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The BBC's Rachel Ellison
"Celebrating with a cup of tea and a bacon and egg sandwich"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 17 May, 2000, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Emergency rations for Polar explorers
Charlie Paton (left) and Alan Chambers at the North Pole
Charlie Paton (left) and Alan Chambers at the North Pole
Two Royal Marines who endured sub-zero temperatures on their unaided trek to the North Pole survived on tiny rations of porridge and chocolate.

Corporal Alan Chambers, 31, from Scunthorpe, said he and fellow Marine Charlie Paton, 29, from Aberdeen, were forced to make food for 29 days last 40 for the final stage of their gruelling trek.

The pair - the first Britons to complete the trip unaided - were being flown from the Pole after completing their historic 700-mile trek on Wednesday.

Corporal Chambers told the BBC: "It was very hard work.

"Towards the end we had hunger pains all day and we felt very sick and had nausea."

"For the last two days we were just drinking hot water."

Near miss

He said the pair had lost up to three-and-a-half stone each.

They reached their goal pulling sledges across the ice-cap in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Centigrade.

Corporal Chambers revealed that they nearly missed the North Pole.


Alan Chambers
Elated: Corporal Alan Chambers

"We actually walked past it to start off with and went across to the Siberia side and then back-tracked," he said.

"We just fell on out knees and took some photos of the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite).

"It read 8959593 geographic north pole, top of the world."

The two marines were praised for their courage by the expedition's patron, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce. They are only the third explorers to have completed the trip.

Sir Michael said he had been following their progress over the last 68 days and had been "amazed and inspired by their determination and cheerfulness under extremely difficult conditions".

"It is a testament to their training as Royal Marines," said Sir Michael.

'Immensely proud'

"They had achieved what remains one of the most daunting polar challenges.

"I am immensely proud of them, and wish them a safe and speedy recovery."

The two Polar heroes are expected to fly into the Team Polar 2000 base at Resolute Bay, northern Canada, said a Royal Marines spokesman.

They now join the select band who have reached the Pole unaided - fewer people than have stood on the surface of the Moon.

In a recent failed solo attempt, Exmoor-based explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes lost the tips of a thumb and forefinger.

Last month the other two members of the Marine expedition, Corporals Jason Garland, from Oxfordshire, and Paul Jones, from north Wales, were airlifted off the ice after developing severe frostbite.

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See also:

17 May 00 | UK
Marines tackle tough trek
16 May 00 | Scotland
Scots Marine heads for North Pole
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