No woman has ever made a solo journey to the North Pole. In spring 2008 Hannah McKeand intends to become the first. In addition she also intends to make the journey in the purest way possible, without resupplies; carrying all of her food and equipment with her from the start. She also intends to take the most difficult route, from Ward Hunt Island in Canada. This journey is one of the last great expeditionary firsts left in the world.

The expedition will take Hannah from the edge of Canada out onto the frozen sea-ice of the Arctic Ocean and across 478 miles of the harshest environment on earth. The floating ice drifts away from the Pole towards Canada, crumbling and piling up into long rubble ridges as high as houses.
Not only will she have to clamber over these pulling her 120kg sledge, but she will also have to fight against the negative drift that causes them; as fast as Hannah pushes her way forward she will also be constantly carried back like a big conveyor belt. Where the ice cracks apart Hannah will be faced with open water, which she will swim across in a specially designed dry suit, sometimes where the water is recently re-frozen she will have to smash the ice with her arms as she swims. If all goes to plan the journey will take Hannah approximately 60 days.

Geographic North Pole:                        
90°00’00”N, 00°00’00”W

Start Position:                                    
Ward Hunt Island, Canada

Total Distance:                                    
415 nautical miles
478 miles
769 kilometres

Start Date:                                                
Early March 2008

Duration:                                                
60 days

Sledge Weight:                                    
Decreasing from 150kg

Lowest Temperatures:                        
-60°C

Weather Hazards:                                    
Storms, blizzards, zero visibility white-outs

Nutrition:           
Hannah will burn between 6000 and 8000 calories per day the equivalent of running a marathon every day. She will eat a mixture of freeze dried meals and high calorie snacks such as chocolate, fudge, cheese, butter, salami, nuts and oil.

Communication:            
Hannah will carry an Iridium satellite phone for voice and email communications and an Argos satellite transmitter which will constantly transmit her position back to base.

Terrain:
The entire journey takes place on the floating sea ice. Beneath the fragile crust the ocean is 10,000 feet deep.  The Arctic ice is constantly moving, piling up into colossal ridges of blocks and rubble and breaking up leaving wide tracts of open water or worse still, thin ice that Hannah could unexpectedly fall through.

Drift:
Because the Arctic ice is a floating mass it is subject to the influences of ocean currents below and the wind above. The trend is for the ice to drift south towards Canada, meaning that Hannah will sometimes feel like she is on a big conveyor belt. As much as she skis forward she will also be being carried back, particularly when she is sleeping. This is one of the reasons this is such a formidable route

Swimming:
Often open water is impossible to avoid and the only way to cross is by swimming. Hannah will use a specially designed dry suit when she is forced to go for a dip.

Bears:
Polar bears are prolific on the arctic ice and have been sighted even a few miles away from the pole itself. The bears are incredibly curious and it is important to have several methods of discouraging their interest.  Hannah will carry pepper spray and a perimeter alarm for when she camps at night and a shotgun loaded with a variety of bangers, slugs and finally lethal rounds. Hurting the bear is an absolute last resort; Hannah will be a visitor to his world after all.  

 


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