Robert Falcon Scott, CVO (6 June 1868 – 29 March 1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13. During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.
The march south began on 1 November 1911, a caravan of mixed transport groups (motors, dogs, horses), with loaded sledges, travelling at different rates, all designed to support a final group of four men who would make a dash for the Pole. Scott had earlier outlined his plans for the southern journey to the entire shore party without being specific about precise roles – no one knew who would form the final polar team. During the journey, Scott sent a series of conflicting orders back to base concerning the future use of the expedition's dogs, leaving it unclear whether they were to be saved for future scientific journeys or were to assist the polar party home. Scott's subordinates back at base were unsure of Scott's intentions, and consequently failed to use the dogs in a concerted attempt to relieve the returning polar party when the need arose.
The southbound party steadily reduced in size as successive support teams turned back. By 4 January 1912, the last two four-man groups had reached 87° 34′ S. Scott announced his decision: five men (Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans) would go forward, the other three (Teddy Evans, William Lashly and Tom Crean) would return. The chosen group marched on, reaching the Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by five weeks. Scott's anguish is indicated in his diary: "The worst has happened"; "All the day dreams must go"; "Great God! This is an awful place".
We have just received this report. By Sam Marsden, Press Association Chief Reporter
A polar bear has killed one person and seriously injured four others from a British tour group visiting the Arctic, it was reported today.
The tragedy happened this morning about 25 miles from the town of Longyearbyen in the Svalbard islands, which are part of Norway, according to Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. The bear has been killed and the four wounded people are being flown to the mainland, NRK reported.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: `Our embassy in Oslo is urgently looking into reports of an incident in northern Norway.'
Irish North Pole Expedition 2012:
News item 2 DEATH Bear
Liv Asta Odegaard, a spokeswoman for the Governor of Svalbard, said:
`We got a call via satellite phone from a British group of campers that there had been a polar bear attack and that one person was dead and that others were injured and they needed assistance. 'There are no roads in the area of the Von Postbreen glacier where the incident happened so we scrambled a helicopter 'She added that four other people had been 'severely injured' and had been taken, first, to hospital in Longyearbyen and that air ambulances would be flying the injured on to University Hospital in Tromso. It is not known how many were in the party or whether they were on an organised tour or travelling individually.'
Date time:051146 AUG 11
News item 3 DEATH BEAR
Earlier this year the Svalbard Governor issued a warning about polar bears after several were seen close to Longyearbyen.
People who spotted bears were asked to telephone a special number. The Governor reminded the public that under local regulations it was prohibited to seek out and disturb polar bears and that obvious
violations of this rule could be punished by fine or jail.
Date time:051153 AUG 11
Irish adventure based film makers, Image Now Films (Dublin) and Pat Falvey Productions (Kerry) achieved a new world record of filming from a helicopter on K2 the second Highest mountain in the World to almost 8,000 meters which is known to climbers as The Death Zone.
'The Summit' film crew reach a new altitude record for aerial filming in a helicopter. Flying to an altitude of 23,500 feet (7,162m) on K2, Nick Ryan operated the Cineflex camera system mounted to the Pakistani Army Ecuriel helicopter, filming aerial footage of the shoulder above Camp 4 and the Serac. Stephen O'Reilly in the backup helicopter reached an altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620m) from where he photographed the mountain.
The Summit: A film about the deadliest day on the worlds most dangerous mountain. The story of the death of 11 climbers on the ill-fated 2008 expedition to the summit of K2.
An epic journey, starting in Islamabad, the crew which consisted of Nick Ryan (director/producer), Stephen O'Reilly (Production manager/Camera), Mike Wright (Camera/Aviation engineer) and Nisar Malik (Pakistan co-ordinator), drove up the Karakorum Highway with 400kg of equipment to Skardu.
With the co-operation of the Pakistan Army Aviation Wing (5th Squadron), they flight tested the Cineflex equipment on Friday 22nd July and carefully observed the notorious weather patterns around K2. Monday the 25th was selected as a flight date, and the crew left the base at Skardu at 7.00am on the 50 minute flight to Paiju and then on to K2 where the mountain was completely clear, enabling the filming of some incredible aerial footage on the Cineflex Hi-Definition system (used extensively in the BBC series Planet Earth).
On behalf of all our production team we want to congratulate Nick and all on the ground in Pakistan for their amazing commitment and dedication of creating the final sequence of shots for our new film "The Summit".
This week we commemorate Ger and Rolf's passing three years ago. May they R.I.P. Their friendship and love are still with us, all of us that had the privilege of being part of their amazing lives. Nick, was very emotional when speaking to him over the weekend as he gave account of this amazing feat.
"We were incredibly lucky to get the weather to see the mountain, as mostly you will see either the top or the bottom of it, but not both. The light was fantastic, and winds low enough for safe flight and allow us to reach such great altitudes. The pilots are amongst the very best in the world and their knowledge of the region enabled this incredible journey. Their assistance and collaboration on the planning of the mission was fantastic. After three years of studying K2 in photos and video, to actually cast your eyes on the mountain was quite a moment. The shear scale of the mountain is breath-taking. To look down on the slopes of the south-east face and realise the climbers who never made it back are still resting there, was an emotional experience for me."
"We are all delighted and are looking forward to seeing some spectacular footage from K2. Nick goes into the final stages of putting all the content together over the coming months and from what I have seen so far, the film is going to be gripping. It tells an amazing story."
"The Summit" is a story of the struggle of man against the mountain. The cost of living in the god foresaken place known to climbers as the "Death Zone" the heroic events of a day that cost the lives of 11 climbers that struggled in the thin air of the world's secpnd highest mountain, K2.
