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Thursday 21 August 2014

Preparing for North Pole? Let's spend night in a fridge

By Aishling Phelan

Published 12/02/2014 | 15:15

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TWO explorers will lock themselves in a freezer tonight as they prepare to embark on the first Irish expedition to the North Pole.

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Teammates Mike O'Shea and Dr. Clare O'Leary will be the first people to trek to the North Pole in over four years if they make it through the challenging ice caps next month.

 

To prepare themselves for the arctic conditions, they are setting up camp in a cold storage facility in Swords in north Dublin and testing out their life-saving equipment.

 

‘‘It’s about minus 24 in the freezer here and the aim of tonight’s exercise is to test the compatibility of the equipment we are using,’’ arctic explorer Mike O’Shea said.

 

‘‘The aim is to use the equipment in a cold environment and this is the coldest we can get in Ireland,’’ he added.

 

The team will take on tonight’s challenge to simulate the frosty conditions they will face when they walk to the North Pole.

 

They will experience chilling temperatures in the freezer to test all their gear such as tents, sleeping bags and clothing.

 

But a cold storage unit might not prepare the duo hoping to achieve Ireland’s greatest polar adventure.

 

The brave pair are expecting temperatures of -55 degrees when they travel to the North Pole in March.

 

‘‘It’s a pretty incredible temperature so to try to operate in it is almost impossible,’’ he said.

 

Polar bears, cracks in the ice surface and the bone-chilling temperatures are among some of the major dangers they will face.

 

‘‘The primary dangers with a North Pole expedition are the ice leads moving because the ice is moving all the time it’s on a sea, the moon affects us, the wind affects us.

 

‘‘Cracks, which we call leads, can open up like 100 metres wide,’’ he said.

 

Dubbed the “hardest expedition in the world”, the pair are well positioned to make it a success having completed both the fifth crossings of the North Patagonian Icecap and Lake Baikal in 2012 and 2013.

 

The explorers are part of LifeProof Ice Project which will see them walk across all the major ice caps in the world.

 

The North Pole expedition is the energy equivalent of running two marathons daily for around 50 days consecutively. 

 

The 778km day expedition will begin at Cape Discovery on the north coast of Canada.

 

Many more people have been into space than have successfully walked to the North Pole, making it an extreme challenge for the Irish team.

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