TWO Huddersfield businessmen are helping to sponsor one of the most arduous expeditions ever undertaken in the history of exploration.
Jack Cleghorn and Peter Wade, directors of Edgerton-based pH Europe, are supplying specialist aviation fuel for Sir Ranulph Feinnes’ winter Antarctic voyage The Coldest Journey, which leaves London on Thursday.
The two men have also offered to sponsor the involvement of King James’s School at Almondbury and Honley CE Junior School.
The Coldest Journey is aiming to do something which has never before been achieved. Feinnes and his team are attempting to trek the 2,000 miles across the Antarctic on foot – in WINTER.
Temperatures drop as low at -70ºC, or -90ºC with the wind chill factor, and virtually the whole trek will be undertaken in complete darkness.
Previous crossings have only ever been made in summer, and this is the first time ever that a permit has been granted for a winter voyage. A winter crossing is regarded as the last great polar challenge.
The explorers will wear high-tech battery-operated heating panels to help them survive the cruel conditions.
Although the journey will be undertaken on foot, the team use Caterpillar-like vehicles to pull sledges loaded with equipment and prefabricated cabins knows as cabooses. It is these tracked tractors that the pH Europe fuel will power across the ice and snow.
The Edgerton-based duo operate a network of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and logistics. Their international client list includes well-known names like Estee Lauder and BASF.
Sales director Jack Cleghorn, who has spoken on the phone several times with Sir Ranulph Feinnes, 68, said: “We were contacted by a major oil company about two months ago and we were very excited and proud to be part of the expedition. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in a world record bid.
“Nobody has been more than 60 miles inland in winter before. The weather will be extreme and there will be no hope of rescue.
“It is absolutely frightening, but it makes me glad to be British.”
Commercial director Peter Wade added: “There is a strong educational programme with The Coldest Journey. This sort of thing really inspired and excited us as kids, so we have approached a couple of local schools with a view to sponsoring the educational package for them.
“They will be able to interact with the expedition ship and get material for scientific experiments.”
The expedition has taken many years to plan and coincides with the 100th anniversary of Scott’s fatal Antarctic expedition.
The team hopes to raise US$10m (£6.5 million) for Seeing is Believing, a worldwide charity which aims to prevent avoidable blindness.
The Coldest Journey’s education website aims to inspire a generation and will be made available to 100,000 schools around the Commonwealth.
Pupils will be able to see webcasts, interviews and blogs of the explorers and undertake projects based around the expedition. Two-year access costs £400 + VAT for a secondary school and £150 + VAT for a primary or nursery school.
Details can be found at www.thecoldestjourney.org/home/education