For the first time ever the events are reconstructed by the unsung heroes of mountaineering history - the talented Sherpas, told through interviews by those on the mountain on that ill fated day.
It will tell of Ger McDonnell a young and talented Irish climber who was the first Irish man to summit K2, the worlds most treacherous mountain on the 1st/2nd of August, 2008. He was killed on the descent whilst attempting to rescue two Koreans and Sherpa Jumik.
Image Now Fims (Dublin) and Pat Falvey Productions (Kerry) due for film release towards the end of 2011/early 2012.
TV Release 2013
DVD Release Late 2013.
This film is done in association with The Irish Film Board, RTE and The BBC.
For more information, contact us here at www.patfalvey.com
Trip: Upper Mustang Trail
Route: Jomson - Lo Manthang
Duration: 21 Days total - 20 Days Trekking
Grade: Trekking – Moderate
Mustang is the name of a district in the far north west of Nepal. One of the most remote areas, it is a geographic extension of the Tibetan plateau, a windswept land of mountains preserving the last authentic remains of Tibetan culture. This area was completely isolated from the rest of the world, and only opened to trekking groups in 1991. The barley, potatoes and buckwheat grown here are the staple diet around the major villages of Ghame & Tsarang. We continue until we come to the ancient walled fortress city of Lo Manthang. From here the border of Tibet is just a stones throw away. After this we head back from same trail or possibly to we head back towards Jomsom via sacred pilgrimage site of Muktinath.
"Mustang is one of the few places in the Himalayan region that has been able to retain its traditional Tibetan culture unmolested… authentic Tibetan culture now survives only in exile and a few places like Mustang, which have had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet."
-The Dalai Lama
Closed to foreigners until 1992, the ‘Forbidden’ Kingdom of Mustang collides with medieval Asia; where a vibrant culture, dating back over a thousand years is coming to terms with a twenty-first century road. Fortunately, the communities and their traditions are resilient, as are their mud-walled towns and monasteries covered in original frescos, for now. A recently built road from Tibet runs through the heart of Mustang to Jomsom and on to Pokhara; it offers unprecedented change to this unique and ageless place. Jeeps and motorcycles have replaced decorated horses, and art experts are assessing the potential dangers of traffic vibrations to fragile artworks. Mustang may not last forever, see it while you can.
Lying to the northwest of the Annapurnas and extending onto the Tibetan Plateau, Upper Mustang is a large mountain-fringed basin home to the headwaters of the Kali Gandaki. The main trail runs north-south from Lo Monthang to Jomsom with some side trips en route, but none that conveniently connect to other trekking routes. So, until some serious trail work is completed there isn’t a reliable route option through Upper Mustang for the GHT. Trails from Naar and Phu to Upper Mustang have sporadic water sources, are rugged and some require technical alpine skills. However, there is a good trail from Ghemi to Chharka Bhot in Upper Dolpo, but it can only be used only in October or November. The locals in Ghemi restrict access to this route, as they believe that the mountain spirits will be offended and prevent rain from falling on their fields if anyone disturbs the pass from December to September. They have been known to violently defend this belief.
Mustang is part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), which is the largest protected biodiversity area in Nepal. Referred to as a Trans-Himalayan Ecosystem (the lower, lush valleys of the mid-hills are linked with the arid Tibetan plateau), this is a culturally and environmentally sensitive and fragile region, which demands the utmost respect and care. Please take all precautions to tread softly and follow the Great Himalaya Trail Code.
In October 2008, King Jigme Palbar Bista’s (b. 1930) reign over Mustang ended by Nepali Government order, which effectively terminated the monarchic tradition established in AD 1350.
Grade: Trekking - Moderate
This trek is suitable to all and can be achieved by a beginner with training. A good level of fitness and some experience on a mountain is recommended prior to departure. You will enjoy your trip a lot more if prepared well. We recommend that you attend our Free Meet Day to join your group and our experienced guide to go for a preparatory hill-walk. This provides a good opportunity to get any questions answered or concerns that you may have dealt with in relation to the trip. Tips on gear, altitude and conditions will be also covered. We also run Fitness assessment and Hill-walking weekends that are ideally suited for those who need a little more preparation. We recommend these options to ensure a good level of understanding of the requirements for the upcoming trek.
The major problems occur when climbing, where due to the costs being based on the number of days you are on the mountain, many organised groups ascend far faster than the recommended 300m per day. Although the climb is possible in 5 or 6 days, at Irish & Worldwide Adventures we have agreed a 7 day climb allowing 1 extra day for acclimatisation or rest purposes. It is worth spending a bit extra to stay safe and achieve your goals. It is possible to spend time on some of the adjacent mountains to help acclimatise before tackling the main summit. More detailed information on Acclimatisation, Health Guidelines and Personal Safety Guidelines will be available on signup.
All-In Group €3,700 inclusive of International Flights on Land Only Itinerary set out below ** Please allow additional flight days to be added
Land Only €2,900
1. Airport Transfers
2. Hotel accommodation on B/B Basis. 4 night in Kathmandu and 2 nights in Pokhara
3. Domestic flight ticket - Jomsom/Pokhara/Jomsom/Kathmandu
4. National Park Fee
5. TIMS permit
6. All necessary permits
7. All camping and meals during the trek
8. Transportation of food from Beni to Jomsom
9. Transportation from Kathmandu to Pokhara by bus
1. Meals in Kathmandu
2. Members insurance and emergency rescue
3. Drinks and beverages including mineral waters
4. Any extra night hotels other than 4 nights in Kathmandu and 2 nights in Pokhara
5. Sightseeing in Kathmandu and Pokhara
Tony Nation, Trekking Guide & Trainer
Tony's love for adventure has taken him to many regions of our planet, he enjoys leading groups in Africa, Russia, Nepal and South America. Like many of our adventure guides and trainers his passion is that of communication and instilling the culture of the places we visit to those that join in our our adventures and courses. He is also one of our leading Irish guides with special knowledge in the Cork and Kerry hills and mountains. He is a father of four Sean, Damien, Sara and Timothy and from a very early age to instill adventure to his children, became involved with his wife Mary as a leading light in Scouting Ireland, giving of his time voluntary for over 20 years to promote the adventurous spirit in children. He is a County Commissioner for Cork South and heavily involved in training new Leaders and delivering Mountain Skills training to all Leaders and Scouters. Tony is a good story teller, has a passion for the outdoors, enjoys good food and after a hard day on the hills a few pints in good atmosphere. Tony is also a manager/trainer in our Health, Safety and team-building Corporate division.
