St Albans dad embarks on first stage of North Pole expedition today

Ed Suttie before he sets off to the North Pole

Ed Suttie before he sets off to the North Pole - Credit: Archant

Today a St Albans dad-of-three embarks on an epic journey to the North Pole - the culmination of six months intensive training and fundraising.

Ed Suttie's North Pole mission

Ed Suttie's North Pole mission - Credit: Archant

Ed Suttie, 49, of Verulam Road, will be travelling 230km over 21 days, experiencing extreme temperatures of between -20 to -30 degrees C, evading grumpy polar bears and navigating moving sea ice in the course of his journey.

He will be part of a six-man team skiing and walking from a position two degrees south of the North Pole for Cancer Research, Rennie Grove Hospice Care, Earthworks and the UK Heritage Trust.

The Herts Advertiser caught up with the polar explorer in the final days before his life-changing expedition to wish him well and find out how he was feeling.

Ed, who has been supported in his preparations by wife Clare and children Madeleine, Alex and James, revealed: “I am very nervous. It’s weird, these last few days have been like being in limbo. I’m not training as much now to avoid being injured, and so I’m just full of excitement, apprehension and nervousness.

Ed Suttie's North Pole mission

Ed Suttie's North Pole mission - Credit: Archant

“I’m just really looking forward to getting going. After a couple of days we should start to operate smoothly as a team and get into our rhythm.”

After first flying out to Oslo, Ed and his team will travel to Svarlbard in the Arctic Ocean, where they will spend three days acclimatising, practicing putting up their tents and checking through their equipment. From there it’s a journey by Russian aircraft and helicopter to their start position at 88 degrees north.

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“We will have to be constantly readjusting our navigation because of the moving ice, and the surface conditions can also change between smooth and flat to broken rubble and pressure ridges.”

He explained that athough it is rare to see polar bears so far north, it is certainly possible, and as these savage beasts will just be coming out of hibernation they will be grumpy and hungry, so the team will also have to be alert to this additional danger.

Ice Trek

Ice Trek - Credit: Archant

But with temperatures plunging well below zero, Ed has no doubt what will be the greatest hardship he will be facing: “The biggest challenge will be managing the cold. I’m physically ready as you can only train so much, but it will be a mental challenge as well. It’s almost like a reality TV programme, as I’ll be isolated with four strangers I’ve only met once, even though we all have a common interest.”

His wife Clare, aka the Polar PA, said this week: “I just want Ed to stay safe and come back in one piece; I know he’d like to see a polar bear but I hope it will be from some miles away, and I’m looking forward to life as an ex-Polar PA! But me and the children are very proud and can’t wait to see him on top of the world.

“Thanks again to everyone for their support. It’s really helped. I’m amazed how much fundraising and charity work goes on in St Albans.”

Ed, who works for sustainability firm BRE, has self-funded the trek with support from the local community, and having smashed his original target of £30,000 is fast approaching a revised figure of £45K.

You can still donate to his ice trek challenge, click here.