A Clonmel-based doctor is part of a team that’s preparing to launch a historic expedition to the North Pole.
Dr. Clare O’Leary, a consultant at the South Tipp General Hospital, and Mike O’Shea are hoping to become the first people to walk to the North Pole in over four years and the first Irish expedition to walk there.
The duo spent a night in a freezer, experiencing chilling temperatures below -20 Celsius, to simulate the Arctic conditions they will face on their trek to the North Pole, and to test all their gear.
Dr. O’Leary, a specialist in gastroenterology at the Clonmel hospital, is the daughter of Alice and Kevin O’Leary, the motor group owners from Bandon in Co. Cork who have a garage in Clonmel.
Clare O‘Leary and Mike O’Shea are widely regarded as one of the strongest teams in the world and are well positioned to make the expedition, known as the LifeProof Ice Project journey, a success.
The pair completed both the fifth crossings of the North Patagonian Icecap and Lake Baikal in 2012 and 2013. Temperatures in the North Pole in February drop to a bone-chilling 55 degrees below zero. With the constant drifting of ice in the opposite direction and a sled weight of 80kg per person, the daily grind to overcome is enormous.
The expedition, dubbed “the hardest in the world”, is the energy equivalent of running two marathons daily for around 50 days consecutively.
To reach the North Pole is the pinnacle of Arctic expedition endeavours and one of the last for an Irish team to achieve.
Changes to the jet stream facilitated decent conditions in advance of their departure from Ireland. It has been predicted that current conditions may not be replicated, meaning this could be one of the final opportunities to reach the North Pole by foot.
The 778km expedition will begin at Cape Discovery on the north coast of Canada. Many more people have been into space than have successfully walked to the North Pole, making this a truly historic expedition.
The LifeProof Ice Project journey may be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/IceProj.