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ExWeb interview with Mike O'Shea, “The nature of the NP trip will require us to deal with whatever is thrown”

Posted: Feb 27, 2012 10:15 pm EST

(Correne Coetzer) While International Polar Bear Day is celebrated today, North Pole ski teams are gathering in Resolute Bay ready to be dropped off in polar bear territory. The latest drop-off date (weather permitting) for Cape Discovery start point is March 1.

Mike O’Shea and his team mate Clare O’Leary have spent time in Iqaluit preparing and training where ExplorersWeb caught up with Mike last week. He tells what inspired him to do this expedition, how he will motivate himself and how he feels about the upcoming expedition.

ExplorersWeb: How do you and Clare feel about your upcoming North Pole expedition?

Mike: We are very positive overall about the trip, we were up here in Iqaluit early in December for two and a half weeks training and with our current visit of another two and a half weeks, we will have our systems prepared and honed, our food packed etc.

ExplorersWeb: You are only setting off at the end of the month, but how does the ice and the weather look like at present? At this point in time, does it look if you could have favorable ice conditions at the start?

Mike: As with the Arctic it’s an ever changing picture and we really won't have a good idea till a few days before, but the nature of the trip will require us to deal with whatever is thrown, so hopefully the weather Gods will look favorably on us and keep closing leads as we approach and opening them as we pass.

ExplorersWeb: The Arctic is challenging at the best of times, what is the inspiration behind your expedition?

Mike: There are a number of inspirations really, the first being to attain the privilege of being able to reach the Pole on foot, for me it’s been a lifelong dream and living just over the road from Tom Crean’s village of Annascaul, we have been steeped in polar history so it just feels like the right time for me to take on this challenge.

ExplorersWeb: How will you be motivating yourself – and your team mate - if things get tough?

Mike: We are both generally highly motivated, and I suppose the main goal is to ensure we are having some fun and enjoying ourselves, it makes things easier for sure and it helps when times are difficult, so lots of talking, banter and jokes. And the thought of a good night of pints when we get home.

ExplorersWeb: How does your menu look like? Any special treats?

Mike: I suppose it’s mainly foods & drinks from home, Barry's Tea Bags (any Irish person will understand), Jameson Whiskey - only a capful a day for the evening hot chocolate. Kenco Milicano (Good Instant Coffee) & loads of tasty snacks.

ExplorersWeb: You have been training with veteran polar explorer, Matty McNair. She has a wealth of knowledge. Could you name one or two tips that she gave you that will come to mind when you are out there?

Mike: Matty is a mine of information and it’s hard to remember it all to be honest, but on the mini trips we have been taking, when something arises it seems that we have a solution that Matty mentioned.

The two main ones really are moisture management, and keeping a positive mental attitude while being nice and not whining. That will be an interesting one to maintain while heading to the Pole.

ExplorersWeb: What are you looking forward to, apart from arriving at the North Pole?

Mike: The sense of achievement will be fantastic, it certainly is a hard trip and even though we are resupplied, it is a hard trip. I have huge respect for teams & individuals who attempt and complete this trip without resupplies, that is some achievement, but I suppose a long hot bath and to hang out with my kids when I get home.

Mike O’ Shea has travelled extensively throughout the world and has spent 5 summers in the European Alps and 1 winter, primarily in the Chamonix area, with routes like the Frendo Spur and Gervasutti Pillar to his credit. He has climbed a number of times in Scotland in the winter, primarily focussing on ice & mixed routes on Ben Nevis.

Internationally he has participated in a range of expeditions in Africa (Kilimanjaro & Mt Kenya), Nepal (Island Peak & Ama Dablam), Pakistan (K2), New Zealand (Mt Cook) and has also travelled to a wide range of countries on trips to far flung areas including Irian Jaya.

A keen skier also and has been visiting the Alps, Canada & America over the last 20 years as well as being a very experienced and acclaimed Paraglider/Paramotorist.

#Polar #topstory #interview

Mike O’Shea: “Hopefully the weather Gods will look favorably on us and keep closing leads as we approach and opening them as we pass.” In the image, Mike screwing on skins Iqaluit.
courtesy Mike O Shea
Team mate Clare O Leary.
courtesy Mike O Shea
"As with the Arctic it’s an ever changing picture."
courtesy Mike O Shea
In the image, Mike training in Iqaluit.
courtesy Mike O Shea