M'sian explorers reach North Pole five days ahead of schedule


KUALA LUMPUR: Three members of the Malaysian Seven Continents Exploration Club (KE7B) managed to complete their 111-kilometre skiing expedition to the North Pole at 5.06pm North Pole time (or 11.06 pm Malaysian time) yesterday, five days ahead of schedule.

KE7B advisor Datuk Akmar Hisham Mohd Yusof said he was informed about the news by expedition head, Muhammad Muqharabbin Mokhtarrudin, or Qobin, 35, via a satellite telephone call last night.

"Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), as our country has once again made history with Qobin, Shahrom (Abdullah) and (Muhammad) Irwan (Yusoff Abdullah), who are now known as North Pole explorers, and at the same time, bringing honour to Malaysia on the international arena.

"The trio have represented the country and skied to the North Pole with several other explorers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada," he said in a statement here today.

Qobin, who is also KE7B president, was a Mount Everest conqueror in 2004 and the first Malaysian to have climbed the highest peaks on all seven continents in 2010.

Joining him in the North Pole expedition were 38-year-old national duathlon, Shahrom and 37-year-old triathlon athlete, Irwan.

Akmar said, based on planning, the KE7B's 2017 North Pole Expedition, involving the pulling of a 50kg sledge from the Barneo Station to the North Pole, would take 11 days. The mission's success also served as a sweet birthday present for Qobin, who turned 35 yesterday, he said.

The advisor said he was told by Qobin that the last three-kilometres to the North Pole were the most challenging part of their journey, as they had to deal with wide ice cracks which they had to cross over. In addition, they were also disturbed by a polar bear that approached one of their tents on the third day of the expedition, causing them to be alert at all times, said Akmar.

He said after arriving at the North Pole, the explorers were flown back to the Barneo Station on a helicopter and the journey took about 35 minutes.

"I was also told by Qobin that they left the Barneo Station on a special flight to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, as the ice runway at the station was beginning to melt and crack.

"What matters now is that the three explorers are safe and perfectly healthy, despite facing the extreme cold weather of up to -40 degrees Celsius," said Akmar.

The Malaysian explorers left for Oslo, Norway, on April 4 before they camped in Longyearbyen for a week to acclimatise. Joining them were a support team led by Akmar and several media correspondents. The trio began their mission from the Barneo Station on April 14.

The expedition to the North Pole is KE7B's sixth mission after the seven peaks in seven continents climb in 2010, swimming the English Channel in 2012, Felda Everest Expedition 2013, Felda Greenland ski tour in 2014, and the 2015-16 South Pole expedition. -- BERNAMA