Polar explorers home after historic trek
A PROPERTY developer from East Anglia has returned home after becoming one of the fastest men ever to cross the North Pole.George Wells, 29, from Horringer, near Bury St Edmunds, completed the trek along with four other team-mates in just 36 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes.
A PROPERTY developer from East Anglia has returned home after becoming one of the fastest men ever to cross the North Pole.
George Wells, 29, from Horringer, near Bury St Edmunds, completed the trek along with four other team-mates in just 36 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes.
And Mr Wells, who returned to Britain yesterday said that he hoped the team had vindicated the original claim of explorer Commander Robert Peary in whose footsteps they were following.
Peary and his team claimed to have been the first to reach the Pole in just 37 days in 1909 but it is a feat some Polar historians did not believe was possible.
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Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times on his return Mr Wells said: "There will always be disbelievers and armchair polar historians who don't believe that Peary did it but I always promised that I wouldn't make a decision until I had done it for myself.
"And having matched his time I firmly believe that he could have done it but unfortunately it's something that can't be proved conclusively.
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"I feel we've helped to vindicate his claim and I'm sure there will be lots more debates to come as our trip has received a lot of publicity."
The team also set a new world record as the fastest team in history to reach the North Pole on foot, breaking the previous standard set by a Canadian team of 43 days in 2000.
The group, which included explorer Tom Avery, 29, of Ticehurst, East Sussex, South African-born Andrew Gerber, 29, of Pimlico, central London, American polar explorer Matty McNair and Canadian dog driver Hugh Dale-Harris, travelled 413 nautical miles.
The team navigated as Peary had, with a compass and using the sun, but took global positioning readings with a modern instrument at the end of each day to confirm how far they had travelled.
They also used equipment similar to his including 16 Canadian Inuit dogs pulling two wooden sledges that are replicas of those used in 1909.
Mr Wells, who was re-united with his girlfriend Annie Thompson at the team's homecoming at Heathrow Airport, added that he was looking forward to getting back to normal.
"I've got no plans to do anything like this again," he said. "It really was a fantastic trip and would be hard to top. I'll be leaving all the exploring to Tom from now on as it's back to work for me.
"It was very much a team effort. Not just the five of us but the 16 dogs as well because we all had to pull together.
"Luckily there were no really big accidents but just a few smaller shenanigans. For example at one point I went for a little swim when I fell through the ice but I got out pretty quickly and was only bashed and bruised."
Team leader Mr Avery said that the cold was the hardest element to deal with.
"The temperatures were consistently down to minus 40 which with the windchill got down to minus 55C but it was a very humid cold," he said.
"Just crawling out of your sleeping bag when the temperature in your tent is minus 40 and you've got ice all around your head, that was one of the hardest parts of the day."