Info on Sherpas
We at Irish and Worldwide Adventures ensure that all our agents in every destination value and treat their employees with respect and ensure their working rates and conditions are adhering to the local employment and Health & Safety guidelines. We have built up a good relationships with all of our operators to ensure the welfare of their team is priority. For more guidelines and information on Sherpas please contact us.
Here is a sample daily Itinerary, on booking you will be issued a more detailed version.
Day 01: Meeting upon arrival at Kathmandu International airport (1350n) Bus to Pokhara (920m) Overnight in Hotel.
Day 02: Fly to Jomsom (2710m) and trek to Kagbeni (2800m) Overnight at Camp
Day 03: Trek to Chussang (2920m) Overnight at Camp
Day 04: Trek to Syangboche (38000m) Overnight at Camp
Day 05: Trek to Charang (3510m) Overnight at Camp
Day 06: Trek to Lo Mangthang (3770m) Overnight at Camp
Day 07: Rest Day
Day 08: Trek to Ghiling (3500m)) Overnight at Camp
Day 09: Trek to Samar (3660m) Overnight at Camp
Day 10: Trek to Yekle Bhatti (4100m) Overnight at Camp
Day 11: Trek to Muktinath Overnight at Camp
Day 12: Trek to Thorang La Overnight at Camp
Day 13: Climbing 6000m peak in Thorong La & Back to Muktinath Overnight at Camp
Day 14: Trek to Jomsom (2710m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 15: Fly to Pokhara (920m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 16: Free Day in Pokhara (920m) Overnight at Hotel
Day 17: Fly to Kathmandu
** If you want to climb Dhampus Peak, then you will have to pay for Peak Permit Fee and also the porter fee is high. But, if you Climb Throng peak, you don’t need to pay for Peak Permit and the porter ss available at the normal rate. The elevation of Dhampus Peak and Thorong peak is almost same.
Preparation - We have selected a walking weekend to help you adjust to the goal of the trek. The weekend has two walks with advice and techniques for clothing and gear given also. On the Saturday we will climb one of Irelands highest peaks during a day hike and on Sunday morning early we will go on a night hike simulating the requirements on the summit day of a trek which takes you out of your comfort zone prior to the real thing. This method allows your body and mind to adjust to the challenge ahead. For more info on this we also run Fitness Assessment and Hill-walking weekends, go to our Irish Training Section.
We suggest a training program of at least 6 months intensive to comfortably trek this trail.
Months 1-2 This should include weekly/fortnightly hillwalking for 3hrs+ with a small/medium pack of weight of 5-10kg approx
Months 3-4 This should be increased to include longer days (6hrs+) and pack weight of 10kg approx. Attend our Free Meet Day!
Month 5 Two days walking back to back twice giving 4 days total. Example: Saturday 7hr & Sunday 6hr = 13hrs walking. Avoid injuries at all costs!
Month 6 Continue with some walking but reduce to lower peaks and durations of 4hrs, avoid injuries at all costs!
You will need a valid full passport, please ensure it has at least six months before expiring prior to departure. Before applying for Visa please check dates on passport. Please bring 4-passport photos for visas.
We will need to get the visa and this can be got upon entry to Nepal.
For general wear on trek: cotton pants, t-shirts and if you have light thermals these will be ideal.
One pair of trekking boots for the trek. These boots can be used for good wear. If you have a hillwalking pair of boots you can also bring them. If you like comfort we recommend boots with extra insulation in sole around €150 with vibram or similar sole.
Four pairs of warm trekking stockings. (Thorlo or similar)
Adjustable ski poles: these take a lot of pressure off the body and makes walking less tiring. Some use two spring loaded ones as it takes 36 tons of pressure off your knees per day as well as allowing you to have a crutch to lean on when you are tired.
Thermal under-wear heavy gauge: 2 Tops and 2 bottoms. Dryflo etc.
1 fleece or pile jacket. Windproof is good.
Wind and water proofs (Gortex or similar): Top jacket and bottoms.
Sleeping bag range to - 15/20 degrees make sure it packs small. Also for sleeping it is important to bring an insulating sleeping mat. I usually bring a Thermarest full-length non-slip. There is insulating mattresses provide on trek but for extra comfort bring a Thermarest.
1 Water bottles with wide neck and one with narrow neck (Nalgene or similar) or one Platypus container, the platypus is ideal for trekking as you can stay hydrated by drinking from a tube as you walk.
Gloves: 1 pair of thermal and 1 pair over gloves or mitts, no harm in bringing spare sets.
Headtorch, Petzl with spare batteries and bulbs. I cannot stress the importance of this to have in good working order. (New LED versions are also lighter and smaller)
Peak hat for the lower regions to protect your head from the sun. (bandana or neck gaiter also)
Ruck sack 30 litres daypack for mountain to carry your camera food and day gear.
