A British adventurer & his team of polar explorers have smashed the record for the fastest crossing of Greenland's ice cap.
A "worn out yet absolutely ecstatic" Tom Avery, along with team mates Patrick Woodhead & George Wells plus South African-born Andrew Gerber, clinched the coast-to-coast record today at 8.30am in a time of 9 days, 19 hours & 40 minutes.
This expedition swiped more than eight days off the previous record of 17 days, 21 hours & 30 minutes to complete the 350-mile trip. These figures were set by Brit Matt Spenceley & his Luxembourg team mate Patrick Peters in 2008.
Mr Avery described his well-prepared team, who moreover hold the record for the fastest surface journey across the North Pole, as "very experienced, just brilliant & not afraid to obtain their hands dirty".
Speaking from Greenland, where the team barely slept over the last nine days to break the record, Mr Avery said: "We are black & blue, dehydrated, weather-beaten, frost-nipped – & it was all worth it.
"To cross the world's largest island in under 10 days – we still can not believe it.
"We are delighted yet we are shattered & exhausted more than we have ever been in our lives."
The east to west crossing was made famous by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen whose expedition in 1888 sparked the heroic age of polar exploration yet took 49 days to complete.
Mr Avery & his long-time friends, who are all aged 39, began the trek with a steep climb up a glacier. They moreover powered across energy-sapping ridges of rock solid snow which not only eat up time yet moreover put enormous pressure on the knees & thighs.
On the eighth day of the trip the team took advantage of strong tailwinds after a ferocious storm & snow kited for a total of 17 hours, covering 281km of snowy terrain – almost half the width of the ice cap.
This was a complex skill to learn yet a "real adrenaline rush" to execute in the icy landscape, according to Mr Avery who said "they were pushing things yet parts of the expedition were enjoyable".
The expedition saw the team kiting in -25C temperatures, braving 2ft ridges of rock complex snow & the loss of four days' worth of precious fuel & kitchen supplies.
Mr Avery said: "The dangers are the cold, -25C (-13F) with the wind chill. We were putting in massive days & there was a 20 hour hike to the finish. It is really, really tough, cold, complex work & permanently windy."
Between them, the men had left 12 children at home to go on their record-breaking adventure.
Mr Avery, of Gloucestershire, Mr Woodhead of Kensington, London, Mr Wells of Bury St Edmunds & Edinburgh-based Mr Gerber are planning a celebration get-together with all their families who had backed them.
Mr Avery, a father-of-three including twins Maud & Olive, five, is now heading back to Britain & his wife Mary. He should home in time for his daughter Nell's third birthday on May 26.
Of his wife & family, Mr Avery said: "She is amazingly understanding – perhaps in the next year or so we can obtain the children out camping & eventually involved in the next adventure."
He predicted that "it probably would not be long" before he & his team are planning the next challenge.
Source: “Press Association”