City to honour returning South Pole explorers

TWO polar heroes will get a warm welcome tomorrow night when they jet in to their home town a week after conquering the South Pole.

Explorer Pat Falvey and Dr Clare O’Leary, who made history as part of the first all-Irish team to trek to the South Pole, are due to touch down at Cork Airport tomorrow evening.

Dozens of family and friends are expected to greet them.

Bad weather forced the couple, along with teammates Jonathan Bradshaw and Shaun Menzies, to wait almost a week to catch a flight off the Antarctic.

A window in the weather opened on Monday allowing a Twin Otter Russian supply aircraft to land on a three-kilometre ice runway.

They were then flown to a small airfield on the western fringes of the Antarctic where a large Russian Ilyushin aircraft flew them to Punta Arenas in Chile.

“We are totally wrecked and didn’t get much sleep on the flight, but we are delighted to be on unfrozen ground,” said Mr Falvey.

He also revealed that a 20-minute shower was one of his own highlights since they reached the Pole.

And Cork City Council has also agreed to host a civic reception for Mr Falvey and Dr O’Leary.

She became the first Irish woman to walk to the South Pole when the team made history at 7.28pm last Wednesday night.

Writing on his blog, Mr Falvey said despite the risks in this stage of the journey, they are all really looking forward to returning home.

Their gruelling 1,100km journey to the Pole lasted 58 days during which they endured temperatures as low as -58C.

The expedition began on November 1 and the team travelled the equivalent of 55 marathons — on skis.

The weight of each of the team members’ sled was 150kg. They each burned about 5,000 calories every day.

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