There are four ‘North Poles.’ The spot on the Earth’s surface toward which all magnetic compasses point is the Magnetic North Pole, the point located directly above Earth’s geographic axis is the Geographic Pole, the spot which relates to the Earth’s magnetic axis is the Geomagnetic Pole and the northernmost point in the Arctic Ocean at a distance farthest from any land mass is the Pole of Inaccessibility, or the Arctic Pole.
The Pole of Inaccessibility is constantly shifting due to the pack ice – right now it is situated at 85°15‘N 176°09’E. There have been expeditions to the Pole of Inaccessibility before; 1927 saw Hubert Wilkins fly over it, 1968 saw Sir Wally Herbert reach it by dog sled, but no man, or woman has walked there.
Polar Jim has made two attempts; in 2003 he was scuppered by contracting Necrotising Fasciitis (a flesh eating disease) of his left ankle before he departed, and in 2006 he fell into a lead (a fracture of water in the sea ice) which forced him to stop the expedition.
In February 2015, Polar Jim and his team will challenge the theory of ‘third time lucky’ and set off from Ellef Rignes Island in Canada on an 80 day trek to the Arctic Pole, a mere 800 miles away. Jim has split the 800 mile journey into four sections and is selecting 6 people to accompany him on each leg of his journey. He describes this quest as ‘Modern-day Exploration – Ordinary People Taking the Pulse of the Planet.’ I am not sure if I can, or should be described as ‘ordinary’ but I am putting my hat into the ‘training to be an arctic explorer ring’.
For me this expedition is not about being part of a world first, although that would look great on my CV. This expedition will allow me to be part of a team who will gather crucial data sets from the Arctic, to evidence how the Arctic (the thermometer of the earth) is responding to Climate Change.
We will monitor the Arctic sea ice, we will survey polar bear movements, we will report back on the dynamics of sea ice, take ice cores and collect ground truth data which will be used in combination with NASA’s satellite images for the Arctic. These scientific measurements will be fed into the Royal Geographical Society, the MET Office, National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute, The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and The Norwegian Polar Institute. This expedition will lead to an up to date record of the Arctic region and how it is responding to the ever increasing demands of us, the human race.