Sunday 17 November 2019

Irish adventurers pause to celebrate on gruelling North Pole trek

Adventurers Dr Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea
Adventurers Dr Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea

Ralph Riegel

TWO Irish explorers celebrated St Patrick's Day with an extra-hot drink in their tent as they attempt to trek 778km to the North Pole and make history.

Dr Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea are on course to reach the North Pole by foot and become the first exclusively Irish team to do so.

The duo marked St Patrick's Day with an extra-hot drink and an energy snack as temperatures plummeted to -20 degrees. They have to drag a supply sled weighing up to 80kg over 778km and cope with temperatures that, in ice storms, can sink to as low as -55 degrees as they near the North Pole.

The St Patrick's Day hot drink was welcome as the explorers have been battling heavy snow for several days after leaving north Canada and trekking towards their first supply base.

The expedition, described as one of the world's toughest endurance challenges, demands the energy equivalent of running two marathons daily for around 50 consecutive days.

Dr O'Leary – a native of Bandon in Cork – is a consultant gastroenterologist at Clonmel General Hospital in Tipperary. In 2004, she became the first Irish woman to climb Mt Everest.

She then became the first Irish woman to complete the daunting Seven Summits Challenge.

Her preparations for the LifeProof Ice Challenge trek to the North Pole have included marathon training and spending days in an ice-cooler.

The team left Canada last week and are now battling their way through deep snow.

The trek could take three weeks and they will have to be supported by special food and fuel drops en route.

The North Pole challenge is the latest in a series of expeditions by which Dr O'Leary and Mr O'Shea aim to test human reactions to extreme temperatures.

The journey may be followed on Twitter at and on Facebook.

Irish Independent

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