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Things are not 'all white' in the North Pole

Pen Hadow is famous for being the first solo explorer to travel from Canada to the North Pole in 2003 on his third attempt.

On the 20th November, the Fiennes Theatre was packed with a large audience eagerly awaiting his presentation.

After Georgie's excellent introduction, Pen's lecture started off with a brief history of Captain Scott's doomed mission to the South Pole. As a strange coincidence, Pen was brought up by Captain Scott's son's nanny, Enid.

I was interested to hear about the challenges of solo Arctic exploration: mental and physical stress, -35 degrees Celsius temperatures, tent cooking, polar bears; and the changes in ways of crossing the sea ice and water for exploration as global warming is shrinking the sea ice area. Hilariously, he talked about how he anthropomorphised (named and gave characters to) his essential expedition kit such as his blonde snowbrush, who is known as 'Mavis' to Pen!

Last month, Pen presented to the United Nations - following years of research into sea ice ecosystems, his main mission now is to make the Arctic an international marine reserve for its extraordinary wildlife, including apex predators such as the endangered bowhead whales and Greenland sharks with their incredible lifespan of 500 years. Their habitat is changing rapidly, especially as new shipping routes and tourism create havoc in the melting Arctic.

This latest Arctic quest will take him much longer than the successful 2003 expedition, though Pen is determined. He reckons that the international community has a maximum of 12 years to protect the unique environment at the Arctic. Time is running out.

Pen is a truly inspirational character and it was an honour to meet him.

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Jonathan (7SFP)