Image of Matty sent live over Contact 3.0 during the Ultimate Challenge North Pole expedition in 2005, courtesy of Tom Avery.
Image of American Eric McNair-Landry, then 20, on a 2004/05 South Pole traverse courtesy of KitesOnIce.
If successful, Matty would be the first American to ski unsupported to the SP, her kids the youngest to do so.
The gang sped over the ice, past buried mountains and sharp sastrugi, under Antactica's perpetual sun. Sarah jammed to Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But there was a twist to the story: The year sported another traverse attempt - a much publicized 1600 km trek - compared to Matty and her kids 2200 km march, in addition the "other traverse" was led by another stellar polar guide: Paul Landry; Matty's kids father.
The air at the South Pole was anything but festive; scientists flied a "don't feed the explorers" banner smack dab on Christmas day. The kids hugged dad and took off after mom, for the return trip, 1,200 km, back to the edge of Antarctica.
British explorer Tom Avery set out to recreate Pearys journey and match his reported 37 day record. Using exact replicas of the Peary's sleds - and Matty for expedition guide.
Matty lives in the high Arctic and works as polar guide. Ann Daniels, a member of Pen's current expedition, was part of a 1997 women's relay trip to the North Pole, led by Matty. On arrival, the British ladies claimed female record and asked their guide Matty to step out of the media picture.
Would Matty have the strength, so short after her multiple records at Antarctica, to also beat an all-time record in the Arctic and help Tom prove Peary right? The Canadian Eskimo dogs took off, the expedition spending nights in one large wigwam tent.
Black water clouds smoked everywhere, indicating open water ready to swallow the racing dogs.
Pen Hadow was one of the key organizers behind the gala that dubbed Wally Herbert as the first man to walk to the North Geographic Pole, and the first team in history to reach the North Pole by surface travel without the assistance of airlifts. In fact, at least 10 people had done it before Wally and while all the other polar explorers used dogs, Wally's team also used airdrops, including an 11 tonnes drop before the pole. One who reached the spot before Wally was American Peary (main ima..
Instead of Peary's, the expedition now faced the perils of modern explorers. ExWeb received a desperate call from Tom Avery - the Iridium phone didn't charge.
Until the very last day, there were times when Tom Avery genuinely believed that they would not make it. The ice drift played them a cruel game.
On the last day a lead stretched from east to west as far as the explorers could see, completely blocking their path to the Pole. Exhausted by this stage, the dogs included, they searched for a way across.
The first attempt to cross nearly ended in disaster when one team broke through the thin ice, all of them ending up in the water in the center of the lead.
Amazingly the sled did not go through and with the team calling to them from the bank, the dogs were able to haul themselves out of the water.
But wait, a small dot on the horizon - one more man was arriving: Following Matty's tracks, Korean Young Seok Park completed the world's first Adventure Grand Slam.
Posted: Dec 31, 2005 04:56 am EST SUBSCRIBER CONTENT PREVIEW FOR FULL STORY: LOGIN OR SUBSCRIBE NOW - UP TO 3 MONTHS FREE
We have covered hundreds of expeditions in 2005. It's difficult to choose the best, as they all contributed in their own way, sharing their story - their very soul in fact - with us and the world. And yet, there are those who continue to linger in our minds long after their final debrief. We have chosen 8 expeditions who have contributed in an extraordinary way to the Spirit of Adventure in the year of 2005. Today number 2: Matty McNair - Arctic and Antarctica They come from all different countries, have gotten involved with...