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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Explorer sets new polar record
Pen Hadow. Copyright: Polar Travel Company
Pen Hadow: Third attempt success (Polar Travel Company)
Explorer Pen Hadow has completed a record-breaking trek to the North Pole.

Mr Hadow, 41, has become the first person to travel solo and unsupported from northern Canada to the geographic North Pole.

He has earned the nickname "the human icebreaker" because he swims across holes in the ice sheet, pulling his buoyant sledge behind him.

His wife, Mary, celebrated at home in Princetown, on Dartmoor with their children, Wilf, four and Freya, one.

Mrs Hadow said: "It's absolutely extraordinary. I knew he was good, but I did not know he was the best in the world."

Mr Hadow set out from the northern tip of Canada, Ward Hunt Island, on 17 March, carrying a sledge weighing 330lb (148.5 kilos).

He defied temperatures of minus 45 Celsius and serious setbacks such as falling through ice up to his armpits that lost him a ski about two weeks ago.

Pen Hadow
The overwhelming feeling is of utter relief - but I am exhausted, exhausted
Pen Hadow, record breaker

At one stage he thought he had come across another expedition's tracks - then realised he had gone round in a circle.

During his trek he donned a waterproof suit and made a number of swims, including two "the width of the Thames" across gaps in the ice.

Two previous attempts on the record were thwarted by injuries and a lost ski.

As he finished his 477-mile journey, he said: "I've done it.

"The overwhelming feeling is of utter relief. But I am exhausted. Exhausted."

Mr Hadow told The Times newspaper: "I gave my father an undertaking shortly after he died in 1993 to make it to the North Pole solo and with no resupply, and to have completed that, after my third attempt, is everything to me.

"This whole expedition has been dedicated to his memory and so I am very, very pleased."

Exmoor-based adventurer and Polar veteran Sir Ranulph Fiennes said Mr Hadow had done "an incredible job".

His next task at the Pole is to pinpoint a 1,200ft-long, 50ft-wide landing strip for the aircraft to airlift him back to his Canadian base.

Norwegian explorer

The explorer's expedition has been funded by the Omega Foundation, for which he undertook physiological and psychological research on the ice.

The only solo, unsupported journey to the north geographic pole to date was from the Russian coast on the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean, going with the flow of ice and wind.

Pen Hadow's route
It was completed by the Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland in 1994.

Only two solo journeys by the Canadian route have been made, both about 20 years ago, but they involved a number of re-supplies by air.

The BBC's George Eykyn
"This has been his dream for a quarter of a century, and at the third attempt he has realised it"

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