Global warming force changes to polar adventure challenge

By Steve Carpenter 23/02 Updated: 23/02 13:59

MARK Wood is itching to get back out on the ice and continue is epic journey to become the first person to ski solo so the South Pole and North Pole back-to-back.

The Coventry-born explorer completed the first part of his expedition last month when he reached the North Pole after covering over 600 nautical miles in precisely 50 days.

But the second phase of his journey has been delayed due to uncertainty of the ice in the North Pole caused by a rise in global temperature which as forced him to re-consider his original plan to ski from Cape Discovery to the North Pole.

So now the 45-year-old has reversed his journey in a bit not to be beaten by the powers that be and he remains confident of completing his expedition which looks set to commence mid-March.

"It's been turmoil really the last few weeks because the game plan has changed and it could change even more because I'm still not out there on ice," Mark told the Observer.

"I spoke with the logistical guys up there who know about the ice flow and we spoke about my chances of making it from the coastline, so things changed and I'll be working with mother natures as opposed to working against.

"I'll be flown in by a long-range Russian helicopter to the North Pole, so I'll be dropped in almost the middle of the Arctic, they'll go away and ill be left there on my

own in the middle of a frozen ocean."

Mark now faces a journey full of unpredictability which could see him come into contact with polar bears, something he is not too worried about.

"I have come across 18 bears on 14 polar expeditions, so I'll be prepared.

"The areas I will be operating in will be so remote that bears probably will have not seen humans before so they're just really inquisitive.

"The most effective way is to just shout and bang a couple of pans together, which sounds stupid but it works."

The extra time off has allowed Mark to continue building his strength and keep track on the schools project which aims to educate youngsters about the impact of climate change.

"I've connected with a lot of schools so far, by phoning into the classrooms and giving children the chance to ask me questions, which is mind blowing for me.

"It's really inspirational. They say it's the other way round and I can understand that but it's always a real drive for me.

"While I have been away I have heard they have been getting involved with DoNation project, which has been linked to the expedition all the way through.

"It's an organisation that puts action into the environment rather than money, so everyone can get involved and its been great to see the kids get involved with the environment."

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Buy photos» Mark Wood in action as he begins his trek to the South Pole. (S)

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