Interview with Paul Vicary: North Pole 2016 attempt

Paul Vicary: “Scott, for me, is a huge inspiration in the field of polar exploration.”

(Correne Coetzer) In a few days, Paul Vicary, Mark Langridge and Mark Wood will depart the UK for Russia to start their 980 km ski expedition from Cape Arkticheskiy to the Geographic North Pole.

Pythom/Explorersweb caught up with Paul. In the 2011-12 South Pole season, he skied with Langridge (and Kev Johnson) to the Pole, in the footsteps of Scott. “Having the opportunity to go and follow in his footsteps was a huge privilege (as well as exceptionally hard!), seeing it for real, commemorating Scott and his team along the way. Scott, for me, is a huge inspiration in the field of polar exploration,” says Paul.

More from Paul (or “Vic” as his team mates call him):

Pythom/Explorersweb: When have you decided, next will be the North Pole? Why?

Paul Vicary: About 6 months post South Pole, after an auction to raise further charity money, I discussed it with a team member to see if there was any interest in another expedition, this time to the North Pole. The North Pole was decided as we had completed the South and thought that a switch to the North would be different, focus/learn new skills, the challenge, and obviously, raise further funds for worthy charities.

Pythom/Explorersweb: What have you learned from Mark that made you decide to do another extreme expedition with him?

Paul: Mark is a stalwart on ice and he made some key decisions that were vital to the success of the South Pole expedition. It was therefore hugely beneficial that he should be part of the team and it is great that he will be with us again.

On your South Pole expedition, you were commemorating Scott’s Centenary expedition to the Pole. What do you take with you from him, and his team, when you are out there in the cold?

Paul: The expedition to the South Pole in the footsteps of Captain Scott and his team, was a very spiritual journey, making you realize what his team would have faced back in the day. What you read (via armchair critics), sometimes, is not what it is actually like and is often biased, falsely portraying the expedition and those people.

Having the opportunity to go and follow in his footsteps was a huge privilege (as well as exceptionally hard!), seeing it for real, commemorating Scott and his team along the way. Scott for me is a huge inspiration in the field of polar exploration, to the point that my newly born son was named after him on my return from the Pole (Hugo Eric Scott Vicary).

Your North Pole team, do you commemorate any of history’s Polar explorers on this expedition? If yes, who?

Paul: Unfortunately not on this expedition, but I will take the spirit of past polar exploration and explorers with me.

Will you have daily scheduled call to a ‘base camp’? Who? And who will provide your weather forecasts and ice data?

Paul: Yes, we will have daily calls through our Russian Logistics Company, VICAAR, who will also provide us with regular updates on the weather. We also have our link back in the UK for this and any emergencies.

How does your menu look like? Any special treats?

Paul: Yes, this time learning from the South, and that we craved salt, we have got sponsorship from ‘Porky’s’ pork scratching’s and Biltong jerky, which will provide us with that well-deserved treat of salt, fat, and protein.

We (Mark Langridge and myself), will also be carrying our smoking pipes and tobacco to enjoy post meals in the evening….

When you are not on expedition, what do you do?

Paul: I juggle life with my full-time work, most importantly spending time with my wife and young children (1 and 3 yrs old).

In the 2011-12 Centenary Season, Mark Langridge and Paul Vicary (and Kev Johnson) were racing Henry Worsley and Lou Rudd from the Ross Ice Shelf to the Pole, commemorating Scott and Amundsen’s race to the South Pole, and following their routes through the Beardmore Glacier and Axel Heiberg Glacier respectively. Worsley and Rudd won. Solo Mark Wood arrived the day after Worsley and Rudd at the Pole, from Hercules Inlet. This was Langridge’s second South Pole expedition, previously he skied solo from Hercules Inlet. See for more details.

AdventureStats successful expeditions (2007-15)

Land to Geographic North Pole

2014: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada

2013: 1x car team from Russia (did a crossing)

2010: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada

3x assisted ski teams from CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team from CA

1x assisted ski team from CA

2008: 1x assisted ski team from Russia (winter exped)

2007: 1x assisted ski team from CA

Geographic North Pole to Land

2013: 1x assisted dog team to CA

2012: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Svalbard

2011: 2x assisted ski teams to CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team to Greenland

2007: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Franz Josef Land

1x assisted ski team to Greenland

A note on the North Pole daily ski distances: They are calculated in a straight line from where the skiers start in the mornings and end in the evenings. What is not added, are all the detours around high ridges, ice blocks, rubble or leads (open water). Also not added are the negative drift and relaying sleds.

A North Pole expedition covers the full distance between land and the Pole (90ºN).

A Degree of Latitude is 60 nm / 110 km.


Ski North Pole 2016: British Trio

Henry Worsley: Memories and Lessons

“Memories of a great friend,” Lou Rudd remembers Henry Worsley

AdventureStats for North Pole Statistics and Rules of Adventure

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