There may not be any explorers traveling to the Geographic North Pole this spring but that doesn’t mean the Arctic will be completely empty. A British adventurer will set out today on a solo and unsupported journey across the frozen expanse in an effort to raise funds for charity. But rather than skiing to the top of the world he will travel to the Magnetic North Pole (MNP) instead.
Explorer Gavin Bate is no stranger to challenging adventures. In the past he has made a solo crossing of the Sahara Desert and climbed to the summit of Everest. He has even served as a mountain guide and adventure travel writer. But this spring he may be setting out on his most challenging expedition yet, a 340-mile trek into the arctic that will end at the MNP.
As the name implies, the Magnetic North Pole is the point on our planet at which the needle of a compass points. Unlike the Geographic North Pole, which is located at 90°N, the MNP actually moves over time and falls at a point much further south. The location that Bate is actually traveling to is at 78° 35’N, 104°11’W, which is where the pole was located in 1996, when the first Polar Race took place.
With the spirit of that race in mind, Gavin is inviting those of us who will follow his adventure to race him to the Pole. He is hoping to raise as much as £22,000 (about $33,500) for his own Moving Mountains Trust, an organization dedicated to sustainable development projects in Kenya, Tanzania, Borneo and Nepal. Each £1 ($1.50) will represent a distance of 25 meters and the hope is that the donations will total the full distance of his journey long before he actually reaches the MNP himself.
While on the surface they seem very similar, an expedition to the Arctic presents some very different challenges over one to the Antarctic. For instance, while a journey to the South Pole takes place over solid ground, in the Arctic explorers are actually trekking across a frozen ocean. Occasionally they’ll come upon large open areas of water that have to be either navigated around or crossed by swimming. And while surface conditions can be difficult in the Antarctic, they are nothing compared to the massive rubble fields that Arctic explorers face. Add in the threat of being stalked by polar bears and you start to understand just how different the two environments really are.
Bate will face all of those challenges and more as he embarks on this journey. Follow along with his progress at RaceMeToThePole.com.