Leith explorer joins team to be first to reach furthest North pole

Nico Kaufmann is undergoing intensive training for the journey. Picture: Contributed
Nico Kaufmann is undergoing intensive training for the journey. Picture: Contributed
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An Edinburgh man is taking part in a world record attempt to visit the last pole in the Arctic yet to be reached by mankind.

Nico Kaufmann is to embark on one of the most ambitious polar expeditions of our time; to be the first in history to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. Defined as the furthest point from land on the Arctic Ocean and therefore its centre, the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility is more than 250 miles further than the Geographic North Pole.

A map of Nicolai Kaufmann's route to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. Picture: Contributed

A map of Nicolai Kaufmann's route to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility. Picture: Contributed

The 30-year-old is one of 28 ordinary people from across the globe who will endure temperatures as low as -30C to collect crucial data about the sea ice, weather, pollution, waste and polar bear population to ultimately help us survive.

The group, led by the founder of Ice Warrior Jim McNeill, will venture 800 miles from the northern shores of Canada in February 2019 and will take-in the North Magnetic Pole en route.

Nico, who develops radar systems for global hi-tech 
company Leonardo, is undergoing a comprehensive and intensive training programme to take on one of four 20-day legs, pushing the route across the Arctic Ocean.

He said: “I’m very pleased to be taking part in something which will help save the planet. It is a real privilege to be involved in an expedition as important as this.

“To be in the environment there will be incredible. To go somewhere no one has been before is so exciting because we do not know what we will find. When I told my wife she thought I was a bit mental. But she is supporting me and now I’m excited to go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.”

The Northern Pole of Inaccessibility was established in 1927 by Sir Hubert Wilkins, by aircraft but was recently re-positioned by Jim McNeill and NASA-funded National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) scientists using modern 
satellite technology. Around 75 per cent of Arctic Sea ice has been lost in the past 35 years with more open water absorbing the sun’s radiation.

The expedition will provide “crucial data” to scientists in helping to understand the current condition of the Arctic Ocean. Nico, who lives in Leith, is under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge that awaits him, but is determined to put 100 per cent into ensuring he completes it.

His next training programme will see him go to Svalbard, an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, to meet up with his teammates who come from the UK, India, Mexico, Austria and France.

He said: “The hardest part for me will be the freezing temperatures at night when trying to get to sleep.

“I’m running and at the gym a lot making sure I’m in a good condition. You need to be completely committed to do this because it will be the biggest thing I have ever done. I’ve spent a lot of time and money into doing this but it is a unique opportunity and will have many stories to be able to tell the grandkids.”

Expedition leader, Jim McNeill said: “I’m delighted to have Nico in the expedition team and look forward to training him in every aspect which will make him a competent polar traveller.”

kieran.murray@jpress.co.uk