Ahead of the Borne Arctic Challenge, we met up with renowned explorer Alan Chambers MBE, as he prepares to pack his sled for his 15th expedition to the North Pole with our team of fundraising volunteers.
Alan, what’s it really like being an explorer?
I kind of fell into the exploring world about 22 years ago. I was part of the first team in the world to ski across Iceland in winter, and then really caught the bug – North Pole, South Pole, Greenland, across the Himalayas, Africa. It’s quite an exciting life in a way, dangerous sometimes but that’s what I love about it. The goal you set is uncertain and you really have to work together as a team. I like bringing a team together for one common purpose and its always a challenge.
What was your motivation to become an explorer?
I served 18 years in the Royal Marines and just before I left I led the first British unsupported team from Canada to the North Pole, so the transition became really easy and I loved the adventure and travel. One thing led to another and I followed that pathway for a while. I’m now part of a group called the Extreme Leaders and I deliver speeches, team development and motivation, including working with vulnerable children with special needs. It’s a great leveller, anybody can achieve in the adventure world if they apply their mind.
How many times have you been to the North Pole and have you see it change over the years?
This will be my 15th expedition to the North Pole. Over that time the ice and the temperatures have changed. I’ve seen the same scientists over the years and even though I’m not a scientist, from my own perspective, the conditions affect my leadership. If we have bad ice I have to adapt the route and direction.
What do you look forward to when you get to the North Pole?
As a leader I’ve got a bit of a different mindset, I’m constantly looking out for dangers, risks and keeping everyone safe. I don’t get the luxury to drift off or have much headspace. But it is quiet and peaceful which is good for the soul and you have the chance to give one thing 100%, rather than rushing from one thing to the next as we do in normal life. That’s what the team will need, to apply themselves 100% day and night.
How do you think Team Borne are going to cope with the challenge?
They’re a strong team of individuals. Each one is strong in their own field or expertise and in their fitness levels and approach. We’ve really got to bring each person together to become one team. They’ve all been training individually so when we get them all to Norway, we’ll have about three days for them to train as a team before we start the trek to the North Pole.
What are the dangers the team will face on the trek?
There are four main dangers – the extreme cold, the shifting ice floes and if the ice gets thinner there’s a danger of falling into water. And obviously its polar bear country! Last season we saw 32 polar bears and we have to take precautions such as trip wires and perimeter fences around the tents as well as carrying a firearm. There’s also the physical aches and pains, cuts and bruises, which the team will need to manage themselves.
How much food will the team have to eat to keep them going?
They’ll be consuming food throughout the day. A couple of thousand calories at breakfast and then every hour, we’ll eat around 1500 calories during the day and then another 1500 in the evening. Food is fuel, its not just for energy its to keep you warm. People who don’t eat enough food will get colder, the cold extracts calories out of you so it’s essential to keep them going.
Why did you get involved with Borne?
Its an incredible charity, I’ve only been involved since the planning began around a year ago. The research the charity is doing will not only benefit people in the UK but the world. It’s a big undertaking for a charity to do this challenge. That just shows the dedication of the team members and the charity to put themselves out of their comfort zone. There’s a bit of pressure on me to get them there but the team will be able to focus on why they’re doing this and it will help them dig deep to get them to the top of the world.
Read more about the Extreme Leaders here.
To support the Borne Arctic Trek visit our JustGiving page here.