Interviewer: Alex Morales,
a journalist, and Joanne Butcher, who works with children,
are about to embark on a journey through the most inhospitable
place on Earth - the Arctic. It is more than a year since
they applied to go on an expedition advertised as 'a hazardous
journey' with 'a safe return doubtful'. Jim McNeil, the renowned
Arctic explorer, is leading the Ice Warrior project, aiming
to reach all four North Poles in one season, which if successful,
will be a world record. Such a task, you may assume, must
surely be undertaken by highly experienced travelers. Does
that describe you, Joanne?
Joanne: Er, no! I'd never even skied
before we did the training to prepare for the expedition,
so I spent a lot of time falling over at first.
Interviewer: Now, Jim McNeil's motto
is, even 'ordinary people can do extraordinary things'. So
Alex, what does it take to turn from an ice novice into a
Alex: The most important thing is building
up mental resilience, as the conditions are pretty miserable
at times. Although we are a very close team, we'll be walking
alone in single file for a large part of each day with just
our thoughts to keep us company.
Interviewer: Now you two were strangers
when you met at the first of the training weekends, weren't
Joanne: Yes, each member of the group
was sent an email telling us to meet at a certain map reference
on a set time and day. We were given the phone numbers of
the other people in the group and told to get there in as
few cars as possible.
Interviewer: Now, you'll be battling
extremely low temperatures. What training have you done for
Alex: Well, a major part of the training
was a three-and-a-half-week trip to the Canadian Arctic to
learn how to manage body temperatures. One day I took my gloves
off and literally in about 15 seconds my fingers felt like
Joanne: But, surprisingly, heat can
be a problem too. Once we only had T-shirts on because we
were pulling a sled all day. You have to be careful not to
sweat as it can freeze on to you and plummet your body temperature.
Interviewer: How difficult is it to
prepare for such a trip?
Joanne: Well, we've both been putting
on some weight to help maintain body heat, but at the same
time we've had to pursue a healthy diet for fitness levels,
as pulling the sleds containing all our equipment and supplies
requires a huge amount of body strength. Pulling tyres in
the local park has been a regular activity for me. I've had
some odd looks from people, but it's the closest thing to
pulling a sled.
Interviewer: It all sounds very hard!
But presumably, there have been some good moments that have
made you want to carry on?
Joanne: Yes, while were training in
Canada, a few of us had been off the ice for a few days because
of flu. We were transported back to the rest of the team on
a skidoo and when we saw them, they were all looking out at
the horizon. When we tracked their gaze, there was a polar
bear with two cubs roaming on the ice. You just can't describe
Interviewer: Well, talking to you,
I can see that you're both full of excitement and relishing
the challenge that lies ahead. Am I right?
Joanne: I have got so much from it
already, just by being able to survive somewhere like that.
People ask me how I can enjoy it. Well, I just do!
Alex: I reckon I'll find it difficult
to slip back into everyday normality when I get back. I might
get itchy feet and want to go somewhere else. Let's see how
many fingers I come back with first!