Irish trio all set for epic assault on the North Pole

SOUTH POLE: check. Everest: check. Highest peaks on seven continents: check.

Their list of achievements is fairly impressive – and now they are poised to mount an epic trek to the top of the world.

Irish adventurers Pat Falvey, 52, and Clare O’Leary, 35, from Cork, hope to begin their assault on the North Pole tomorrow with team-mate John Dowd, 55, from Co Kerry.

They are bidding to become the first Irish team to walk unaided to the pole.

They were waiting in Yellowknife in northern Canada last night for a break in the weather to allow them fly to Resolute in the northern territories. From there, they face another 600 kilometre flight to their remote starting point at the Northern Passage.

The team, which has packed 1.3 million calories of food, hopes to get on the ice fields tomorrow to begin its epic 60-day trek.

“It is frustrating waiting. We have been here in training for the last two weeks. Our sleds are packed but we just have to wait. We are physically well and mentally well,” Falvey said last night from an aircraft hangar at an airfield in Yellowknife.

The trio know each other well and have between them conquered Everest, from the northern and southern faces, the south pole, and the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

On this trip they will endure howling gales and temperatures which can plummet to minus 60ºC as they walk, ski and swim 780km over ice to the pole.

It is the equivalent of running between 60 and 90 consecutive marathons.

Fighting exhaustion and frostbite, they will each haul 100 kilogram sleds packed with their food, stoves, tents, equipment and medical gear.

Each team member will have to consume at least 9,000 calories a day – more than four times the average – just to stay alive.

“A lot of people call these places hostile. For us, it’s about the beauty – standing where so few humans have stood before,” Pat said.

“All we can do is give it our best shot. We know we can do it,” Pat said.

“But we can’t contend with the God factor. We just to have to pray that the gods are with us. Our families are praying for us. I mean, we’re out here on the ice focused on the job. But those at home, they are the people worried about us. We go with Shackleton’s motto: Better a live donkey than a dead lion.

“This is not a do-or-die adventure. This is within our capacity”, he said adding they will do it with safety in mind.



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