Thursday, April 18, 2013

Race Me To The Pole - UPDATE...

Photo provided by Hannah Rollings

"Race Me To The Pole"  - Update


Thanks to unseasonably good weather and high pressure over the Arctic, Gavin was ahead of schedule at an impressive 88km after just four days of skiing. However, there were indications that the spell of good weather would change, with low pressure moving over the Arctic. Sure enough, the bad weather came and conquered, with the team were camp-bound for 60+ hours. Let’s hope that the low pressure heading to the Arctic doesn’t cause too many disruptions on the Race to the Pole.

On the 10th of April Gavin had a 24hr stop-over at Polaris Mine. The once functioning mine produced 21 million tonnes of lead-zinc worth over $15 billion before closing in July 2002 after 20 years of production. At one time 250 people lived and worked there. Although the site is now closed and deconstructed, it still serves as a convenient checkpoint and re-supply point for adventurers and expeditions on this classic Polar route.

This was also the first opportunity Gavin has had to change his base layer of clothing after 6 days of skiing! The team were re-supplied with food and drink and also met some of the Canadian rangers who have been on patrol in the area. The Rangers warned of a female Polar Bear and cub in the area. Needless to say, the team gave a very wide berth to such a potentially dangerous animal. Luckily, they didn't come into contact. READ MORE AFTER THE JUMP

In one of Gavin’s audio updates he talks of the team making an igloo and sheltered toilet during their time stuck at Polaris Mine. The snow in the Arctic is far lighter and drier than the stuff we're used to... and sounds like polystyrene! This makes it easier to make sculptures, which is how the team spent most of their time at Polaris as they waited for supplies.

As of 1PM (GMT) on the 18th of April, Gavin set off from the east coast of Bathurst Island after waiting out a snow storm for 60+ hours. His tent had iced over solid and his sleeping bag and clothing had become wet. The team were trying to keep warm in -40 temperatures and gale-force winds by keeping a lit stove, in turn causing condensation and dampness. As of Thursday morning, the wind had died down enough for him to make tracks northwards, snaking up the coast of Bathurst Island.

The time Gavin spent static in the storm was particularly worrying as he was camped just north of ‘Polar Bear Pass’, a polar bear migratory route. The island is much more fertile than others in the area, attracting a lot of fauna, including caribou and muskoxen. This large prey attracts polar bears, usually from March to November.

So what now?

Gavin is heading towards the Berkeley Islands, a group of uninhabited islands. The Berkeley Group is part is a member of the Parry Islands subgroup. It is composed of the Hosken Islands, as well as Allard Island, Harwood Island, Ricards Island, Seymour Island, and Sherard Osborn Island. The group is named in honour of Admiral Maurice Berkeley, Royal Navy First Sea Lord.

There’s hard work ahead but the weather has gone in Gavin’s favour, hopefully for the long-term.

You can hear all of Gavin’s audio updates at the below link. He touches on topics from shin splints, to polar bears and poogloos (an igloo where you can relieve yourself).

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If you donate, you will become part of the ‘Donation Team’, racing Gavin to the Pole. Every £1 donated = 25km of progress for the Donation Team. Gavin is currently over 40km ahead of the Donation Team. Please help to narrow the gap by donating, every little helps! Gavin is currently over 30km ahead of the Donation Team and he’s on the move!

Everyone can follow the daily progress made by Gavin and the Donation Team via the constantly updated race record at  Thanks to Yellow Brick tracking we will receive Gavin’s location every four hours.
To join the donation team in the Race to the Pole, text ‘POLE13 £1’ to 70070. You can substitute the £1 with £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10. To learn about more about the expedition and to find out other ways to donate, visit the campaign website at
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 Sarmilla Rai and the children of Buspa Primary
To the left is a photo of just one of Moving Mountains many beneficiaries. Sarmilla Rai and her class at Buspa Primary.