Another adventure begins: Irish adventurers start out for the North Pole

Charlie Bird isn't the only Irish person navigating the Arctic. Adventurers Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea have set off on a remarkable attempt to travel by ski across the Arctic ice to the North Pole

Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea getting dropped off by plane at the starting point of their North Pole expedition. Photograph: Lifeproof ice project

Clare O'Leary and Mike O'Shea getting dropped off by plane at the starting point of their North Pole expedition. Photograph: Lifeproof ice project


I’ve just heard the news that Clare O'Leary and Mike O’Shea have begun their attempt to reach the North Pole. Unfortunately our paths did not cross in Resolute Bay while they were making their final preparations. I had already moved on to Grise Fiord. What they are undertaking is not for a faint-hearted. Clare, who is one of Ireland’s foremost female adventurers’, has already made two attempts to reach the North Pole. This is her third attempt. For Mike, her partner, this is his second attempt. Both have already made it to the South Pole.

Chatting by phone with Clare and Mike the other day, from here in Grise Fiord, they told me, they are with good fortune, hoping to do it in about 46 days. A number of other teams and individuals are also setting off around now.


It has been three years since anyone has reached the North Pole from the Canadian side of the Arctic. According to Matty McNair, the American adventurer who lives in Iqaluit (see video above), it may not be possible soon to attempt to travel over ice to the North Pole, given the state of the sea ice in the Arctic as a result of climate change.

Clare and Mike will both be pulling what they call their ‘pulks’ or sledges with their supplies, food and tent. They also carry a shot-gun to ward off the polar bears. Mike says they will be re-supplied twice on en-route. A Japanese adventurer who headed off with them on the same plane is hoping to make it to the pole without any resupply. With good fortune hopefully they will arrive at the North Pole the week after Easter.


The world may be smaller place today with all the different modes of transport; however heading off to ski to the North Pole is just as daunting as it was a hundred years ago.

Clothing and communications is better but they still have to do the hard slog in one of the coldest places on the planet. Safe journey Clare and Mike it’s great to see the real spirit of adventure is still alive.


Yesterday the pilots who dropped them on the sea ice above Ellesmere Island arrived here in Grise Fiord on one of the twice-weekly flights from Resolute Bay.

They told me they left them at around 81 degrees north and the temperature was touching minus 47C. At the end of the first short day they had covered just under 3 kilometers of a 788 kilometer journey.


You can follow Clare and Mike’s progress @theiceproject.orgˇ

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