Three British explorers fighting to survive a gruelling trek to the North Pole finally resumed their journey Friday after receiving vital supplies of food, fuel and equipment, organizers said.
"After being stationary for what seemed like a very long time, given the minus 40 degree Celsius temperatures, it's great to feel the snow under our feet again", explorer Ann Daniels said in a statement from the London headquarters of the Catlin Arctic Survey.
The team had endured "an anxious three day wait," Daniels said, rationing emergency supplies of food, as bad weather repeatedly prevented a supply plane from reaching them.
On Wednesday, a flight from the remote Inuit hamlet of Resolute on Cornwallis Island in northern Canada finally reached them, after three failed attempts.
The group -- Pen Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels -- set off on an 85-day hike to the North Pole on February 28 to measure the thickness of sea ice.
But as bad weather hampered supply flights, they were down to half-rations and battling desperate sub-zero weather conditions waiting for a break in the weather.
Hadow, speaking after the pilot made a safe landing, recounted how it had been a "pretty grim time waiting for the weather to lift."
The North Pole, he said, is "no place to just hang around" when temperatures drop below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
The team aims to gather data to complement satellite and submarine observations to measure the sea ice and plot how fast it is disappearing during their 850-kilometer (530-mile) trek.
Global warming is believed to be the main culprit in the rapidly melting north polar ice cap that is freeing up new sea routes and untapped mineral resources on the ocean bottom.
The expedition now expects to arrive at the North Pole in late May.
(c) 2009 AFP
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