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Challenge reports 2007

Challenge reports 2007

February 2007 Friends of SPRI Dog Sledging Challenge Team

Februrary 2007 team

Left-right: Imogen Palmer, Helen George, John Pratten, Bob Russell, Betta de Gaetano, Colin Cameron, George Bradbury, Angie Butler, Graham Carlin, Carol Woodhams, Scott Wylie, David Woolveridge

SAS

George Bradbury

Please see www.crazygeorge.org.

Angie Butler

Angie Butler

It was difficult to imagine what husky sledging for more than 240 km in the Norwegian Arctic would entail. It can best be described as sensory overload and the discovery of a primeval instinct, which screams through every nerve in your body, "you WILL survive!'

There are only two things that one has any control over standing on the back of a sledge, and they are the brakes. Huskies have one speed - "full throttle!" Unless you are using one if not both brakes, they are off!

My four dogs were not only part of Per Thore's Finnmarkslopet racing team (the longest and most gruelling dog sled race in Europe) but one of my lead dogs, Snaervit, had taken part in the BBC 'Blizzard- Race to the Pole' series. Thus, I met the celebrity blonde and her equally blonde and beautiful partner, Costello, and my two big black 'stockers' (wheel dogs) Stola and Sparkey.

I will never forget that moment as we stood on the back of our sledges for the first time - the atmosphere was like the start line of the Grand National just before the rope goes up. The dogs bayed and howled, snapped and lunged, straining at their harnesses. Then we were off! The dogs launched themselves and the sledges into the air, some sledges tipped decanting their passengers into the snow and allowing the dogs to run amok A full circle of bedlam was completed before sledges were righted and some form of order re-established. My heart thumped for the rest of the day!

The best and most challenging was kept till last. On the sixth and final day we plunged down the side of a forested hill to the Joatkajavri River, a white knuckle ride of Cresta Run proportions with bumps thrown in! The sledges turned and twisted, lifted and thwacked back on the snow packed tracks, the dogs raced furiously, yelling in high pitch fervor as we neared 'home.'

It had been a challenging, fulfilling, frightening and very, very cold week. Had we as we had been warned, learnt the simple truths of life? Yes! A dog is a man's best friend!

Helen George

Please see also www.arctictails.co.uk.

John Pratten

John Pratten

One of the team asked the question "Have you achieved your goals and aspirations?" around the table on the final evening. Not one negative comment! However - there is no 'However!'

Please see www.brass-monkeys.org.

Bob Russell

Bob Russell

I have long yearned after the snowy wastes of both Polar Regions and have been fortunate enough to visit the Antarctic Peninsula in 1994 before it became as popular and accessible as it is today. When my wife brought the SPRI Arctic Dog Sledge Challenge to my attention in a newspaper article we both knew I would not be able to resist. This was a little before the 2006 Challenge and I believe I was the first to commit to 2007 which gave me more than a year to train and to savour the prospect. Training, (see www.bobsdogsledgetrek.co.uk) actually became a pleasure, so much so that it continues to play a substantive role in my life. The trek itself was a truly wonderful experience - scenery beyond belief and even the 'challenging' days ended with lots of laughter and of course a great sense of achievement. The camaraderie which builds between total strangers is in itself extremely gratifying and the relationships which develop between the participants and those wonderful dogs who give you 100% day after day without question is indeed a thing to behold. But just take a look at the landscape. (see http://picasaweb.google.com/bobrussellster/arcticsledgetrek/) and how can you resist?

JUST DO IT!

[ Editor's note: Bob loved it so much, he decided to do a Dog Sledging trip to the North Pole! See www.noruk-expedition.com ]

Dr Carol Woodhams

What did the trip mean to me? It was an opportunity to see a part of the world that very few are ever fortunate enough to see - to wonder at the natural beauty of Arctic Norway and the hardship of the living conditions for those who make it their home. It gave me the chance to experience a truly environmentally friendly method of transport and test my ability to cope with a physical and emotional challenge.

It has left me keen to do what I can to prevent our careless destruction of the Arctic and Antarctic ice and desperate to get back amongst it.

Scott Wylie (aka 'Scott of the Arctic')

Please see www.scottofthearctic.com.

March 2007 Friends of SPRI Dog Sledging Challenge Team

March 2007 team

Grattan MacGiffin, Richard Luxmoore, Phil Alton, Vince Leigh
Cathy Cooper, Sally Collison, Penny Smith, Dr Kirstie Nichol

SAS

Philip Alton

Please see www.altysarcticantic.co.uk.

Sally Collison

Please see www.sallycollison.com.

Cathy Cooper

Cathy Cooper

Sledging is one of the most wonderful ways to experience thrilling adventure and to bond with dogs and humans.

The pristine beauty of Arctic Norway takes your breath away until sometimes you just have to close your eyes and feel it while listening to the swish swish swish of the sledge runners.

This year was my second trip and it felt like coming home. I even had one of my original lead dogs and I'm sure she recognised me!

Richard Luxmoore

Richard Luxmoore

Great trip, great dogs, great leader. Per-Thore could clearly do this with his eyes shut.

Penny Smith

Penny Smith

The five day dog sledging trip in the Arctic was not quite what I expected. I'd imagined sitting in a sleigh, like Lara in Dr Zhivago, hands in a furry muff, blanket across my knees, sharing a hip flask full of whisky with a handsome consort and talking knowledgably about the glacial Moreno. Yes, there were some similarities. There was snow. There were dogs. Part of the problem is the sledge. It's like a wooden clothes horse on a pair of skis, attached to four huskies, fuelled up with reindeer stew. They only have one speed which is as uncontrollable as a woman buying a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes in a Harvey Nichols sale. Trying to get them to move away slowly, is nigh on impossible. Your arms almost get pulled out of their sockets as you try to pick up the snow anchor with one hand while clinging onto the sledge with the other. Everyone falls off.

Paradoxically, it is seriously romantic being out in the snowy landscape with just the sound of the dogs' paws on the snow and their panting breaths. And on two nights, we saw the glowing green northern lights arc up into the icy night sky. On our trip, there was also the added bonus of knowing that we had put money into the coffers of the Scott Polar Research Institute while we braved the elements.

I'm even considering going on the extreme sledging trip. Eight days, with three nights spent camping. The ice, the snow, the excitement, the smell of the huskies......

Media Coverage

Mail on Sunday Warp Factor dog in Norway! 3rd September 2007

Northern Waterways blog

Norwegian Arctic Expedition Raises Funds for the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute 16th April 2007
GMTV Penny's polar trek 2nd April 2007
Bury Times Off to Norway for sledging expedition 25th January 2007
Middlewich Guardian Polar trip investigates global warming 17th January 2007
Barnoldswick & Earby Times George's date in the Arctic! 12th January 2007
Lancashire Telegraph Arctic Role for Grandad 11th January 2007
Travel Trade Gazette Online Fancy a trek to the North Pole? 17th January 2007
The Times of Malta The Arctic challenge 7th September 2006

We are unable, for copyright reasons, to reproduce articles from the sources above.