The Last Pole expedition, running from February to June 2016, combines an unprecedented polar journey with a crucial scientific mission. Team members will measure the way in which sea ice is breaking up – something which we know very little about.
It will be led by Jim McNeill, one of the world’s most experienced and respected explorers, who is recruiting ordinary people for the 800 mile (1,280 km) challenge: a quest to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility – a world first.
The expedition is the latest flagship of the Ice Warrior project and will reach the centre of the Arctic Ocean.
Jim said, “It is common knowledge that the Arctic sea-ice is melting, but it is not yet known exactly what this will mean for our future. For that reason, scientists are trying to understand the rate of melting and how long it will be before the sea-ice disappears completely.
“The reflective nature of the ice means that it insulates itself against the heat of the sun’s rays. As it melts and more of the ocean’s surface becomes covered by water, which absorbs more heat, the ocean warms ever more. This multiplier effect is something that scientists are struggling to measure.
“To understand that, we must first understand how sea-ice melts and breaks up – something about which very little is known.
“We will be measuring sea-ice parameters all the way to the centre of the Arctic Ocean, and will bring back data that will prove crucial to our understanding of this vulnerable region.
“The deadline for applications is Monday June 1, so anyone wanting to get involved will have to be quick!”
Applicants will be invited to a selection weekend on June 26-28 or July 24-26 at a location that will be revealed late to test participants’ organisational skills. Successful candidates will then undergo comprehensive and intensive UK and Arctic training.
The pioneering expedition will make use of new technologies such as the hybrid kayak-sledge QAJAQ, which was designed by Jim himself. It will serve as a vessel on ice, sea ice and water and double as a survival pod.
Former fireman Jim McNeill said, “We want to recruit ordinary men and women on this epic expedition, to show that most people have the ‘right stuff’. This is one of the biggest, boldest and most exciting expeditions of our time, and harks back to the golden age of polar exploration, when there were no experts.
“I want 28 people in four teams of seven who will commit to a 20 day period on ice; aged 18-80, from all walks of life and who want to make history and a crucial contribution to science.
Jim, who is 54 and has over 30 years of polar expedition experience, is passionate about opening up the Arctic to those willing to participate. “People don’t need to be super fit. We can train people’s bodies but it is mental attributes that make successful polar explorers. Maturity, in the truest sense of the word, will help but what is essential is that people are excellent team players.”
Participants are required to have the characteristics and drive to fundraise £20,000 to pay for the trip – making it available to anyone. The expedition will be split into four legs, each lasting 20 days.
If you’d like to apply to be selected for the expedition, please visit www.lastpole.co.uk. For information about Jim McNeill visit www.ice-warrior.com . The expedition is being promoted on Twitter with the hashtag #LastPole and participants can register their interest by texting ‘ICE’ to 66777.