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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 11:52 GMT
Explorers flee polar bear attack
Polar Bear
The team made noise for 10 hours to scare the polar bear away
Two Cumbrian Arctic explorers have told how they had to fight off a polar bear that rampaged through their camp.

Paul Walker, 40, and Baz Roberts, 44, both from Kendal, were in a team of eight climbing the Arctic's highest mountain, Gunnbjorns Fjeld.

The pair, who are now back in the UK, said the bear ripped through tents before they managed to scare it off.

The team maintained an all-night vigil, making noise for 10 hours until dawn, to ensure the bear did not come back.

The team had just entered the history books by becoming the first people to climb the 3,693m mountain in the punishing Arctic winter, when temperatures drop as low as minus 60C.

The team all pulled together and we are relieved to have got out alive
Baz Roberts

Expedition co-leader Mr Walker raised the alarm on Saturday night after the polar bear slashed its way into his tent.

As half the team played Trivial Pursuit in another tent, the bear peered in through the tent door of the expedition's other leader, Mr Roberts.

Mr Roberts said: "The bear attack was the most frightening face-to-face encounter of my life with a killer animal and you just react on gut instinct to survive.

"The team all pulled together and we are relieved to have got out alive. This could very well have ended in tragedy.

"It doesn't take away from our magnificent achievement of making the top of Gunnbjorns Fjeld and all the team played their part in completing one of the last great Arctic challenges.

"But we are still wondering what the bear was doing in the Watkins mountains in the first place."

The team was airlifted from their base camp on Sunday and arrived back in the UK on Tuesday night.

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