It’s not every day that a CEO of Financial Technology company takes ten days holiday to walk to the North Pole. Moreover, it’s not every day that half your immediate family decide to go to the North Pole with you. But that’s what just happened here at Data Interconnect.
The daring father and son team, Tom, Sam and Harry, Dodd-Noble are bound for the North Pole on 14th April. A trip that has been six years in the making.
“A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, my company has been heavily involved in building a new type of software for Account’s Receivables teams which have demanded my full attention, plus I had a few health hiccups to overcome along the way’, Tom comments.
Tom, 64, CEO, of Data Interconnect Ltd, has overcome a series of personal health challenges, which culminated in heart, brain and knee surgery. No stranger to physical and mental endurance, Tom is an ex-Le Mans champion privateer, with the self-discipline to endure 24 hours without sleep and the grit to remain focused on the goal. For Tom, although the North Pole will be no walk in the park, he is looking at it as another endurance challenge to master.
No Dogs Allowed.
The trio’s North pole expedition consists of ten days of walking, seven to ten hours per day in freezing temperatures of between -30 to -40 degrees Celsius. They each will pull a sled which contains life-saving essentials; including Arctic tents, food and clothing, not to mention the latest GPS technology, together with the odd camera or two. Two experienced Arctic guides will accompany the trio.
Their epic journey begins from Longyearbyen, Norway, where they will make their way via a charter flight 89 degrees north latitude of the Arctic Circle.
The North Pole is at the centre of the Arctic Ocean and is more than 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) deep and covered in 2-3 meters of ice (6-10 feet) thick. It is a precarious expanse to navigate, with floating ice sheets that expand during colder months.
Grin and Bear It
Endurance training is a big part of the preparation for the expedition. Each member of the team must be fit enough to pull their forty-kilo sled for seven to ten hours each day. The terrain, polar pack ice constantly moves and is not flat. The team may find themselves covering additional miles each day dependent upon the conditions of the ice. They will need to maneuver their way through open water leads, high-pressure ridges of up to five meters of ice along their journey. No two days will be the same, and weather conditions will change by the hour. There is even that chance of the odd Polar Bear encounter, to keep them on their toes.
Tyres for Christmas
Christmas 2018, saw the trio covering three to six miles per day, pulling a large tyre fastened from a rope around their waist, simulating the weight of their Arctic sled. In addition to tyre dragging, the trio has been engaged in Yoga, Weight Training and Military Style fitness. The net result, they are all now, in-shape in super-fast time, ready for the next phase of their Arctic training in Minnesota, USA.
Tom remarks ‘physically being ready is probably my biggest test. I don’t have any other concerns, it’s a huge challenge, and sometimes as I am walking in the dark, as I was this morning, thinking this is crazy, I know that the challenge to get there will be amazing’.
Harry, 32, comments, ‘my biggest mental challenge is the cold. It will be at least -30 degrees although, we will be walking for 8-9 hours a day, so I expect to get hot in Arctic clothing. Our trip is in the Winter when the sun is continuously above the horizon. Which means that it doesn’t get dark, and there is no natural night-time, so that plays on your senses, challenging your body clock.
I am also aware that Polar bears are a real danger. Their natural diet of seals, sea cows and occasionally whales will hopefully keep them full. Eric, our trainer an experienced Polar Explorer, said that they have warning systems, flares and guns to deter Polar bears from wandering into camp, which is somewhat comforting to know’.
How do you know you are at the North Pole?
There are two North Pole’s, the first one is the north magnetic Pole, which is a magnetic phenomenon which changes daily and is determined by the changes under the Earth’s crust. The Second is the north terrestrial pole, which is a fixed point that references the top of the Earth. We are going to North Terrestrial Pole, comments Tom. ‘At the end, I guess somebody says, you’re there – and there is some white snow, luckily we do trust our guides to get us there’, jokes Tom.
Next Step – 5-Day Shake Down Session
The team are currently in Minnesota, USA, completing their 5-day Shake-Down session. Minnesota is characterised by cold temperatures and snowfall, making the perfect backdrop for Polar training. The Shake-Down course will cover everything the team needs from Polar clothing, equipment systems, to navigation, safety systems, food and menu planning, cooking, camping, camping routines, efficiency and travel by ski. The team are particularly apprehensive about the water experience, where they will all have to drop through a hole in the ice with their ski’s on and get themselves out unassisted. This is an essential part of the training, to get them used to the perils of failing through the ice. The course will prepare them with strategies to overcome the initial shock of failing into the freezing cold water, the necessity to remain calm and the immediate actions required to remove themselves from the water quickly and safely.
Catch up with Data Interconnect’s intrepid trio in our next blog, when we discover how their Shake-Down Training went.