For traveling, 70-100 liters rucksack or strong gear bag- this will also do to give to porters on trek to carry your general gear.
Optional for night up high for cold, a light down top or extra fleece.
Personal first aid and medicine kit. (All our guides will have these for emergencies only)
UV sunglasses – Cat. 3 or Cat. 4 recommeded if there is a lot of time in or near snow.
2 x Earplugs pairs – If you have an inside pocket in sleeping bag, leave one there fulltime.
Sun-block (very important and use it!!)
Backpacking towel and general toiletries.
Extra Clothes for travelling and/or socialising.
Tips on Gear
Make sure your boots are well broken in.
For the mountain, a layering system works best to allow you to cool down or warm up with ease - t-shirt or thermals, shirt or warm top, a good fleece and good heavy-duty waterproofs if you intend doing more treks in future.
Gloves and hats are vital.
Bring waterproof gear that is made of breathable material.
You can use a normal 3 season sleeping bag. If you tend to get cold very easily, you can add in a sleeping bag liner. Remember that sleeping bags work on trapping layers of air so wearing clothes in your bag doesn't help.
If you wear contact lenses take plenty of saline and comfort drops as the paths are dusty. Also glasses are essential for summit night as temperature and altitude may effect eyes if contacts worn.
Common first aid complaints are headaches, dehydration, stomach bugs, diarrhoea, sunburn and occasional mouth ulcers. Looking after yourself with plenty of fluids, rest and enjoying the gentle ascending pace will assist in avoiding these. Your personal first aid kit should contain treatments for these minor aliments.
Please get advice from your GP before departure.
Money can be left in the hotel safe. All currency can be easily changed to local currency in the cities you will be staying in. The only money you will need to carry for your treks will be to cover porter and guide tips and bottled water if you choose to purchase. (Hotels offer launderette facilities if you wish to wash clothes following trek otherwise there is no opportunity to wash clothing.)
Digital cameras will cope fine with the conditions if you keep them warm close to your body where possible especially on summit morning or when reaching you highest day, otherwise batteries can run down. Spare batteries are a must.
Alpine Training Techniques in Kerry
This week we ran one of our simulated Alpine Training Courses at The Pat Falvey School of Mountaineering at The Mountain Lodge.
Bad weather: Even though the weather was bad, the conditions were ideal to get all of the participants, who worked as a team, to complete their tasks that were set up 'under pressure' to work together and to show the importance of being knowledgable, swift and apt in the execution of the skills learned.
Our team of skilled trainers have developed these courses to teach the skills required to participate in climbing in the Alps and further afield in the higher ranges.
The weekend courses include:
• Use of ice axe and crampons
• Techniques on glacier travel
• Crevasse Rescue techniques and simulated practice on cliff face.
• Rope work
• Moving together on glaciers
• Clothing and equipment
The weekend also entailed climbing Corran Tuathail, Ireland’s highest mountain at night and putting into practice all of the skills learnt in a simulated way.
MT. Blanc Group:
This weekend we had a charity group, who are preparing to climb Mount Blanc, go through their paces of pre-training before arriving in the Alps. Congratulation to Teena Gates, Andrew Forde, Ronan Friel, Joseph Kearney, Jonathan Fitzpatrick on the completion of our Alpine Beginners Skills Course.
We also wish them the best on their task to raise money for Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children's International Fund who are now celebrating their 25th anniversary by climbing Mount Blanc in September.
Theses courses are aimed to enable individuals and teams to make a successful safe ascent and descent of high altitude peaks around the world and they are ideal training for any group or individual wishing to brush up on techniques or for anyone interested in expanding their climbing skills to the higher, colder, snow-capped and icy mountains around the world. For further information please contact our office or book one of our many courses. We also run specific courses to cater to the needs of teams and individuals and to the skills required for the objective in mind.
Ideal training for major expeditions and trekking climbs around the world.
For more information - please contact us here at www.patfalvey.com
Read through the ups and downs for the team during February and March when the challenging weather required the team to abort their North Pole bid after waiting for 10 days to fly out to the ice from Resolute. A tough decision certainly but with another 4-5 days wait before they could fly it was too much gone out of their reserve days to contend with. Four teams out of four pulled out of North Pole attempts this year. Following their decision the team went on to complete the first Irish ski/trek of the remote Akshayuk pass, traversing a peninsula of Baffin Island. Here is the 1st of three reports.
Report compiled by Dr Clare O'Leary and Pat Falvey. Further Images from the expedition to follow.
Listen to Podcast Part 1 - Step Down North Pole 2011 - by Pat Falvey
North Pole Step Down 2011 Trip Report Part 1. Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
It's hard to put into words how frustrated and devastated Clare and I were to step down on our 2011 Irish North Pole expedition. It was hard to credit that this year due to unprecedented bad weather in the Arctic; we would not even get to the starting point. Never in my 68 high-expedition adventures have I ever encountered conditions like this before. Mother Nature had dealt us a cruel blow because of climate change and global warming throughout the world; it caused a devastating effect on the arctic weather patterns and ice movement for 2011 season, causing more then a million extra hectares of ice in the Arctic sea to evaporate and cause unpredictable bad weather in the region which blocked us from starting.
Disappointed but Acceptant : 3 years of serious commitment in planning, training, learning and preparing ourselves for our North Pole challenge of walking, skiing and swimming from the land mass on the northern shores of Canada - all ‘down the tube’ without even the chance to give it an attempt.
Pinned Down: We were pinned down by unrelenting bad weather for 20 days stuck in our transit base camp on Resolute Bay, a small barren remote Inuit community of only two hundred people situated on the North Eastern shores of the North West Passage. Frustrated, we waited and waited in windy sub zero conditions for a break in the weather to afford us an opportunity to board our privately chartered plane that sat on the apron of a wind swept runway of the airport that serves the region, to fly us to our final destination at Cape Discovery to the start of our challenge.
