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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 17:28 GMT
Explorer in polar claim mission
Tom Avery
Explorer Tom Avery is retracing the steps of Robert Peary
A Sussex explorer is heading to his starting point for a North Pole trek to hopefully solve what he calls "the greatest polar mystery of all time".

Tom Avery, 29, of Ticehurst, East Sussex, is retracing the steps of Robert Peary who planted the US flag at the North Pole in April 1909.

Peary claimed to have reached the pole in 38 days - a claim which has been questioned over the years.

Mr Avery wants to prove the original team did actually achieve the record.

The fastest time since has been 42 days.

We need ice conditions on our side, we need the weather on our side
Tom Avery
The four-strong expedition team will travel in a similar style to 54-year-old Peary.

The other members are South African-born Andrew Gerber, US polar explorer Matty McNair, and adventurer George Wells, a property developer from Suffolk.

Peary's expedition team started with 23 men, 133 dogs and 19 sleds, but that team dwindled to just five companions when he reached the pole.

Mr Avery, a member of a team which was fastest to the South Pole in 2002 and the youngest Briton to reach the South Pole on foot, is aiming to recreate the trek and match the 38-day record.

He said: "We need ice conditions on our side, we need the weather on our side.

Some of the team of explorers with Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
Some of the team met Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
"Peary had fantastic ice conditions when he reached the pole in 1909. However, the big factor at the moment is global warming which has transformed the ice cap up there.

"It was only 12ft thick in his day and is now just 8ft thick and we are going to encounter much more in the way of open water."

He has spent the last two years planning the trip, and said even if the team "failed hopelessly" it would not affect their judgement of Robert Peary.

"We are all convinced that he did it," he said.

The team leave for Canada on Friday, before leaving for the North Pole on 15 March.

Briton 'to solve polar mystery'
01 Oct 04 |  Southern Counties
Men in tough race to North Pole
27 Sep 04 |  Hereford/Worcs
Choice that ended my polar dream
05 May 04 |  Oxfordshire

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