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Pat Falvey - Explorer Extraordinaire!

Friday, 5 February 2010

First Irish Team North Pole Expedition:

World renowned Irish adventurers Pat Falvey, Dr. Clare O'Leary and John Dowd will complete a historical and icy voyage as they navigate, walk, ski, and swim for two months on a 784 km expedition of endurance. Man-hauling their sleds across the rugged, broken, melting Arctic Ocean from Canada, they will be the first Irish team to reach the North Pole without the aid of dogs or any mechanical means.

Traversing the ice to reach the North Pole is now considered the most difficult challenge on earth due to the effects of global warming.~ The all-Irish team will experience climate change first-hand when forced to negotiate thousands of open leads and cracks in the ice, and to climb erupting pressure ridges and tumbling ice blocks the size of four-storey houses, all while dragging sleds and gear behind them weighing 220 lbs each. They will also face the very real risk of polar bear attack.

"The journey is equivalent to 60 consecutive marathons," says Pat Falvey, "through cold down to -60 degrees Celsius."~ The team must travel in order to train in similar conditions, having already completed several trips over the past year.~ December '09 found them testing gear and equipment in Canada, returning again to Canada in February for training, leading directly to an expedition start March 1, 2010.

For both Falvey and O'Leary, reaching the North Pole will mark the distinctive completion of the 3 Poles Challenge.~ The 3 Poles is an adventure challenge to reach the three most extreme poles on earth: Everest as the highest pole, the South Pole, and the North Pole.~ If successful, culmination of the 3 Poles challenge for Pat and Clare will place them among only 15 people in the world to complete this grueling achievement.

Pat Falvey is a veteran of over 65 worldwide expeditions while Clare O'Leary is a veteran of 22, and John Dowd~a veteran of 12 expeditions.~ Both Falvey and O'Leary have already completed the Seven Summits Challenge, reaching the highest peaks on the seven continents.~ Dowd has completed five of the seven summits to date.

Q: Pat, this has been called the most difficult challenge on earth due to the effects of global warming..Tell us why?

The journey is the equivalent of 60 consecutive marathons and we have to negotiate thousands of open leads and cracks in the ice, all while dragging gear around weighing 220lbs. For a lot of the time the ice will be going against us, if we stop for a long time then we are not going to make any progress because the moving ice. There is also the very real threat of a polar bear attack.. and it will be extremely cold at times..

Q: So what kind of training have you been doing for this? You have been learning to shoot in the event that you might have to take out a polar bear?

Yes, we were in Castlerea prison, and we have been doing shooting practice. we have also been in Canada testing out dry suits and extreme low temperatures and doing a number of things to acclimatize to the extreme weather conditions.. we also did a recky in the North pole.

Q: What will you be doing on a day-to-day basis and what kind of conditions will you encounter?

We will be in a place where it will never be more that than -20 degrees C..
We will have do 8 - 12 hours of pulling everyday- pulling over 220 pounds of heavy equipment .. we will have to cook for 6 hours a day
And we will have to sleep for 6 hours a day.. I will be extremely exhausting as well..

Q: You also have to eat up to 9,000 calories a day?

Yes, we have to do this to keep going, and this is no small task in itself - we will have to eat constantly - every couple of hours

Q: What will be the scariest part of the journey for you?

The fact that the ice is very thin and that I might fall through that is a scary part.. There is also the danger of polar bears and the treat of an attack.. frost bite is also a scary thought..

Q: Pat, I suppose the question is this. why would you put yourself through this?

I look at it this way, everyone has their Everest in life and this is mine.. Other people's Everest might be something completely different for other people.. a woman who is pregnant and is going through hardship, that might be her Everest.
When you are on a trip like this you are basically in Heaven and Hell. I also like the part of it that I am by myself and I get away from the hustle and bustle of normal day life.