Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The North Pole 2010

A week ago I was flying north over the Franklin mountain range, over this frozen landscape of Elsmere island thinking of all those mountains down there that will never be climbed, probably never. I didn’t imagine that I would be coming back a week later. However, I always knew that there always was a possibility that if something went wrong this would be the only way out.

Now coming back from the ice my curiosity of adventure on the North Pole was somewhat eased, having only spent five nights on the ice. The curious longing for this kind of adventure has always been an appeal to experience something like what the old explores to the North Pole would have experienced. In my eyes they are the real adventures. However, I am sure that if we had a rerun at expedition, we would make a lot of changes.

However I am sorry for bringing this expedition to an end and sorry to Clare and Pat and all the work that they and their home teams had put in. It has been a amazing experience for me I had the opportunity to travel to two territory’s, Nunavut, North West, and one Provinces Ontario, and stay over night at the most northern weather station (Eureka) in the Country. Here we met scientists, who are now worried about the noticeable changes that are taking place in the northern territories. This winter is the warmest in record right across Canada showing ten to fifteen degrees warmer.

But for whatever reason people go there whether its ego, adventure, personal challenge, or curiosity, getting to the North Pole is a mammoth challenge. The North has been a pervasive influence on our world and will probably play a major role in our future. I believe that the North will shape our world the way few of us will ever in our lives have the chance to see.Leaving the future of this magical terrain in the hands of a few world politicians is not the answer; rather they should be a group of top scientist from each country making recommendations to these leaders.

The update on my fingers is that they will make a full recovery eventually. I would like to acknowledge IHI Bupa for their quick response in dealing with my situation and I would highly recommend them for future adventures.

I would like to thank my wife Mary for been so patient with me and my home team, daughters Rebecca, Imelda and son Gabriel, who did a fine job on my blog. Also Cathal Cudden for setting up the blog.

And finally thanks to all of you for logging in, John.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I regret to inform the blog that the Irish team have been evacuated from the ice. John has formed painful frost bite on two to three fingers in his left hand, this can occur due to many factors associated with being in -40 degrees conditions. It is conformed that the team left the ice last night Irish time. The team are all well and John is in good spirits, I look forward to talking to him very soon to give another update. Rebecca Dowd

Saturday, March 6, 2010


From Satellite phone John has informed the teams location as 830 Degrees, 13.51 North
+ 740 Degrees, 4.53 West. The temperature is a very cold -36 degrees.
Communications are poor due to equipment not liking the cold weather.
Other than that all the team is well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


We were lucky with the weather on Tuesday and were dropped off by plane to the northerest landmass point. We have begun!
Our position at the moment is 8307 North and 7408 West.
The temperature is -38 degrees and all is well.
Thank you for all the support that has been passed on through my family


Stating our agreement with the polar bear before the team sets off…!
I have always had great interest and respect for these magnificent animals and hope to see them on the expedition- in a non-confronted way!
The polar bear is a bear native largely within the Arctic circle encompassing the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's largest land carnivore and also the largest bear, an adult male weighs around 350–680 kg (770–1,500 lb), while an adult female is about half that size. Hunting for seals make up most of its diet. Since 2008, the polar bear has been classified as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of Arctic indigenous peoples, and the hunting of polar bears still remains important in their cultures.
It has been proven that the effects of global warming pose the most significant threat to the polar bear, primarily because the melting of its sea ice habitat reduces its ability to find sufficient food.
In preparing for this expedition we had to gain shotgun experience, so as to protect ourselves in the case of an attack, as starving polar bears pose a significant treat to the expedition.

Husky Dog in Resolute Bay

Monday, March 1, 2010

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay is a small Inuit hamlet on Cornwallis Island in Nunavut, Canada. It is also one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, with an average yearly temperature of −16.4 °C (2.5 °F).

