Arctic explorer Pen Hadow has announced his next challenge - to lead an expedition to the North Pole by yacht

Explorer Pen Hadow hit the headlines in May 2003, becoming the first person to trek solo and without resupply across the pack ice from Canada to the North Pole in 64 days.

Now, he has just announced his latest expedition – to sail to the North Pole in a yacht.

The 55-year-old will be leading the six-week Arctic Mission, which will set off from Nome in Alaska (USA) in the first week of August.

The expedition team will be on two 50-foot yachts – Bagheera and Snow Dragon II.

They’ve been specially built to sail in waters with sea ice. Each will have two skippers on board who are experienced in polar seas and navigation and safety procedures in sea ice.

Dressed in black, British explorer Pen Hadow

Pen Hadow in the Arctic. Credit: PA Images

Speaking to the BBC, Pen Hadow said if they reached the North Geographic Pole then it would be a “bittersweet” achievement.

“If we can produce a visual image of a sail boat at 90 degrees north I think that could become an iconic image of the challenge that the 21st century faces,” said the explorer.

“Are we serious about running this planet, which is actually what we need to start doing, and its bio-physical resources on a sustainable basis or are we just here for a laugh?”

He said the teams would be assisted in choosing a route through the sea ice, and was confident they would achieve their goal.

“I think it is quite possible with the assistance of a US Agency that have satellites that are going be helping us each day pick the best route through these ever narrowing cracks, and it is quite possible we will reach the North Geographic Pole,” he said.

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Pen Hadow said he had spent the last 30 years travelling on the surface of the Arctic Ocean on foot.

He added that the shrinking of the sea ice in the summers now means that 40% of the international waters around the North Pole, known as the Central Arctic Ocean, are open water in the summer times and used for commercial fishing and shipping.

“I want to show people just how far the ice has now gone back,” he stressed.

According to the Arctic Mission website, the voyage’s scientific work will focus on:

  • Recording as many forms of marine life as possible including polar bear, whale, seal, birds, sharks and other fish, crustaceans, drifting animals (zooplankton), drifting plants (phytoplankton) … and even our ocean’s 100% awesome microbes;
  • Studying the different aspects of this special ocean like its sea-ice cover, temperature, salinity, currents and nutrients … and collecting samples of the air, sea ice, and water to check for pollution;

Last August, Ben Edwards, 14, become the youngest person to circumnavigate the North Pole anticlockwise in one season.

He was part of the Polar Ocean Challenge crew which successfully completed their quest to become the first British boat to circumnavigate the North Pole anti-clockwise in one season, sailing the North West and North East Passages.