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McNair of NorthWinds triumphs!
Matty McNair beat her husband's 42 day dash time with paid client Tommy Avery.

New record for a Canadian led expedition is 37 days!

Is the "Ultimate North" expedition the ultimate Peary insult?

McNair-Avery challenge Canadian 42-day North Pole dash record

42-days to Pole (2000)
Landry & Crowley

?? days to Pole (2005)
McNair & Avery

"Ultimate North" hires record holder's wife to guide Tom Avery team
Is "Ultimate North" just another NorthWinds Adventure?
Barclays Capital has paid an undisclosed amount, estimated to be around US $100,000, to Matty McNair as the professional guide for the McNair-Avery joint Canadian/UK team in their attempt to beat a 42-day polar dash record set by McNair's husband Paul Landry with Paul Crowley in 2000. All three individuals (McNair, Landry, Crowley) are Arctic guides who own and operate NorthWinds adventures in Nunavut province, Canada. Tom Avery and his friends are clients.

Landry and Crowley stunned the Arctic adventurer fraternity in 2000 with their first time dash, in true Peary & Henson style, that showcased their exceptional athletic skill with dog teams. Their time to reach the Pole was only a few days slower than Peary & Henson achieved in 1909; but Landry & Crowley did not have the four teams of men ahead of them, as Peary had, building a trail. Landry and Crowley have set a Polar dash record not yet equaled. The question now is "can Tom Avery best it?"

Peary & Henson had 4 personal Eskimo helpers: Ootah, Seeglo, Ooqueah, and Egingwah. They followed behind 18 highly skilled (seasoned and experienced) men employing over 100 additional dogs who blazed a virtual roadway with daily igloo camps. The total team that left land was comprised of 24 men, 130 dogs, and 19 sledges.

The slowest part of Arctic Ocean travel is finding a trail through ice rubble and building passes over 30+ foot high pressure ridges. Peary had Eskimo scouts find the best pathways and plenty of muscle power to hack out footholds over the ridges of ice. Peary's road and igloo camp building allowed his elite team to save their energies for the final 130 (nautical) mile dash from the last team's camp to the Pole.

This brilliant feat of logistics was made possible by Civil Engineer Peary's 18 years of Arctic explorations. He had perfected, with his legendary field assistant Matthew Henson, all necessary aspects from sledge design to clothing and food.

No adventure team since 1909 has been willing or able to recreate Peary's method since it required an entire ship of supplies, the population of an Eskimo village, hundreds of arctic huskies, etc. Modern day teams such as the McNair-Avery attempt bring less resources to their attempt than one of Peary's five teams.

No one since Peary & Henson have had the many years of experience traveling over the treacherous Arctic Ocean they had. No one today would be willing to take the risks Peary & Henson had to take crossing leads barely frozen over with rubbery sheets of new ice by going "bear style", or of traveling up to 20 hours a day in a fearful dash back to the safety of land without a cell phone or any possibility of rescue. Only Landry & Crowley have so far demonstrated a comparable level of physical stamina and raw Arctic traveling expertise with dog sledges.

The remarkable Landry & Crowley 2000 dash was all the more spectacular when they became the first ever team since 1909 to turn around at the Pole and head back. In doing so they solved one of the secrets of Polar travel. Apparently the arctic huskies were as frightened to be hundreds of miles from land as men are; when they turned back the dogs followed their own scent and urine markings. The dogs became so excited to be leaving such a dangerous environment to return home that Landry was amazed at their return speed and the enthusiasm of the dogs. Peary had also found the return dash much faster than the laborious out bound trail making.

A Scotsman who reached the Pole with dog teams in 1969 required a year of traveling and had massive airplane support with some 56 tons of supplies dropped on the ice that included electrical generators, broadcast radios, gourmet food, a bathtub, etc.

The North Pole is approximately 7 degrees of latitude from the last point of land at Cape Columbia. Since each degree of latitude is 60 nautical miles the total distance is about 420 nautical miles. One of the keys to reaching the Pole is to employ lightly loaded sledges. Peary limited his to 400 pounds. The Scotsman tried to haul 800 pound loads and the Avery team apparently have 650 pound loads. The effort for dogs to pull heavy loads, and for men to lift them over pressure ridges can greatly slow progress.

Peary & Henson made three polar dashes over the Arctic Ocean starting in 1900 until they succeeded in 1909. No other team has ever tried more than twice. But second time success was achieved by 1) the 43 day snowmobile expedition of Ralph Plaisted (1968) and 2) Richard Weber and Mikhail Malakhov (1994?) who walked, incredibly, to the Pole and back to land! The 2005 McNair-Avery speed challenge to break the 42 day Canadian record will only be one of dozens of such failed efforts. Perhaps Avery will need 2 or 3 tries until he gets it right, or gives up as his fellow UK Polar enthusiast Fiennes finally had to do. Fiennes froze his fingers forcing him to cut the dead tips off with a fret saw.

In fact the annual April arrivals at the North Pole have been described by one filmmaker as zany. People parachute in, fly in for the day to drink champagne, others chop a hole in the ice and dive under the Pole, and at least one has even arrived by hot air balloon. People fly in to be married, others pay for adventure trips in which they ski the last 1 degree of latitude (60 nautical miles). No one has yet arrived on an elephant or bicycle.

After the successful 1909 expedition Peary was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society in London. His last book Secrets of Polar Travel (1917) is a classic that summarizes his vast arctic experience. Co-discovered Henson published a remarkable magazine article with photos taken by his own camera and later his excellent book A Negro Explorer at The North Pole. Both explorers are buried at America's most prestigious resting place; Arlington National Cemetery.

(above) UK Gals on a NorthWinds adventure. Matty McNair wrote On Thin Ice about her adventures as a paid guide leading groups of British housewives to the Pole. She is now leading Tom Avery and his pals on their Arctic dog sledge outing.

(above) Peary's brilliant engineering skill left this marker at Cape Columbia that still stands today as the McNair-Avery expedition recently discovered.
(below) Peary's 1909 diary page
The Greenland Eskimos regarded Henson as "the greatest of all men who came from the distant land of the south."

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