Q&A with North Pole Expedition Leader Jen Buck

By  Claire Byrne June 17, 2009

What is like to guide a group of 12 women to the North Pole?
Women are less afraid than men to admit weakness. There’s a lot of talking and negotiating, a lot more caring. It’s drilled into us from birth to look after others!

What did you most crave most during the trip?
It’s good when you start craving the food you have with you. It’s a sign that you’re happy. When people are unhappy, that’s when they start to want a burger! I looked forward to the chocolate in my lunch bag.

Of course, we were more than happy to have a shower after a total of 18 days (including one week's training in Siberia) on the ice.

What were your thoughts as you skied?
I was usually thinking about navigating. It was too cold to use the GPS, so we used the sun, Greenwich Mean Time and the shadows for direction - a technique I learned from Richard Weber (famous Canadian polar explorer). There was one woman whose family had written messages on her skis, like "Go Ma!" She'd look down every now and then for encouragement.

What’s the most difficult thing in a polar trek?
The hardest part for inexperienced people is staying warm. When we arrived at the Pole, we had to stand there for an hour and a half while NASA set up a live web link. Usually, in those temperatures (-30 to -40ºC), you would be moving every 30 seconds!

What was the highlight of the trip for you?
The highlight for me was when one woman, who from the outset thought she wouldn't be able to make it, suddenly snapped out of it and realized 'I can do this'. That was great.

Click here to read the feature article about Jen's trek to the North Pole.

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