(Correne Coetzer. This interview was first published on pythom.com)
Mid-February, Mark Langridge, Paul Vicary and Mark Wood will depart the UK for Russia to start their 980km ski expedition to the Geographic North Pole.
Mark Langridge brings his expertise of two full route expeditions to the Geographic South Pole to the North Pole. Currently, Langridge is semi-retired from the army and runs Survival Training courses and Team Development in the UK, he told Pythom/Explorersweb.
Preparation is 90% of any expedition, he emphasizes. The team gives special attention to the fact that they will be traveling on unstable sea ice. "Without doubt [the challenge] will be the uncertainty of the Ice conditions. We have trained and are equipped to cross leads of open water, this presents problems from personal safety, kit saturation (even though we have fully waterproofed it) and time consumption. All of this at minus 20!"
Pythom/Explorersweb: You have already organised two South Pole expeditions before. Give us a bit of an idea what happens behind the scenes when organising a polar expedition, please.
Mark Langridge: Well, this has been far more difficult than working with ALE - the main reasons are the language barrier, Russian legalities (trying to take a Rifle into the country or buy one in Russia, permits and permissions, etc.)
However, we have had with our team manager a great asset in achieving what we can with this. I have been to Russia before and as long as you have the permits and pieces of paper, things tend to move along ok.
The North Pole and South Pole are in some ways really "opposite Poles”. What are you prepared for to find different and challenging?
Mark Langridge: Without doubt, it will be the uncertainty of the ice conditions. We have trained and are equipped to cross leads (open water). This presents problems, from personal safety, kit saturation (even though we have fully waterproofed it) and time consumption. All of this at minus 20!
You have done a solo and a team expedition to the South Pole. Now it is a team expedition again. Have you ever considered a solo to the North Pole? What does it take to do a solo? What would you say to someone who wants to be alone one the ice for 2 months?
Mark: Well, for me this will almost certainly be my last expedition. I suppose the North has appealed to me as it's a logical step from the South. I think a solo North Pole would be quite tricky, especially from the Russian side. However, the South (using the Beardmore Glacier), would also be very dangerous for a solo expedition.
The time alone has never bothered me. As if you've done a hard day, the only thing you require at the end of the day is your tent, food and your sleeping bag. With a satellite phone, you are never truly alone.
As always, raising the funds and sponsorship, is one of the hardest (and sometimes disappointing) parts of any expedition.
What have you learned on Antarctica that you take with you to this North Pole expedition?
Mark: Loads! The main thing for a team, is to stay close together on the ice (no matter who is fastest). This is a must for safety, especially in a whiteout. Tent routine is equally important and speeds up as we become more practised. Vic and I have worked together and we will implement our tent routine in the North for the 3 of us.
Mark: Preparation is 90% of any expedition - if you get to the start point with all the correct equipment, a thorough knowledge of what you have to do and a healthy "Can Do" attitude, you are well on your way to success. Of course, we may fail in our attempt for any of a dozen reasons, but we will start with the best of everything we can possibly have done.
ExWeb interview with Mark Langridge: Solo to the South Pole and back without sail support (2008)
ExWeb interview with Henry Worsley and Mark Langridge: Obviously no one will be Going outside for some time (2011)
100 years ago on Antarctica: Oates walks to his death (2012)
South Pole anniversary final week: comment by Mark Langridge (2012)
Mark Langridge at the South Pole (2012)
In the 2011-12 Centenary Season, Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary (and Kev Johnson) were racing Henry Worsley and Lou Rudd from the Ross Ice Shelf to the Pole, commemorating Scott and Amundsen’s race to the South Pole, and following their routes through the Beardmore Glacier and Axel Heiberg Glacier respectively. Worsley and Rudd won. Solo Mark Wood arrived the day after Worsley and Rudd at the Pole, from Hercules Inlet. This was Langridge’s second South Pole expedition, previously he skied solo from Hercules Inlet. See AdventureStasts.com for more details.
AdventureStats successful expeditions (2007-15)
Land to Geographic North Pole
2014: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada
2013: 1x car team from Russia (did a crossing)
2010: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada
3x assisted ski teams from CA
2009: 1x unassisted ski team from CA
1x assisted ski team from CA
2008: 1x assisted ski team from Russia (winter exped)
2007: 1x assisted ski team from CA
Geographic North Pole to Land
2013: 1x assisted dog team to CA
2012: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Svalbard
2011: 2x assisted ski teams to CA
2009: 1x unassisted ski team to Greenland
2007: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Franz
1x assisted ski team to Greenland
A note on the North Pole daily ski distances: They are calculated in a straight line from where the skiers start in the mornings and end in the evenings. What is not added, are all the detours around high ridges, ice blocks, rubble or leads (open water). Also not added are the negative drift and relaying sleds.
A North Pole expedition covers the full distance between land and the Pole (90ºN).
A Degree of Latitude is 60 nm / 110 km.
Previous/Related on Explorersweb
Ski North Pole 2016: British Trio
Henry Worsley: Memories and Lessons
"Memories of a great friend,” Lou Rudd remembers Henry Worsley
AdventureStats for North Pole Statistics and Rules of Adventure
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