#Lastpole: Frequently Asked Questions

As the days and weeks of my preparation continue I have found that the same questions tend to pop-up when discussing #Lastpole with people. So I thought it would be a good idea to post up some FAQ’s and answers…..

Q1. How many North Poles are there?

A1. There are four!


Geographic North Pole 90°N
A fixed location on the surface of the Arctic Ocean where the Earth’s axis of rotation meet. First seen in 1926 from the airship, Norge.

Magnetic North Pole 85° 11’N, 133° 7’ W
A wandering location at 90 degrees to the Earth’s surface where lines of magnetic force exit. The magnetic field is vertical and points vertically into the ground. The north-seeking end of a compass needle points to this pole (hence this is technically a south pole since opposite poles attract). It was first attained by Captain James Ross in 1831 when it was on the Boothia Peninsula and has subsequently migrated northwards well into the Arctic Ocean at a current rate of ~40km every year.

Geomagnetic North Pole 80° 1’ N, 71° 59’ W
The point where the geomagnetic field is closest to True North. The northern end of the axis of the geomagnetic field which surrounds the Earth and extends into space as the magnetosphere. Tilted at ~11 degrees to the rotation axis of the Earth (the geographic pole), and field lines are not vertical to the Earth’s surface here. Situated over the Darling Peninsula, Canada. Aurora Borealis occur principally in a stratospheric torus 23° around this pole.

Arctic Pole or Northern Pole of Inaccessibility 85° 47‘ N, 176° 9‘ E
The farthest point from any coastline or the very centre of the Arctic Ocean; also called the ‘Northern Pole of Inaccessibility’. First established in 1927 by Sir Hubert Wilkins, by aircraft but recently re-positioned by Jim McNeill and NSIDC scientists using modern satellite technology.

Q2. The science aspect of #Lastpole sounds interesting; can you give me some more information?

A2. Sure, we have various scientific community partners seeking data on various polar specific issues. Our #Lastpole science team / partners include:

  • Bjorn Erlingsson: Ice Warrior’s principal scientist;
  • Dr. Ted Scambos: the scientist leading our collaboration with NSIDC / NASA;
  • Walt Meier: Research Scientist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory;
  • NASA funded National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC);
  • The Met Office;
  • The Scott Polar Institute;
  • The Norwegian Polar Institute; and
  • Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

Briefly, the #Lastpole Arctic Pole science program will address:

  •  Ground truth of sea ice thickness and snow thickness;
  •  Study of rafting fields (block thickness and features geometries);
  •  Sampling data on internal layering of the winter ice (intensity of rafting); and
  •  CTD for surface and thermohaline layers depth and thickness.
It is our objective is to collect useful data for ground-truthing and data on the mechanical thickness redistribution. I plan to provide further information on our science program in my blogs over the next few months. I’m certainly no scientist so I will be very busy trying to get my head around sea ice geophysics / mechanics! Hopefully I will be able to present it in a factually coherent and correct manner!
Ice Warrior and #Lastpole are also working on an education and science program for pre and post expedition phases.
In the meantime please read #Lastpole Science for more information.

Q3. What tools and equipment will we be using when we are conducting our Citizen Science data collection?

A3. Currently we plan to use the following tools and equipment:

  • Core cutter (Russian type) to investigate the rafting layers in the ice
  • EM-31 electromagnetic device for ice thickness measurements
  • Magnaprobe, instrument for collecting snow thickness data
  • MiniCTD to measure the salinity and temperature of the ocean
  • Sterioscopic photography for mapping special features and ice-types


Q4. What is your role in the #Lastpole expedition?

A4. That’s a great question! Our plan is to have a team of 28 people from all walks of life, and numerous nations, attempting to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility (Arctic Pole) by foot /ski. Along with Jim we plan to have 4 teams composed of 7 people per team.

Our lead explorer Jim McNeill has divided the 80 day, 800 mile expedition into four equal legs. We will be totally self sufficient during this endeavour with each team completing a leg (20 days / 200 miles) and we may possibly complete another leg if required. We expect to be travelling on the ice for 10-12 hours per day.

I will also be undertaking various Citizen Science data collection / experiments for our science partners. I will also have promotional and sponsorship duties to perform before, during and after the expedition.

I would appreciate if you could take some time to have a look at my sponsorship section and get in touch if you feel you would like to be involved in the #Lastpole expedition. We would also greatly appreciate it if you could share our blogs, websites and social media accounts as we need to raise our public profile!

Q5. Prior to being involved in #Lastpole have you any previous polar experience or training?

A5. No, I have no previous polar experience / training. I will be comprehensively trained by Jim McNeill to be fully competent in polar travel and survival.

As part of our training we will progress through various stages i.e. Remote Emergency Care Medical training to expedition core skills to basic polar skills to advanced polar skills to a mini expedition. Our polar specific training generally takes place in our bases in Dartmoor or Svalbard.

I have started my fitness regime in earnest with Adam from Speer Performance creating a tailored program to torture me…only joking Adam 🙂 I plan to share my progress along my journey so please check back regularly for my updates!

I will also post-up information about my nutritional program once I get into proper eating and nutrition…too many beers, chocolate and not enough discipline lately!

Q6. What hazards do you expect to encounter along the way?

A6. There will be various obstacles and hazards along the way. Each leg of the #Lastpole expedition will encounter their own unique challenges. Generally speaking the following are risks that any Arctic expedition travelling over sea-ice could encounter:

  • Severe weather condition (up to -50c) and winds
  • Disintegrating sea ice below our feet with risk of falling through
  • Trips, falls, inuries and breaks
  • Cold injuries i.e. frost nip, frost bite and hypothermia
  • Dehydration and exhaustion
  • Potential polar bear attacks

Each member of the team will have been comprehensively trained for all eventualities and what if scenarios. You have to bear in mind that we will be days away from civilisation and any potential help (and evacuation in the worst case scenario) could be many hours or even days away. This is where having a great team (which we do!) ensures everyone overcomes all presented challenges!

Q7. Where will #Lastpole set off from?

A7. We will fly into Resolute Bay off Canada. #Lastpole will then set off from Cape Isachen.

Q8. Will you be seeking sponsorship?

A8. Yes, I will indeed need to raise sponsorship for our attempt at the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. I will need to seek both corporate sponsorship and my personal sponsorship. If you or your organisation would like be to involved with #Lastpole  please get in touch via my contact page or use below.

Q9. Do you have any notable patrons / supporters for #Lastpole

A9. We do indeed. Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a patron of both the Ice Warrior Project and #Lastpole. The Hon. Alexandra Shackleton is also a Patron of #Lastpole. We have numerous people who have provided their support and well wishes; among these include Michael Palin, Lord Robert Winston and Sir Chris Bonington.

Q10. Are you mad going away up there and no pub within hundreds of miles?

A10. I get this question regularly and my answer is of course I’m mad, aren’t all Donegal men! 🙂

If you have any other queries you would like answered on any aspect of #Lastpole please let me know and I can update this post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s