The Waiting Game: Day after day in our holding position we had to re-assess our diminishing time-window which we had estimated for reaching the North Pole. Discussions and meetings were held on a daily basis with our pilots, base manager Rick from our aircraft charter company "Borek" and the Canadian High Arctic Metrological Department until finally we were forced to concede that successfully reaching the North Pole for 2011 would be impossible for us. Mother Nature had played us a devastating blow as unprecedented bad weather eroded our time to succeed.
The Plan: We had put huge thought and research into the planning and preparation of this expedition. We had looked at all successful and failed attempts throughout the history of North Pole expeditions and we realistically estimated our ability based on our polar experience and concluded what was both the maximum and minimum period of days that we required to successfully achieve our objective.
Our Weather Window: We had given ourselves a maximum of 60 days to complete our challenge from Cape Discovery; with an estimate of 55 days as a reasonably realistic time for us to reach the North Pole from Cape Discovery. Anything under this would be a risky and increase our chances of failure.
We set out milestones and targets for our plan, and we knew that to deviate from them raised the risk of failure. We were willing to take calculated risks to succeed but not foolhardy risks that would guarantee failure. We also had to watch that we would not ‘let our heart rule our head’ over factual information; a prudent business strategy I had learnt from my business background.
Adventure Grand Slam: If successful, this expedition for Clare and I would be the ‘grand slam’ of adventure. To climb all the highest points on each of the seven continents including trekking to the South and North Pole. We had completed all but the latter. The pressure personally and emotionally on both of us was enormous.
For me it would be a personal satisfaction to exit extreme adventure at 54 years of age and to continue into less extreme expeditions after what has been an amazing series of adventures over 25 years travelling around the world.
We knew that no matter how confident or prepared in doing this, that we would always have to deal with the unknown elephant of polar travel, Mother Nature. We were confident of our ability to succeed but not complacent. We knew there were circumstances and events that were not in our control to predict or influence.
The Russian Time Bomb: To reach the pole we were confined to a window of time that was crucial to achieve; the date of the 26th of April etched on our expedition calendar. Like a primed time-bomb the clock was ticking to reach our target, we would have to be there before 09:00 am 26th February. If we delayed in getting there, a severe penalty for evacuation from the Canadian side could cost up to $120,000 extra and we would still have to arrive at the pole no later then the 30th of April, just three days later.
The decision for us to step this down was one of the hardest Clare and I have made in our expedition careers, but by that stage, the facts put before us guaranteed failure.
As you can imagine having put so much effort into this expedition we didn't want to go home and Clare and I switched our attention from the North Pole and continued on to do another expedition to cross a section of Baffin Island.
Trip Report: I will conclude by finalising this year’s expeditions with the following trip report.
After years of planning, training and research throughout the world, our journey to Canada for the 2011 Irish North Pole expedition truly began in the final days of January 2011.
General Diary of North Pole Section: On the 29th of January we arrived into the harsh environment of our base camp acclimatisation Arctic location in Iqaluit for our three weeks’ preparation to do a mini expedition on Frobisher bay to test all our gear and to do final packing of food and equipment for the pole challenge also it would give us a chance to find out more about the Inuit and the attempted dismantlement and destruction of their culture by what was then a colonizing force; how the Canadians used the Inuit to stake land claims in remote and desolate regions of the Arctic to protect mineral rights. Another important element of learning on all our expeditions.
Iqaluit is the Inuit capital of the Nunavut region a new territory formed in 1999 and given it own autonomy under the lands act ...see information on (Nunavut/ Iqaluit).
While in Iqaluit we trained with local polar adventurer Matty McNaire for a few days to hone our polar skills, and to listen and learn from a master of Arctic survival. It was an amazing opportunity for fine tuning both our technique and logistics from one of the top arctic polar adventures in the world.
As late comers to polar disciplines and our quest to be self sufficient on all our expeditions, we have had the fortune to train and learn from some of the best polar people in the world. Borge Osland and Rolf Bae from Norway, Richard Webber and Matty McMaire from Canada aslo Victor Boyarsky, Russian. All are passionate, all have different takes on gear and equipment, but all are in agreement that the Arctic is the harshest environment in the world. Their accumulative advise would not go astray on Clare and I.
Iqaluit had given us what we needed, temperatures averaging -35 degrees Celsius, the time to train and to sort all our gear and food.
The three weeks went fast and we moved forward to the next leg of the expedition on the 21st of February excited and confident that we were ready to pull off our journey to the pole, not realising what lay ahead.
We moved to our next location in Resolute Bay which is situated on the northern banks of the North west Passage. Here we would do further training for a few days as we waited for conditions to land at our starting point at Cape Discovery at the top of Canada and the start of our trek.
Weather Frustration: Our departure date of the 25th of February was put back due to a late coming of the sun rising at our landing point at Cape Discovery by three days. The pilots needed at least one hour of sunlight to determine contrast between the grey sky and snow/ice covered Fjord. The sun in the Arctic was playing games with our departure. We had agreed to push out our date for departure back by 3 days to the 28th February to allow a safety margin for pilots.
Weather Bad: We were all packed and ready to go on the 28th and were stepped down just 12 hours before departure. The weather had worsened due to high wind and cloud cover at Cape Discovery which was shown in an updated Satellite forecast. The new forecast did not look good and we knew that we would at least have to wait another few days. The Arctic weather was flexing its muscle. Still Clare and I did not have too much of concern and it looked like a high pressure zone was winning out, to the low pressure at our starting point, it really looked promising so we sat out a further 2 days still thinking all would be ok, but our safety risk margin was being eroded down to 55 days and the clock was ticking.
