Walking on thin ice; adrenalin junkie treks to North Pole for 43 days

2010-04-16 00:00

DESPITE falling through thin ice and suffering frostbite, Durban born Howard Fairbank (52) has completed a 43-day, 760 km trek from Ward Hunt Island, Canada, to the North Pole.

The self-described adrenaline junkie braved treacherous conditions and sub-zero temperatures to add “walked to the North Pole” to his list of crazy feats.

Fairbank has cycled from Cairo to Cape Town and has completed two lone voyages across the Atlantic Ocean.

During the last 24 hours of the journey, Fairbank fell through thin ice and, after a struggle, was able to lift himself from the freezing water and warm himself in the snow.

The fall through the ice, coupled with a strong, icy wind later in the day, led to frostbite on Fairbank’s toes.

Fairbank and his three co-explorers were yesterday taken by helicopter from the North Pole to Barneo, a Russian ice base. From there they were flown to Norway, where Fairbank’s frostbite could be attended to.

On the 22nd day of the trip, the team received food and supply packages from an organised drop-off. A pilot flew over their location and “dropped” three packages which were strapped to parachutes. Unfortunately, one package’s parachute did not open.

“The replacement sleds were destroyed; one can of fuel burst contaminating food, and many food packages burst open.”

Despite the setbacks, Fairbank did not regret giving up a successful corporate career for “a simple adventure life”.

He described his extreme adventures as “personal growth experiences”.

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