Polar explorer Pen Hadow started prepping at a young age for his unusual career. For the first six years of his life, he was subjected to an "Arctic conditioning" program at the hands of his elderly nanny, who had refined her methods while looking after Sir Peter Scott, son of legendary British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. To toughen him up, she made Hadow play outside with no shoes, in little more than shorts and a shirt, during the Scottish Highlands’ rough winters. The early training paid off: In 2003 he became the first person to walk alone (swimming when he had to) from Canada to the geographic North Pole without air resupply—a feat no one has ever repeated, though several have died trying. He’s still doing things the hard way. This month he sets off on a 1,245-mile, $8 million polar odyssey on foot, towing an innovative radar unit designed to penetrate ice and gauge its exact thickness. The new application will capture the first true measure of the ice cap—and help scientists determine how soon it will melt. ADVENTURE caught up with Hadow shortly before his departure.
Published: February 2009The Life: Pen Hadow
Pen Hadow: Hard Science
Expedition leader Pen Hadow’s next Arctic trip may prove his toughest—just the way he likes it.
Photograph by Martin Hartley