AN EXPLORER from South Warwickshire is hoping his efforts to reach the North Pole prove worthwhile.
Mark Wood successfully led the three man expedition, which also included two serving soldiers, Paul Vicary and Mark Langridge, to the pole following a gruelling 13 day trek. The expedition’s patron, legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, had described the expedition as the “toughest journey on the planet”.
The Race Against Time North Pole 16 expedition set out to highlight the threat of global warming – and it was something the team experienced first hand during their 120 nautical mile journey from the Canadian Arctic Coast to the pole.
Ironically, a series of climate change challenges had threatened to derail the expedition before it even started. Arctic sea ice levels hit a record low in January and February proving to be the hottest month in recorded history. It forced the team to change its planned route following weeks of delays, and also its time schedule.
And while on the ice the team, which skied for eight hours a day, encountered what they described as strange, bizarre and warmer than usual conditions.
The challenge brought them face to face with huge ice shelves which moved, creaked, cracked, and detached under their feet, huge expanses of melted ice too large to swim across, and ice obstacles as big as cars.
Fortunately they did not meet the owner of the huge polar bear prints they came across.
They managed to cross one of the most unforgiving areas on the planet in what could be the last mission of its kind by an expedition owing to the rapidly changing conditions.
Staffordshire businessman Mark Tweddle, the expedition’s main sponsor, confirmed all were very tired but in good health.
He told The Observer: “The purpose of this expedition was to highlight the importance of the impact that climate change is having on our planet, and no-one could have imaged the complexities the team would encounter in achieving this goal.”
Thirty-eight year-old Ettington resident Mark and the team’s next step will be to create a documentary to help educate on the real threat posed by global warming.
Dr Stephan Harrison, the Government’s climate change advisor, said: “We know that Arctic sea ice has recently experienced its lowest maximum winter extent in satellite record, further proof that the region is undergoing drastic and rapid change.”
* MARK Wood will be talking about the expedition on home soil on June 17.
He will give a talk about the Race Against Time expedition at the Ettington Chase Hotel.
The event is being held in support of the Ettington Community First Responders.
Tickets cost £8. Visit www.ettingtoncfr.org.uk for tickets and more information.