Montane Supported Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition Under way
An all-female team of explorers – lead by ex-Team Montane Athlete – intend to ski to the Geographic North Pole in a bid to raise environmental, political and social awareness.
Lead by veteran polar explorer and ex-Team Montane Sponsored Athlete Felicity Ashton MBE, the Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition is an all-female team from all around the globe aiming to reach the Geographic North Pole by ski. If successful, many of the team will be the first of their country to reach it, regardless of gender.
In 2012 Ashton became the first person in the world to ski across Antarctica totally unsupported. She traveled totally alone, with no assistance (kites, dogs, machines etc), over 1744km, completing this incredible feat in 59 days.
The team will spend 10 days attempting to ski roughly 100km across the treacherous terrain of the Arctic Ocean’s ice pack to reach the Geographic North Pole. They will be totally self-sufficient throughout their voyage; sleeping in tents on the ice when not skiing, and hauling their food, supplies, and equipment behind them in sleds called ‘pulks’. In doing so, they will endure incredible hardship, asides from physical and mental exhaustion; -50 degree temperatures, ice crevasses large enough to lose buildings and even polar bears.
‘We want to send a strong and positive message about gender equality and the need for greater cultural understanding,’ says expedition leader Felicity Aston MBE. ‘The world is facing global problems – such as climate change – that can only be tackled with global solutions. That requires everyone talking to each other more.’
After two years of training (including expeditions to Iceland and Oman), the Euro-Arabian team departed the remote Arctic archipelago of Svlabard in the early hours of 15th April. They then flew to ‘Barneo’, the floating ice station, from where they commenced their expedition in earnest.
After landing at 0600 the team got straight to business and skied the first 10 km of their journey to the North Pole despite not sleeping the previous night. Tents were pitched around 2000 by an exhausted but very proud team on the sea ice. The ice they are moving on is not fixed and constantly drifts. During pitching the team moved exactly sideways to their destination.
The weather is beautiful up on the Arctic sea ice, and the temperature -38 degrees.
The Team, whilst too exhausted for photographs on what is an understandably tough first day, said that despite 36hrs awake it has been; ‘… a very good first day.’
Alongside raising awareness of environmental and social concerns, the team will also be conducting two important science experiments and sharing their experiences live from the ice with schools via social media. Visit the expedition website www.euroarabianexpedition.com for more information.
Natasa (right) confidently rocking her Deep Heat jacket in -20
We are proud to have supported this expedition with highly specialised cold-weather polar clothing that is uncompromisingly well suited to the harsh environment they are operating in.