What a privilege to be invited to the Arctic Club Annual Dinner and what an evening it was!
As 2017 winners of the award we were invited as guests to attend this prestigious event at Queens’ College, Cambridge. 3 members of our expedition attended the weekends events which started on Saturday afternoon with a talk from the 2016 Arctic Club Award winners. We heard all about their successful trip to Svarlbard this summer (Spitsbergen Retraced), the challenges they faced and some amazing images. David Hempleman-Adams, the first person in history to reach the Geographic and Magnetic North and South Poles was also there and presented his exploits from the Polar Ocean Challenge. This epic voyage through both the NE and NW passages in one season highlighted the impact of climate change in the Arctic region and proved an eye opener to us all.
A fantastic 3 course dinner in the Old Hall followed the talks and provided a great opportunity to discuss our plans and hear some epic stories from previous expeditions. John Thorogood and Kathlene Cartwright were our hosts for the evening. John, a hugely engaging chap who was part of the expeditions to the Roslin Glacier in the 1970’s provided great insight into what we may expect, tips on food logistics and shooting rifles! Kathlene had also been to the Stauning Alps area and was a huge inspiration.
It was very humbling being in the company of so many Arctic explorers and it really did hit home the immense challenge we’d set ourselves. Several people mentioned that genuine exploratory expeditions are a rarity these days and the respect we gained for our plans on going into a region few people had ever set foot, never mind climbed was quite overwhelming!
A visit to the Scott Polar Research Institute rounded off the weekend nicely. The info and displays in the museum were fascinating, from the clothes they wore, the equipment used and even the touching letters that were written by Scott and Shackleton. These guys must have had unbelievable strength and character to survive in such extreme environments with such primitive materials and provisions. It made us wander whether in centuries to come with the continuing advancement in materials and technology, if people will think the same about us. Goose-down to keep warm, dry powdered meals for fuel and dragging sleds full of gear…they must have been hard-core!