Once again on the 2nd of March we received a call from Rick, base manager for Borek to sadly tell us the low pressure coming in from the north west had won out over the high pressure from the south east and that the weather didn't look good for at least another three days.
Now alarm bells were ringing for us, this new set back was at least pushing us back to the 5th March and down to our minimum risk threshold of just 52 days beyond our comfort zone; but our feeling was that the mission was still achievable. If all went well we would have a race to the pole to get there on time and we were willing to take the risk. We knew any further erosion due to weather would mean a whole new plan.
The pressure over the following days was enormous as we waited every day and checked the forecast. We went to see a professional forecaster that was based at the weather station at Resolute and he felt that the whole winter season had been the worst since records began and that our chances of success were slim, due the huge loss of ice in the Arctic.
As the days rolled by we didn't see any improvement on the satellite pictures and prepared ourselves for the worst, to be stepped down once more. We were even trying to ignore the fact that we now needed to make a serious decision. We needed further clarity on what was now becoming a huge worry. We contacted Matty McNaire down in Iqaluit for her take on what was happening and sought independent experienced advice. In a returned email she spelt out the facts, which brought us back to reality. We were still choosing to push the dates back and were leaving our hearts rule our head, we didn’t want to give the expedition up, even if were stepped down again.
Matty’s email refocused us on our plan. Matty in turn contacted a friend that was an expert on Arctic Polar weather and on receiving this latest input, it made our decision very easy. The forecast showed that improvements would not occur until at least the 10th March.
Shocked by this prediction we sat down and re-calculated all our logistics and if the forecast was right we were now guaranteed to fail. For many hours we mulled over the forecast, we contacted the other two teams that had intended to go this year and presented them with the facts on the new forecast. All agreed if this was the case none of us would reach the pole in time. Facing the facts a decision had to be made and we we even approached Borek to know if they would extend their time in coming in to collect us from the pole for a week or two. The answer was no, the dangers of losing a plane were too great for them. In 2010 they had attempted an evacuation on the 4th of May and lost a Twin Otter plane to the icy sea, so therefore they would not take the risk to collect us later then the 30th of April.
The Death Knell: All adventurers know that you cannot pit yourself against the power of nature; we have learnt from the experience of the Inuit, the hunters and people of the high Arctic, you blend with nature and change your plans with natures’ changing moods. This year sadly we accepted that the nature of the weather in the Arctic had closed it's doors to our polar challenge and all teams stepped down the challenge on the North Pole from Canada.
A New Focus: Once we accepted this and made the decision we moved on and planned to make the most of our time in the Arctic. A new expedition unfolded that allowed us to mix our interest in Inuit culture and traditions, our love of mountains and our need to complete an Arctic Polar expedition before returning to Ireland.
If you wish to continue to see what happen on our new Adventure on Baffin please continue to our trip report 2 and 3 on our news items shortly.
Great Endeavour - Ireland's Antarctic Explorers by Michael Smith, author of An Unsung Hero - Tom Crean. It deals with 200 years of Irish exploration to the Antarctic, starting with Bransfield and Crozier in the 19th century, onto Crean, Shackleton, Keohane, etc in the 20th and then onto the modern day travellers such as Pat Falvey, Clare O'Leary and Mike Barry. Details on the publishers website - www.collinspress.ie
Michael Smith is delivering an illustrated talk on Great Endeavour at Killarney Library on Tuesday October 12 (7.15pm) and Cork Central Library on Wednesday, October 13 (7.30pm). Michael is also scheduled to give lectures for Mountaineering Ireland in Dublin and Cork on November 18 and 19 respectively, venues to be decided. For details, check with Mountaineering Ireland website, www.mountaineering.ie
Children's Book Festival
• Tuesday 5 October: Tipperary: Templemore Library 10 a.m., Thurles Library 1 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.
• Wednesday 6 October: Tipperary: Roscrea Library 10.30 a.m., Nenagh 1.30 p.m.
• Thursday 7 October: Waterford Library
• Friday 8 October: Waterford Library
• Saturday 9 October: South Pole Inn, Annascaul, Co Kerry, at 9 p.m.
• Monday 11 October, morning: Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Bandon, Co Cork.The teacher there, Mary Murphy, was involved in translating Tom Crean – Ice Man into Irish and is retiring (and she played Orla Fitzgerald's mother opposite Cillian Murphy in The Wind That Shakes the Barley).
• Monday 11 October, evening: D'Arcy's Restaurant, Kenmare, Co Kerry, at 8.00 p.m.
• Tuesday 12 October: Killarney Library 7.15 p.m.
• Wednesday 13 October: Cork City Library 7.30 p.m. Michael will also be in the library in the morning with the Children's Library, as part of the Children's Book Festival.
• Wednesday 10, Thursday 11 & Friday 12 November: Nenagh, Tipperary. This is part of a literacy promotion project based around Tom Crean – Ice Man.
• Tuesday 16 November: New Ross, Co Wexford. This is part of a literacy promotion project based around Tom Crean – Ice Man.
• Tuesday 16 November: Cloyne Literary & Historical Society, Ballymaloe House, Cork, 8.00 p.m.
• Wednesday 17 November: Lawlor's Hotel, Bridge Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, at 8.00 p.m., in association with Waterford Museum
• Thursday 18 November, in association with Mountaineering Ireland: Basecamp Outdoor and Travel Store, 108 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1
• Friday 19 November, in association with Mountaineering Ireland: Cork (venue to be confirmed
Skills weekend for Island Peak at Pat Falvey's Mountain Lodge in Kerry.
