Earlier this week the big news surrounding polar exploration was the announcement that Sir Ranulph Fiennes would be attempting a South Pole expedition in the dead of winter, something that has never been accomplished before. But it seems Fiennes isn’t the only Brit set to leave his mark on polar history next year, ultra-runner Tim Williamson has announced plans to make a solo and unsupported round-trip journey to and from the North Pole. Considered by many to be the last great polar adventure that to be completed.
Describing Tim’s adventure as a round trip to the North Pole and back simply doesn’t do it justice. He has so much more than that planned. The entire journey is expected to cover approximately 2200 miles (3540 km) beginning and ending in civilization. That means he doesn’t plan to charter a plane to fly him out to a starting point, but will instead embark on January 13, 2013 directly from Resolute Bay in Canada. Tim expect to return to Resolute just 100-120 days later, which is an incredibly fast time. Even more impressive, he plans on completing the expedition without the use of skis.
In a press release I received earlier in the day Tim is quoted as saying “The majority fail because they aren’t built for walking long distances. This is the thing I’m specially built for. The North Pole holds a great amount of wonder to me, and as an ultrarunner, it is the ultimate challenge.”
For anyone who understand the logistics of travel in the Arctic and the herculean task of getting to the North Pole, this will be one epic journey to watch unfold. Traveling across the ice and snow without skis, while dragging all of his gear, food and supplies behind him on a sledge is not going to be easy, even for an endurance athlete. Add to the fact that he’s going in the dead of winter, when there is no daylight, and you begin to get a sense of challenges that Tim will face. But the extreme cold at that time of the year will also help to keep the pack ice in place and he could possibly face fewer open leads of water along the way.
I’ve said more than once in the past few years that the days of traveling to the North Pole on foot may be coming to an end soon. Climate change is making that a very dicey proposition to say the least. It’ll be interesting to see an ultra-fit and fast runner give it a go early next year, as Tim’s approach is certainly a unique one. I’d hasten to bet he’s doing it on a budget that is fraction of what Sir Ran is using to go to the South Pole and back. One thing is for sure, 2013 is going to be an interesting year for polar explorers.
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