26 May 2005
A group of adventurers, led by Bristol graduate Tom Avery (BSc 1998), has broken the world record for reaching the North Pole on foot.
They reached the pole at 1432 BST on Tuesday ?, 36 days, 12 hours and 11 minutes after leaving Cape Columbia. They covered 423 nautical miles, over ice ridges 30ft high and in temperatures as low as -40C. Tom said: ‘We planned this thing for two years, we had this very ambitious aim, but we’ve put it together and achieved what we wanted to do. It’s been a lot of hard work, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but if feels fantastic to have completed it.’
The team also vindicated the discredited polar explorer, Commander Robert Peary, who took 37 days to reach the pole in 1909. He has been stigmatised as a fraud ever since, with sceptics questioning if this time was possible.
Tom’s team wanted to prove that it was possible, and used similar equipment to that used by Commander Peary, with replica wooden sledges pulled by Canadian Eskimo dogs.
Tom said: ‘We managed to beat his time by a matter of hours. We hope we have restored Peary’s name to its rightful place. Peary was one of the greatest explorers that ever lived.’
At the age of 29 Tom has also become the youngest Briton to walk to both the North and South Poles. His expedition to the South Pole in 2002 broke the record for the fasted on-foot expedition.
You can read an interview with Tom in the 2005 edition of Nonesuch.