‘I’m on top of the world!’ - North Pole triumph for St Albans adventurer Ed Suttie
PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 May 2016
Mission accomplished, explorer Ed Suttie is back in St Albans after completing his epic trek to the North Pole.
The polar adventurer reported reaching the top of the world after a 230km expedition on his blog: “At 17:30 on 21 April 2016 we reached the geographical North Pole. An incredible journey over the frozen Arctic Ocean to a spot where every direction is south and you can walk around the world in a few seconds. It has been an experience that will live with me forever.
“What an utterly overwhelming feeling of joy and relief at having reached our goal. You have to be quick though, the ice we are standing on is drifting at around 100m an hour so we followed the Pole for a while before camping nearby.”
The Herts Advertiser caught up with Ed on Tuesday after he returned to his home in Verulam Road, and found him surprisingly alert despite his exhausting journey, albeit 5kg lighter after all of his exertions.
“I’m feeling quite chipper actually! I got back on Monday night after spending a few days decompressing and acclimatising at Svarlbard, and had my first night of darkness in four weeks.
“It was the most incredible experience. It really is the most staggering environment and quite hard to describe. The whole of the Arctic ice is the size of Europe, which is a mindblowing thought, especially as there were only about 100 people there at this one time. It was as if it was another planet, it’s just hard to imagine there are seven billion other people elsewhere in the world.”
The team completed between 12 and 19km a day, depending on the terrain, and Ed explained: “It is a really free and open space, which allows you to cogitate and think.
“We were with one of the best guides in the world, but there is still an odd sense of vulnerability in being in the middle of nowhere, with your only lifelines your fuel for the store, the battery for the radio and the kit you rely on. The kit was brilliant, but it’s very hard to do anything in mittens!”
The beginning of the expedition had been plagued by delays when the ice runway at Barneo cracked twice, and needed to be rebuilt a third time: “There was so much uncertainty when we arrived, and the first days were very tough with what seemed like a terminal wait to set off. At times we thought it wasn’t going to happen, as this was the longest delay for an expedition in 15 years.
“There is a very short window in April before the summer cycle starts and the ice begins to break up, during which time they bring in the runway, and it actually closed yesterday (Monday).
“We spent the time acclimatising to the cold - it was -15C at Svarlbard but when you’re in Barneo it was closer to -40C, so there was a big decrease.”
Once the team finally set off on April 13, it took them just eight days to travel to the Pole.
“The physical side was difficult, as you had to get into a routine, work out the structure of the day, putting the camp up and so on, but we had a really great team.
“They were absolute stars, and I think we’ll all be friends for life, which is amazing considering our totally different backgrounds. But we all had the same objective, and we all looked out for each other.”
Now comfortably back home, Ed is enjoying spending time with wife Clare and children Madeleine, Alex and James, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of another extreme adventure in the future.
“I would probably do something like this again, not necessarily polar, but never say never.”
Ed, 49, embarked on his mission in aid of Cancer Research, Rennie Grove Hospice Care, Earthworks and the UK Heritage Trust.
He has now raised about £46K, but is planning to give talks to schools and businesses in the hope of reaching a new target of £50,000.
You can still donate to his ice trek challenge here.