Resolute Bay has a population of over 250 people. On its Barrow Strait they only get supplies once a year when the sea opens up for ships and the rest is by air. We are now 5 hours behind time at home, compared to 7hrs in Yellowknife. The nearer we get to the Pole the closer we get to central London time.

To date there are only 3 teams in the ice, we had hoped to fly today however the flight was cancelled due to bad fog and weather conditions.

So we now hope that we will leave Cornwallis Island tomorrow the 2nd March on our final flight on a twin otter air craft for a 5hr flight to Ward Hunt. We will be sharing this flight with an Italian soloist Micheal Pontrandalfo; we will be the forth team to get away.

The conditions at Ward Hunt are not ideal this year but we hope that this will change and improve.

Ward Hunt Island is a small, uninhabited island in the Arctic Ocean, off the north coast of Ellesmere Island. Its northern cape is one of the northernmost elements of land in Canada. It is located 450 miles from the Pole.The island is 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long, east to west, and 3 km (1.9 mi) wide.

We have made the decision on the tent we are going to use, the Hillbourg tent which is very easy to construct.

So all our gear is on the plane tonight, so fingers crossed that in the morning, we’ll soar closer to the Pole and start the expedition.

Playing with the moon in Resolute Bay

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Resolute Bay

Our 3 member Irish team arrived in Resolute after a comfortable flight of 5 hours in which we shared the Dash8 aircraft flight with our friend Richard and his 4-member team and luggage.

We are now 900 miles nearer the pole

It is from here that all teams will depart for the top of Ward Hunt Island, which is the starting point for the North pole.

There are 10 adventures including the three Irish here now with more on the way. Some were held up with flight delays like ourselves.

At the moment two English persons Dan and Amelia are on the ice, they were flown out yesterday. This group is the first on the ice and I wish them well.

We are hearing reports that conditions are not perfect out there due to factors such as the full moon and pressure from tides. However it is believed and hoped that things will settle down in a few days.

We are now a few days behind on our schedule; this may be a good thing, we will have to wait and see and hope that things will settle down in the ice for us to begin.

The temperature here at the moment is -35, brrrrr.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hi again we where supposed to be off to Resolute Bay on the morning of the Wednesday the 24th February, but unfortunately due to a snow storm in Resolute Bay our flight was cancelled.

All loaded up with nowhere to go!

This is Matt Mossman taking us to the airport but flight canceled due to snow snowstorm,

we hope to get going in the next morning.

This is the team’s wings to get to Resolute Bay.

The Dornia Dash 8 aircraft can seat 18 people and is owed by Summit Air, this will be the same air craft that will bring us our food drop.

The distance from Yellowknife to Resolute Bay is 900 miles and a 4 and a half hours flight.

The team now have planned to stay in Resolute Bay for 3 days, a little less than we planed originally.

From here we are now north of the Arctic Circle and the temperatures are much colder.

Yellowknife is 2,000miles from the pole with this flight we will be 760miles nearer!

We now say goodbye to the friends we have met here, our landlady Tessa and the kindness of so many people.

Yellowknife is where you come for real adventure so many things to do and it will forever be in my mind.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winding up in Yellowknife

We are now winding up in Yellowknife after an intensive few days training and organising. My skiing skills have improved some what - not falling as often! We took every opportunity that came our way to pract
ice and would even ski up to shop doors.

Dry suit training in some real cold waters

We had hoped that the temperature would get lower, however so far it stayed around minus 13.

Our Friend Richard Webber
We have met some great people here and have heard many stories about Yellowknife and Slave Lakes history- some very sad and some joyous stories. There is a great story that Yellowknife is the place where a native Indian man first met the white man moving north, almost 70 ye
ars ago, this Indian man still lives just outside the town and is said to be very proud to tell the tale today.
The Russians too were in on the action, their space station came down on a iced Slave Lake some years ago!

