You know there have a been a couple of times when I've swallowed HARD as the reality of the Trek hits home; when I first dragged the tyres, when the e-mail arrived calling us all to our first ever training weekend on the wilds of Dartmoor in late October.
I didn't gulp but I did take a moment after looking at a two-person tent in B&Q last night.
But the attached just arrived from Simon @ Charity Challenge and I've just gulped again. The extract of a disclaimer states: -
For over a decade Charity Challenge has been successfully running challenges across more than 30 countries worldwide in some incredibly wild and remote locations. As such, we have identified and put in place a number of measures to best manage our North Pole challenges and the many potential issues that have an immediate knock-on effect for the day-to-day logistics involved.
Please read the following information in full and ask any questions that you may have. If you are not 100% prepared to accept the nature of the challenge environment and the points clearly detailed below, please do not book on to the challenge.
1. The North Pole trek takes place in one of the last true wildernesses in the World.
2. Temperatures can range from -45 degrees centigrade to +30 degrees centigrade.
3. The essential Barneo Ice Camp and runway is only set up for one month of the year (April) and this is when we have the very narrow window of opportunity to trek/ski to the Geographic North Pole.
4. The whole challenge takes place on the frozen ice on top of the Arctic Ocean. The ocean ice pack is moving and the ice can and does crack causing open leads and pressure ridges.
5. A moving ice pack has implications for journey times. If it moves in your favour (towards the North pole), you will have to walk less distance to reach the Pole. If it moves against you, you can go to sleep and wake up to find yourself with a few hours walk just to get back to where you were the night before.
6. The Barneo base camp is set up by first airlifting a bulldozer on to the ice, creating a runway, landing a plane with the equipment and building a base camp for the duration of the one month North Pole season. Issues with poor weather, mainly visibility for the helicopter to make the initial drop, or for the plane to land at any point, can delay flights on to the ice to start the challenge. Even once the base camp is set up, the runway can crack and have to be repaired or relocated.
All of the above means that even before the ski challenge itself begins, there can be major delays and changes to the programme.
Once on the ice, your progress will depend on the weather conditions, the physical state of the group, whether the ice is flat or broken up, whether you encounter any leads (breaks in the ice) or encounter polar bears. There are so many variables that you absolutely must be prepared for any changes and delays that might occur. Weather can also delay the flight home, or your return from the ice cap may have been delayed.