Timeline

Pen Hadow is the first – and only – person in history to have trekked alone, without assistance by aircraft, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole. He is also the first – and only – Briton to have trekked to both the North Pole and South Geographic Poles without air support – feats which he achieved within a 12-month period.

2 DEC 2003 – 28 JAN 2004

Tetley South Pole Mission in Support of the Royal Geographical Society

17 MARCH – 19 MAY 2003

The Omega Foundation Arctic Ocean Research Expedition

2001

2001

Polar Orchid Challenge

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

2000

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

The Last 50 Kilometres – North Geographic Pole

M&G ISA Challenge

All The Way – South Geographic Pole

1999

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

1998

National Polar Express

1997

McVities’s Penguin Polar Relay – World First

Oyez Polar Expedition

‘That Last Degree’

1995

North Magnetic Pole

‘Search for Kruger’

1994

Sector North Pole Challenge

1991

Trans Spitsbergen Exhibition

Project Polar Night

1990

Greenland by Foot

1989

Arctic Voyage

Polar Bears in the Wild


2 DEC 2003 – 28 JAN 2004

Tetley South Pole Mission in Support of the Royal Geographical Society

Completed the Tetley South Pole Mission, a 680-mile (1,200 km) trek to the South Geographic Pole, making Pen the first (and only) Briton to trek, without resupply by aircraft, to both the North and South Poles.

On 2 December 2003 Pen and British businessman Simon Murray set off to test the viability of a new route (a variation to the classic ‘Hercules Inlet’ route, which lies 50 miles to the west), from sea level up to the South Geographic Pole at 9,301 ft, hauling sledges initially weighing 28 stone (180kg), including filming equipment, in temperatures which reduced from -10℃ at the outset to -40℃ at the Pole.

On 28 January 2004, at 63 years old, Simon became the oldest person by a decade to have trekked from the continental edge of Antarctica to the South Pole.

The 58-day ice odyssey raised over £280,000 to help restore and digitally catalogue the most important items within the Royal Geographical Society’s internationally significant polar heritage collection. Selected items from the collection are now accessible to the public via the internet or can be visited at the Society’s new public-access facilities at its headquarters in London.

17 MARCH – 19 MAY 2003

The Omega Foundation Arctic Ocean Research Expedition

Pen became the first (and to date only) person to have successfully trekked the 478 miles (770 km) from the northern coast of Canada, across the moving, melting, crumbled sea ice surface of the Arctic Ocean, to the North Geographic Pole, alone, without the assistance of aircraft support. On his final day, Pen completed 20 miles in 15 hours before, with only one hour’s rest, he set off to cover the final 5 miles.

He began what explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes has described as ‘one of the last great endurance challenges on Earth’ at midday on 17 March, and reached his goal, the North Geographic Pole at 09.54 GMT on Monday, 19 May. Others have likened the feat to climbing Everest for the first time – solo and without oxygen.

Along the way he saw no living thing, save a couple of ringed seals, a seal carcass left by a polar bear, and a small bird – a snow bunting.

The expedition was funded by an American educational trust – The Omega Foundation. This is a private charitable foundation dedicated to promoting scientific research, education, and environmental protection, primarily in the world’s high altitude and high latitude regions.

At the start of the expedition, Pen was hauling a sledge weighing 19 1/2 stone (125kg), filled with all his supplies and equipment, on average for 11 hours a day over chaotic jumbles of ice up to 20′ high. Sometimes, in the opening 20 days, the most he could achieve was just one mile in a day.

Three-quarters of the way to the Pole, he lost a ski when he broke through thin ice and fell up to his neck into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, and he was forced to trek the rest of the way on foot.

Pen accomplished his feat in just 64 days – more quickly than most of the few teams that have preceded him, who were able to share the weight of some of their equipment between their sledges, and had further heavy resupplies of food, fuel, replacement equipment and medical provisions flown in as required. He arrived at the Pole one day ahead of his published 65-day projected finish date. Sir Ranulph Fiennes commented, “The man has a constitution of iron”.

The only solo journey, without resupply to the North Geographic Pole previously had been from the Russian coast, on the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean, going with the flow of the ice and wind, made by Norwegian explorer Børge Ousland (1994).

Previously, only solo journeys with resupplies by aircraft on the Canadian route had been achieved. The first, by the legendary Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura (1978), involved a dog-team to pull the sledge, and seven resupplies were provided. The second, by France’s best-known explorer, Dr Jean-Louis Etienne (1986), was a sledge-hauling expedition requiring five resupplies. The third expedition was undertaken in 2001 by another Japanese explorer, Hyoichi Kono, who managed to reduce the assistance down to one resupply.

2001

Polar Orchid Challenge

Pen guided Ben Saunders, the youngest person ever to attempt an All The Way to the North Geographic Pole, without resupply. The team sledge-hauled 110kg sledges from Cape Arktichevsky (northernmost Siberia) 620 km across the Arctic Ocean towards the North Pole in possibly the coldest season since 1987, reaching 86°43′ North, some 15 days short of the Pole.