We are due to fly north on Wednesday to Resolute Bay for a few days. Temperatures will be a lot lower there. Hopefully on the first of March we will then fly toward Hunt Island and set off.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our food has arrived and we are now in the process of preparing it all for the trip. We send over 70% of food from Ireland and the remainder was sourced from Richard who brought it along from Ottawa and was specially prepared by his team over there. Now we are looking for a space where we can sort if all out!

Tessa our landlady recommended Matt Mossman, the managing director of Deton Cho Logistics as the man to see about a dog.......he has kindly let us use his warehouse and even his truck for a few days.

Matt has family connections in Ireland by the name of O Ryan. Matt is also responsible for putting in the ice roads for the diamond mines and is now part of this expedition to the North Pole_ just want to give thanks for his support.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Settling into Yellowknife trying to get my skiing into shape, as this will essential to reserve energy levels and make the task at hand abit easier!
The temperature here at the moment is -11, this is quite unusual as the average temperature for this time of year should be at least -40.

Yellowknife is the capital of the Northwest Territories in Canada and has a population of 18,000. Yellowknife is just east of Slave Lake where they are now trying to construct apart of the famous Tibbitt to Contway Winter Road to service the mines. However they are having difficulty due to the high temperatures. This road is the worlds longest heavy haul ice road. 87% of the road is built over frozen lakes, Slave Lake is 260 miles long. When they overcome the temperature difficulty 4,000 fuel trucks will be transported to the diamond mines up north.

At the moment we are waiting for the rest of our food to arrive...hopefully by the weekend. We plan to have our food supply sorted by the end of next week. As we will then fly north by charter plane to Resolut Bay.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Some tyre training on top of Tarmons
this is beneficial for sled towing prep
5th February

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Training and preparation for the Pole

Finally after the bones of two years planning and two trips to Canada training, we are on our way. Through the support of my wife and family I have been most fortunate to partake in this once in a lifetime opportunity. On Sunday the 5th February we depart for Yellowknife, in northern Canada for two weeks training. This is to double check equipment and the likes. From there we will fly further north to Resolate Bay for another week for training and preparing. It will be from there that we will be flown in to the northern most point, to set off on the expedition to the North Pole.

Image 1: Training with the dry suit on Waterville Lake. This will be used on many occasions on route to the Pole.

Previous training has included working alongside Richard Webber in Canada. Richard Webber is a world-renowned Canadian cross country skier, as well as being the most experienced North Pole explorer in the world today. Richard has more than 45 arctic expeditions to his name and is the only person to have completed six full North Pole expeditions in history. One the two training sessions that we carried out with Richard has given me some confidence and helped me to prepare for what is expected through his guidance and depth of knowledge.

With all that in mind a quote from Reinold Messner on his attempt at the North Pole, has put it into another perspective “tracking to the North Pole was ten times more difficult than climbing Everest. This has and can scare the s*** out of me, coming from a man that has climbed all the 14,000-meter peaks in the world without oxygen !

Image 2: On the capable hands of Brendan O'Shea Jr and Brendan Mangan (and of course Brendan O'Shea Snr on camera). Shooting practice - polar bear attacks are a very real threat as you can meet them almost all the way to the pole.

Pat Falvey, our team leader has put hours upon hours of time into this trip putting all the necessary logistics together. Doing so for an expedition like this is a nightmare. Clare is in charge of getting all the food organised and transported to Yellowknife. We will sort all this food out when we will arrive there. All must be done within the two weeks and then shipped north to Resolute bay for departure to Ward Hunt, and the start of the expedition. All this must be done while we undertake yet more training of course! We must still decide on which tent we will use while on the ice, and will have to decide on this before we head for Resolute Bay.

Image 3: This is the Webber tent which we were training with in Resolute bay last year. We still haven't decided which one we will use the (The Webber or the Hilleberg).

After all this packing and preparation I'm looking forward to getting started on what will be the most challenging expedition I have ever undertaken.

This blog will be updated regularly. I will send details of our progress to my family through the satellite phone, where they will post updates on this blog. I also hope to forward pictures during the expedition, so keep checking back for more updates!