Written by: Richard Talbot
The North Pole is a very special place – but it’s so remote that very few have seen with their own eyes. After flying 1.5 hours north of Resolute, NU (one of Canada’s two northern-most communities), our twin-Otter ski-plane dropped us off in the middle of what is literally a ‘polar desert’. We were over 1,200km north of the Arctic Circle, in a place with absolutely no vegetation or wildlife – let alone people – just ice, snow and a few windswept islands.
Our challenge was to navigate 100km to the Magnetic North Pole. What followed were eight days of skiing an average of six hours per day, with each of us pulling 80lbs of gear on our ‘pulk’ or sled in temperatures that never rose above -20C.
Apart from the demanding physical challenge, the mental challenge was even greater, particularly as the weather conditions deteriorated. Keeping the motivation and determination to persevere through the toughest parts was essential – and these were the times when I thought most about Carley and two words: “Always Smile!”
We were scheduled to reach the Magnetic North Pole on day 7 (May 2). During the night of May 1, the weather had deteriorated significantly. The temperature had fallen below -30C and the wind was gusting over 30km/h resulting in white-out conditions. That morning, as we were making breakfast in our tent, Scott Kress (one of our two guides) looked down and said “Hey, who’s leaving money on the floor?”
Believe it or not, lying in the middle of tent there was – a dime. How it got there, nobody knows. We were in one of the most remote places on Earth in the middle of fierce, blizzard conditions and yet that little coin changed everything. It warmed us up and put things into a whole new perspective – for it was clear that Carley was with us.
We reached the Pole at 2pm later that day. The conditions were – well, just as you might expect at the North Pole – cold, white and very windy. We couldn’t stay long – just long enough to raise the flag and sing “Oh Canada”. It was a very proud moment and I think Carley would have smiled.
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