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

The Polar Travel Company organised an expedition to the North Pole out of the Russian floating ice-airport (‘Barneo’) at 89 degrees North with clients arriving both via Russia and Spitsbergen, led by polar guide Ann Daniels. In addition training was provided on the Arctic Ocean to two private teams planning All The Way journeys to the North and South Poles in 2002.

2000

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

Pen guided two expeditions, on skis hauling supplies, the last 110 kilometres across the Arctic Ocean sea ice to the North Pole, with the first expedition approaching from the Canadian side using Twin Otter aircraft for the drop-off and pick-up, and the second from the Russian side via Khatanga in Siberia using MI-8 helicopters ex Barneo.

The first 10-day expedition was undertaken by a specially trained team because of the particular severe weather conditions anticipated (continually -38℃ to -47℃). No sledging expedition had ever been to the Pole so early in the season, indeed the team experienced the last place on earth to witness the dawn of the new Millennium as the sun rose at the North Pole in late March.

The Last 50 Kilometres – North Geographic Pole

Guided a private client on a bespoke, shortened expedition to the North Pole from the Russian side via ‘Barneo’. This second expedition in 2000 was a made-for-TV documentary about the journey to the Pole.

M&G ISA Challenge

Technical consultant in the UK, Chile and Antarctica to the first British all-women expedition to the South Geographic Pole undertaken by Caroline Hamilton, Ann Daniels, Pom Oliver, Rosie Stancer and Zoe Hudson – all originally participants on The Polar Travel Compay’s ‘McVitie’s Penguin Polar Relay’ in 1997 – the first all-women team of any nationality to the North Geographic Pole.

All The Way – South Geographic Pole

Promoted the first British-guided expedition from the coast of Antarctica (Hercules Inlet) to the South Geographic Pole (1,200 km) enabling Catherine Hartley (the first of two women to ever make such a journey) and Justin Speake (also British) to reach their goal 61 days later, led by Geoff Somers.

1999

The Last Degree – North Geographic Pole

Guided two separate expeditions, each of five-men, on skis hauling supplies, the last 110 km across the Arctic Ocean sea ice to the North Pole, following a training and acclimatisation phase at Resolute Bay, Canada.

1998

National Polar Express

Ground-breaking, ultra-lightweight solo North Pole attempt sponsored by National Express – reaching 87°18′ North – faster than any previous solo or team expedition – following a resupply at 86° North. Medical condition forced withdrawal.

1997

McVities’s Penguin Polar Relay – World First

Organiser of the first all-women’s relay expedition (22 women) to the North Geographic Pole from Ward Hunt Island, Canada – including its promotion, fund-raising, selection process, contracting of professional women guides (who trekked the entire distance), physical training, polar base management and media relations. For more information, please click here.

Oyez Polar Expedition

Guide to a seven-man expedition attempting to reach the North Magnetic Pole from Resolute Bay in the Northwest Territories, Canada, using a combination of sledge-hauling and snowmobiles – the use of a Twin Otter closed the remaining miles.

‘That Last Degree’

Guide to a five-man British expedition on foot from the penultimate degree of latitude (89 degrees North) almost to the North Geographic Pole. The expedition raised over £100,000 for the British charity Whizz Kidz, and enabled a wheelchair-bound 12-year old boy supported by Whizz Kidz to fly in to lift the team onto the Pole.

1995

North Magnetic Pole

Guide to a successful (200 km) sledging expedition across the frozen McLean Strait from northern Bathurst Island to the King Christian Island in the vicinity of the North Magnetic Pole in the Canadian high Arctic.

‘Search for Kruger’

Guide to a reconnaissance expedition for television, to Faye Island in the Queen Elizabeth Islands of northern Canada in search of evidence of Hans Kruger who disappeared without a trace in the locality in 1932.

1994

Sector North Pole Challenge

Pen’s first attempt to reach the North Geographic Pole on foot, without air support, from Ward Hunt Island in northernmost Canada. His sponsorship by Sector Sport Watches involved him becoming part of the Sector’s ‘No Limits Team’ – an international team of extreme athletes and explorers.

1991

Trans Spitsbergen Exhibition

Guide to a two-way crossing by snowmobile of the high Arctic Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

Project Polar Night

Guide to a 30-day sledge-hauling crossing of the high Arctic Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, part of which was undertaken during the 24-hour polar night.

1990

Greenland by Foot

Guide to a series of extended tours by foot in the Ammassalik region of Greenland’s east coat.

1989

Arctic Voyage

Co-partner of a voyage, sponsored by Shell Unleaded Fuel, by rigid-hull inflatable from British shores – Tower Bridge, London to the sea ice belt off-lying Ammassalik East Greenland – covering 3.500 kilometres.

Polar Bears in the Wild

A 65-day, two-man sledge-hauling journey, across the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard photographing polar bears – sponsored by Scandinavian Airlines.