St Albans polar explorer still waiting to set off on final trek to North Pole

Ed Suttie preparing for his trek to the North Pole

Ed Suttie preparing for his trek to the North Pole - Credit: Archant

Polar adventurer Ed Suttie is still waiting to leave the last outpost of civilisation to embark on the final stretch of his epic journey to the North Pole.

The distance to the North Pole from Svalbard

The distance to the North Pole from Svalbard - Credit: Archant

Ed, 49, of Verulam Road, will be travelling 230km over the next few weeks in aid of Cancer Research, Rennie Grove Hospice Care, Earthworks and the UK Heritage Trust.

But his mission has been delayed because the ice runway cracked at Barneo Ice Camp, where Ed’s team are due to fly into before starting their trek, and has proved impossible to repair.

The Russians who run the camp are now working on building an entirely new runway, and this meant flying in a new suitable piece of ice from Russia and dropping it from a plane onto the ice to rebuild the runway and the camp.

The first two runway sites proved too fragile and so a third site has been identified 27km away, but the ongoing work has caused substantial delays for the team.

Ed said: “Realistically we are many days away from departure. We wish the Russians speed and strength in their endeavours and patiently wait for more news. Meanwhile we remain positive and keep active.

“There are climatic perturbations but I feel we are directly witnessing the impact of climate change on the high Arctic. The general trends for ice coverage and ice volume over the last 30 years are a decline.

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“This is incredibly frustrating for everyone and all we can do is wait. We need to take this information in and stay fit and focused, ready for our new start date.

“It’s heartening to see supportive messages from home on Facebook and Twitter, and I send everyone best wishes and assure you all of our determination to make it to the currently elusive North Pole.”

For the last week Ed has been based at Svalbard, in the Arctic Ocean, working with his team on the final preparations for the mission, including sorting their food supplies: boxes of dried meals, noodles, porridge, chocolate, nuts, cheese and butter.

Ed is making live updates to his blog, and said last week: “I am as ready as I’ll ever be. Took a trip on skidoos to an ice cave on Longyearbyen glacier to distract my mind for a few hours from the endless over-thinking, repacking and nervous tension. Really looking forward to getting going.”

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