This weekend has seen all of the Hope Foundation team do their final preparation for their Everest Challenge and their climb beyond base camp to the beautiful 20,000 foot peak of Island Peak right in the heart of the Himalaya.
The weekend presented them with the final skills training required for the glaciers, head wall and narrow ridges that they will have to negoatiate to reach their objective of summiting Island Peak.
They went through, gear, cramponing with 12 spikes attached to their boots, ice axe training, including the art of falling, ice axe arrest, fixed rope techniques for dummaring up a 600 foot head wall and crossing the mountains narrow ridge. They also learnt the skill of abseiling for descending the exposed head wall as they retreat to base camp.
Their course was carried out at Pat Falvey school of Mountaineering at The Mountain Lodge based in the foothills of Ireland's highest mountains in Kerry and practised their skills on the steep head walls of the Gap of Dunloe as well as climbing along the narrow ridges of Coimin Na Peiste Ridge, the Big Gun and Cruach Mhor in what was demanding weather conditions.
Their was also gear review and the importance of team work on challenging mountain.
This weekend was attended by. Teena Gates head of news 98fm : Jenni Kavanagh actress in Fair City, Rob Ross RTE presenter: George McMahon actor: Philip Grey extreme artist: Rosaleen Thomas hope foundation: Ed O Donnell support team: David Walsh Support team.
The weekend was facilitated by worlded renowned adventurer Pat Falvey with his technical guides Con Moriarty and trekking guide Tony Nation.
See courses training
Lots of new adventures are coming up in the next twelve months as we expand our programs throughout the world. Contact us today at www.patfalvey.com
From being on the point of suicide, Pat Falvey clawed his way back to achieve the kind of success many would envy. Now an adventurer, businessman and motivational speaker, he tells Ciara Dwyer of the thrills, satisfactions and costs of a life that has had ups and downs, but has always been lived to the full...
writes Ciara Dwyer for Sunday Independent Review 29th August 2010
WHEN Pat Falvey was 29, he tried to commit suicide. The Corkman could see no other way out of his money troubles. Having started as a brickie, he had worked his way up to becoming a developer and an auctioneer. Now he had hit rock bottom. He was broke. A millionaire no more, the bank trying to get his family home. He had a wife and two young sons and he knew that he had failed them. With a heavy heart, he drove in the direction of the River Lee and accelerated. Just when his car was dangling four inches over the edge of the pier in Cork city he thought of his mother and stopped.
As he sits opposite me in The Four Seasons Hotel; bursting with vitality and good humour, his voice quietens as he talks of his near suicide. It is clear that telling the tale still moves him. Now 53 and solvent with an outdoor adventure company and a new career as an expedition leader and motivational speaker, Falvey knows how close he was to ending it all. He is lucky that he came through.
"It was one of the most disappointing periods of my life. I went into a state of depression. I was very angry, blaming anyone and everyone. I was lashing out. It was the bank's fault, it was the economy's fault and it was the government's fault: Finally I realised that it was my own fault. I went broke because I was greedy. I lost my self-esteem and confidence because I no longer had money. I didn't have 20 pounds in my pocket to put petrol in the car. My mother gave me a poem called Don't Quit and the words of that poem came back to me, as I was trying to end it all:"
He pauses, then quotes from it a little:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit, rest if-you must but don't you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far.
So, stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Reciting these lines, it's clear that they still give him solace. They saved his life.
"It's part of life to fail and part of life to make mistakes," he says. "My father gave me a Dale Carnegie book and it said that the first thing you have to do is accept where you are now. So I took up my trowel, the one that I had when I was 15 years of age and I went back to being a brickie. I ate humble pie."
This was not an easy thing for him to do. After all, this was the same man who had left school at 15 and announced to the world that he was going to become a millionaire. And that he did eventually. Although he had six siblings, Pat lived with his grandmother, who had been alone. She was a tough woman who taught him the art of sales and instilled in him his core values to this day - you have to work hard and keep coming up with ideas. She literally beat her philosophy into him - "If you think you can, you will and if you think you can't, you won't:" Under her tutelage he was selling second-hand clothes and later he branched out and bought a lawnmower with his savings. A self starter, Falvey had always worked hard and created his opportunities. He did everything in a hurry.
They used to call him "the galloping major' and "JR', such was his ruthless style. One year, he sacked 200 people in his company because he thought they were idling. Another time in the early days, when the bank manager refused to give him a loan for what seemed to be a good business deal, Pat called him a b*****ks and then stormed out. Nothing would get in the way of his success. He was hyperactive and hungry to achieve his goals: Along the way he married his childhood sweetheart Marie Horgan when he was 20. They had met in an athletics club when he was 14. "Your first love is an amazing thing," he says. Theirs was a happy life and very comfortable financially until Pat blew it and was on the brink of ending it all on the pier. That very same week, a guy called Val asked me to go hill-walking," he says.
Accepting that invitation changed Pat's life. Initially he had no interest in heading up the mountains, especially in his stressed state of mind. The only reason he relented was to get this man off his back. He had asked him several times. Walking in the mountains Pat forgot about his troubles. When he came back down, he was better able to cope with his disastrous situation.
"The hill-walking was therapeutic. Then all of a sudden I started to come up with new ideas:"
He figured out ways to fight back and finally he did. Sometimes these notions would sound harebrained but there is a genius in Falvey's madness. He tells me that Marie was a very patient woman but she often wondered what he would come out with next.'When I went broke, I said, `let's set up a bank with no money.' Marie asked me how I was going to do it. I told her that it didn't matter that I didn't have any money. In the end I set up a finance house and that's how I got back: Falvey cleared off all his debts and then he closed down his company. He tells me that if he was still in that business he would probably be in Nama now. But the business world no longer gave him the same thrill. He had other fish to fry. Since that first day hill-walking, he was hooked. After work he would climb Carrantuohill and then marvel at his energy afterwards and his fresh zeal for Iife. This was how he summoned the strength to get back on track. He went up the mountain a broken man and came down rejuvenated. The day he climbed Carrantuohill he swore that he was going to climb Everest.
