CHARITY trekkers have faced blizzards and howling winds during the first days of their fundraising trip to the North Pole.
Longwood man Mike Dann, 27, and his friends Simon Edmundson and Tim Tottenham, both 26, are one of 15 teams taking part in the Sony Polar Challenge 2006.
They are completing the 350-mile race across frozen wastelands to raise money for Huddersfield teenage cancer charity The Laura Crane Trust.
Engineer Mike, who divides his time between Longwood and the Isle of Wight, went to Greenhead College with Laura before she died from cancer in 1996, just days after her 17th birthday.
So far, the three adventurers have raised £9,600 for the charity - but are hoping for a final total of £10,000.
This is in addition to the £30,000 they had to raise for their trip.
Mike, Tim and Simon left the UK on April 4 and flew off to the town of Resolute in northern Canada.
Dann said: "As well as learning the specifics of this environment and coping with temperatures which have so far been as low as minus 35 centigrade we have also learnt to appreciate some appalling jokes.
"We have spent most of the last few days laughing.
"Unfortunately Simon has very mild frostbite on the end of one finger which was a warning to all of us to be more carefull when operating in the cold and it is a lesson we will heed well.
"We have made a lot of changes to our equipment and have arranged new pulks (sledges) following the mini expedition as the original sledges split along their length due to rubble frozen in the ice, a good lesson learnt for the real expedition."
They are currently training with Matty McNair, the world's most experienced female polar guide, in preparation for the challenge.
She led the first women's relay to the North Pole in 1997.
They are soon to begin a four-day trek to the race start line at Polaris, on the north edge of Cornwallis Island.
They expect to reach the start line on April 15.
They will be walking 20 hours a day in temperatures of -25°C, avoiding icy lakes and deadly polar bears in their bid to win the race.
Last year's winners completed the course in 10 days.
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