Bolton School Junior Boys

Life Lessons from Arctic Explorer

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“When things go wrong – and they will go wrong – try to make the very best of the situation,” this was the advice of Arctic Explorer Alex Hibbert when he spoke to and enthralled Y6 pupils at Park Road, the Junior Boys’ School at Bolton School. Alex, whose talk was accompanied by some very impressive Polar photography, recounted tales of his successful and less-successful Polar trips. He has led independent projects every year since 2006 and is the world-record holding polar traveller who has skied further on an unsupported Arctic journey than anyone in history. In July 2008, he completed his 1374-mile, 113 day “Long Haul” return crossing of a new ice sheet route along with a team-mate. They received no resupplies or physical support and completed the final week on almost no food.

Alex spoke in detail about his failed attempt to get to the North Pole and of extensive periods spent in Greenland, saying at the end of the trip they had achieved nothing that they set out to do, had created no headlines or records but it was still one of his most memorable and haunting trips. The trick, he told the boys, is to try and make the best of the situation you find yourself in, saying: “there is no point going home and sulking!”  He told of his time spent with Polar Eskimos and how welcoming they were. He spent several seasons in the most northerly village on the planet, learning more about the ‘amazing animals’ that are sled dogs and how Eskimo children as young as 7 to 9 years learn how to drive a miniature dog set. Each dog, he said, has their own personality and there can be great diversity in the pack, although they are all motivated by food! He explained the differences between his own clothing and that of the Eskimos who use whatever the local environment provides and also told how they have a sustainable food supply, largely fish. When he spent the winter there he did not see the sun for 3 months and then, wonderfully, it slowly and briefly appeared on the horizon before appearing for a few minutes more each day after that.

He also spoke of journeys across the ice telling the boys that grey ice is particularly dangerous as it is thinner and there is a water current running under the ice. He spoke of the extremes of temperature and how winds from the mountains can warm up the temperature from -30 to -5 degrees.

Looking to the future, he said he is travelling to Germany next week to try and raise funds for his next trip to the Arctic. Expeditions north are cheaper than heading to the Antarctic he explained but he said he will get there too one day.

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