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Last Updated: Friday, 25 April, 2003, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Student sent polar bear packing
David Burckett-St Laurent
David Burckett-St Laurent: "Fantastic to be here"
A 23-year-old medical student has been speaking of the moment a polar bear terrorised his team on a trek to the North Pole.

David Burckett-St Laurent, from Chagford in Devon, arrived at the pole on Tuesday after setting off from a Russian ice station in the Arctic with two companions about three weeks ago.

He was accompanied by Adam Levy, 31, from Manchester and experienced polar walker Geoff Somers, 53, from Keswick.

But the 100-mile trip came close to disaster on 20 April when a polar bear invaded their camp site.

He said: "We saw a bear earlier in the day which is weird in itself so far north.

"But later he pawed a hole in the tent, about a foot from Geoff's feet.

"We managed to scare him off by making a lot of noise, but it was a close thing."

The ice was literally crashing around us and we got no sleep that night
David Burckett-St Laurent

He also spoke of the moment the team was trapped among crashing icebergs.

He said: "There was a moment during a storm when it was very windy and very very cold.

"The ice was literally crashing around us and we got no sleep that night.

"You do feel extremely small when ice is breaking up all around you."

The explorer, who turned 23 during his trip, admitted that he had had doubts that he would reach his target.

Ice-cool beer

"We put a lot of organisation into it and my guide was fairly confident, but you always have your doubts.

"You never now what is going to happen to you."

He is currently rounding off a series of scientific experiments before heading home.

He said: "I've been dreaming about sitting in a T-shirt in a nice warm place with an ice-cool beer."

Organisers are trying to establish whether he is the youngest person to walk to the North Pole.

But he insisted that was not his goal.

"It's just fantastic to be here," he said.

Mr Burckett-St Laurent, who has taken time off his studies in London to complete the challenge, used the expedition to raise money for WellChild, a medical research charity for sick children.

Briton secures pole record
02 Jan 03  |  England
David eyes Polar record
06 Dec 02  |  England

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