It’s strange these times we are living in at the moment when the world seems to have come to a stop and is dominated by the Covid virus pandemic. It was only a short time ago when we last met at the Peveril Centre for our monthly meeting and we were being entertained by Jean Walker on her travels in the Polar region.
Jean explained that her work as a busy lawyer was not giving her the excitement she craved so became attracted by the test of taking part in the Polar Challenge. It was a competitive, 350 nautical mile (650 kilometre) team race taking place in the Arctic, to the 1996 location of the Magnetic North Pole. The race ran between mid-April and mid-May, taking the teams approximately 4 weeks to complete, including the training time.
Competitors raced in teams of 3, many joining as individuals and forming teams when they met other likeminded individuals during the training that led up to the race. The competitors were all from different walks of life (not necessarily explorers or people with mountaineering experience), sharing a quest for adventure and to achieve something that only a few others had done.
Jean took part in the 2007 challenge which took place in April/May 2007.
She entertained us with stories about her journey through the white and cold polar environment. Along with two male fellow competitors, their quest was to firstly achieve their goal of reaching the pole and secondly to race against the other teams in the hope that they might not be last. Her photos illustrated the difficult terrain over which they had to travel and the hard conditions they endured. Each night they set up their camp and it became apparent that to be successful at even this simple task they had to work hard as a team to do the different tasks of pitching the tent, unloading equipment, cooking the evening meal and finally getting some well earned rest.
Clearly taking photographs in sub-zero temperatures is difficult enough but wearing three pairs of gloves made the task even more difficult. It certainly makes taking photographs for entering into our own annual competition seem like child’s play. The evening ended with a Q&A, members asking lots of questions to which Jean provided knowledgeable answers. It is always a pleasure to invite somebody local to entertain our society and I am pleased that Jean was able to oblige. I will look forward to our next visiting speaker whenever that may be. So in the meantime, keep safe but importantly keep your mind and trigger finger active.