North Pole 2011: Prince Harry Begins Polar Trek


Way back in January I posted a story about Britain’s Prince Harry possibly making a trek to the North Pole.  At the time, he was training to do so as part of a fund raising effort for the Walking with the Wounded organization, but it was unclear whether or not his military obligations, not to mention his brother’s impeding nuptials, would allow him to join the expedition. Yesterday, the team set out on their journey at last, and with Harry in tow, but the Prince won’t make it to the Pole after all.

Four of the members of the team are disabled vets who were injured in the war in Afghanistan. Two of those are amputees. The group is hoping to raise as much as $3.2 million on their trek, which will go to the Walking with the Wounded foundation, an organization the helps wounded soldiers recover and get back on their feet, both literally and figuratively. Harry serves as the Patron for the foundation.

Unfortunately, the Prince won’t be able to complete the entire journey with his companions. Instead, he’ll spend five days in the arctic with the team, and then he’ll get picked up and returned to the U.K. where he is training to be an Apache helicopter pilot. He felt so strongly about the expedition however that he wanted to join them for at least a small part of the journey.

The expedition had been delayed due to bad weather. The entire crew was in Spitsbergen last week, and were waiting for a flight to the Barneo Ice Station. The runway there was finally opened yesterday, allowing flights in for the first time this year. Now, they’ll be making the 200 mile journey by skis to the North Pole, completing a “last degree” expedition to the top of the world.

Update: Just a brief clarification on this story. It seems this isn’t a “last degree” expedition at all. The team was actually dropped at 87ºN after arriving at Barneo yesterday, which makes for a longer, more challenging journey. The 200 miles quoted above is still the proper length, but wanted to give credit where it was due. The team is actually finishing the final three degrees to the North Pole.

Kraig Becker