Hannah has already announced she’ll give it another go next year, but it’s a bit early to know if Ben will do the same. I have a hunch we haven’t heard the last of Ben Saunders however.

Kraig Becker

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