At the Mercy of the Winds Two Remarkable Journeys to the North Pole: a Modern Hero and a Victorian Romance
By: David Hempleman-Adams;
Genre: Autobiography - Biography, Travel,
Description: On 28 May 2000, explorer David Hempleman-Adams took off from Spitzbergen in Norway on his record-breaking flight to the North Pole. His fragile wicker basket contained tanks of liquid oxygen to allow him to survive at high altitudes, an inflatable raft in case he crash-landed in the freezing Arctic Ocean, together with ten days of emergency rations. He knew that if he survived the week ahead, he would be the first man ever to have reached the North Pole by balloon. Hempleman-Adams had chosen to fly in a basket, rather than in the sophisticated enclosed capsule favoured by round-the-world balloonists today, in order to pay homage to three Swedes - Salomon Andree, Nils Strindberg and Knut Frankel - who in 1896 had also taken off for the Pole in their hot-air balloon. Only David knew the emotional significance of their expedition, which was characterized not only by extreme bravery and the determination to survive in extreme conditions but also by a tragic love affair that transcended both its period and its setting. For the Swedish explorers had been brought down by freezing fog three days into their polar attempt, and perished some time afterwards on the ice cap. Thirty-three years later, their bodies were discovered. Close to Strindberg's outstretched hand was the engagement ring of his fiance, in his pocket the locket she had given him for his birthday, and in their frail whalebone tent his last letter to his love. In this adventure book, David tells the extraordinary stories of both journeys, featuring drama from his own expedition, and original photographs and documents from the Swedish voyage.