These days, Falvey leads a thrilling life, living his dreams. The dynamic Cork man has climbed the Seven Summits, including Everest, twice, and been to the North Pole and South Pole. At the end of next month, he is bringing a bunch of celebrities, (including actor George McMahon and 98fm's Teena Gates who was 23 stone until she went into training last year) to Everest Base Camp. It will be part of an RTE programme and will raise funds for the Hope Foundation in the process. "The big thing is to show people that if they want to do something, they can do it. People need an objective:' He shows no signs of slowing down. When I ask him about his next trip, his blues eyes brighten with excitement. "It's going to be 10 times harder than climbing Everest," he says. And he should know. "I'm going to walk to the North Pole with Dr Clare O'Leary. It's the equivalent of 120 consecutive marathons. We could be skiing on four inches of ice with 10,000 feet of water under us:" Why? "Because I can and because I love it:" Falvey is a charismatic man and listening to his take on life is intoxicating. His optimism is relentless. He refuses to refer to our current economic climate as the recession - instead he talks of this as "a pre-boom era"; but he doesn't know how long it will last. He also thinks that people have stopped borrowing large sums of money and now they are all trying to have a reserve of cash. He believes that tightening our belts and not going on four holidays a year funded by a credit card is a good thing. It's about taking responsibility for our actions. When he gives his motivational talks, he often has a powerful influence on his listeners. One female executive told him that she was packing in her job. He had taught her that she only had one life and that she had better live it by being true to herself. One of his favourite lines is: "Life isn't a rehearsal, it's a performance." "I think motivation is common sense. What people need to hear is that you can succeed and to succeed you got to believe in yourself." Self-belief and determination got him through his many expeditions, which were in excrueiatingly difficult conditions. As part of his talks, he tells them his stories of these trips and how he kept going It's about survival. But it's not all hard graft. Falvey is all for fun too. He has set up a club for anyone aged between 50 and 90, called the Forever Young Club. The idea is that adults take their life savings out of the bank, put the cash in a rucksack and spend their children's troubles, just as he did when he inheritance having adventures around the world in a jeep.
For all his optimism, Falvey's life is not picture perfect and well he knows it. By the time he hit 40, he was spending almost six months of the year away, off on expeditions, sleeping in tents, studying different tribes. While he was fulfilling himself, his marriage was suffering. Thirteen years ago, he and Marie separated. Pat now lives in a mountain lodge in Kerry, where he runs his courses, and Marie has her life in Cork. "A lot of the time success has a cost. One of the greatest costs was my marriage. It hasn't been easy to be what I wanted to be. You wouldn't call me a perfect father by any stretch of the imagination, yet my kids love and respect me. And Marie said that I couldn't have done what I have done if we had stayed together. I have to have total and utter freedom. "My life is a very demanding life but you've got to get a balance. Maybe if I had got a balance in my earlier years,which I know now i could get, maybe things things would have been different. Successful people are very focused, a lot of the time at cost to others. But my life has changed from wanting to do things for myself to mentoring others." These days Falvey gets a great thrill from introducing people to the mountains and watching their joy as they achieve their goals. And he enjoys seeing people forget their trouble just as he did when he first went hill-walking. As he says, sometimes you have to stress a person so that they can destress.
"I've had an amazing life but I've f**ked up on an awful lot of things. People ask why I am successful. I tell them that it's these grey hairs. It's my age. I still make mistakes but I don't make half as many. Maturity has made me a nicer person." He points to his balding head and says that he is getting fat. Now he has liver problems and a bad back, but after 60-odd expeditions, these are simply the inevitable result of wear and tear. But still he fights back with his training and going to the gym. Falvey has been true to himself and achieved his ambitions. "I have done everything I said I wanted to do. " While away, he thinks about life and dreams up fresh plans. "When I'm out on an expedition it gives me time to reflect on my good and bad points. Some people can meditate under a tree - I need to be moving:'
He tells me that he isn't in a relationship. Is he lonely? "Loneliness is a state of mind. I haven't been without meeting people along the way but I'm not going to be at home. I have a very privileged life. Everybody leads their life their way. I could try to change my life and settle down but I choose not to change it. I'm selfish about my life and I live my life selfishly. I pay the ongoing consequences of that selfishness:' He shrugs and smiles. "You can't have everything," he says. He is content with his lot.
Find out more about Pats Profile and his Travel & Training divisions latest offerings.
original article by Ciara Dwyer for the Irish Independent newspaper
You can download the article as a PDF see below
One of the world's leading health food companies carry out further research with Irish North Pole team 2010, Dr Clare O Leary and Pat Falvey.
Initial tests begun in County Kerry with both athletes, today 21st August 2010, and they will be scientifically monitored over the next nine months to show the progress of their performance.
Testing, monitoring and product are being sponsored by Synery Worldwide, a division of Nature's Sunshine Products, a 38 year old industry giant which is highly respected in the herbal health industry.
Further updates will be posted for anyone interested on the benefits of using L-Arginine, which not alone should help performance but also help the process of aging.
Not that Pat Falvey needs that, but might make a difference!
See interview below!
For other interesting podcasts go to patfalvey.com's audio topics on, The For Ever Young Club, North Pole training and other interesting topics. Podcast interviews with David Norris, Gerry Ryan, Niel Prenderville and many more interesting interviewers - Pat Falvey Podcasts are available at www.patfalvey.com.