Led by the Norwegian Polar explorer Børge Ousland, Filipina Samelene Bernardo Pimentel settled for and reached the Top of the World.
Børge Ousland, called the “leading polar explorer of our time”, was last April leading a team of five on an expedition that required traversing the vast Arctic Sea on the Arctic Ocean that was 4000 meters deep, over constantly drifting ice. Add weight up to 40 kilos for equipment and provisions, in freezing minus 40° temperature and howling winds, for a distance of 111 kilometers, someone must have wondered, “Are we having fun yet?”
A Girl Named Sam
As a child, Samelene “Sam” Bernardo Pimentel had always been inexplicably drawn to the North Star. When she got older, she realized that she couldn’t reach that star. So she settled for the True North instead – literally the Top of the World, the North Pole.
On April 21, 2015, she became the only Filipina in a team of 5, who reached the 90° north.
The takeoff point was at Longyearbyen, Svalbard. From there, the team flew to Ice Base Barneo, a floating base camp where a helicopter took them to the drop-off point at 89° Parallel. They were supposed to ski for 11 days, to reach the 90° Latitude North. They arrived there in 5.
The Philippine Marines prepared Sam for the expedition through 90-days of grueling endurance training. She also spent several days in Norway training for winter survival and learning to ski.
Børge Ousland has crossed the Antarctic from coast to coast, followed the footsteps of Roald Amundsens and opened way to others. He is a climate advocate and exclusive member of National Geographic Society. He has been in close encounter with snapping polar bears and won, paddled in competition with unpredictable walruses – victorious again, and when he married he said “yes” on the North Pole and spent the wedding night in an expedition tent. You must be a tough guy to write books with titles as “Winter Without Mercy”, “A Man and the Ice” and “Ravenously Hungry”.
Why do people challenge themselves so such a degree? Regarding Samelene Bernardo Pimentel and Børge Ousland we are tempted to paraphrase a famous old ad, supposedly used for Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition in the 1900s, “Men and women wanted for hazardous journey. High costs, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return not guaranteed. Honor and recognition in event of success.”
Only Filipina Who Has Reached the North Pole, written by Tor Kjolberg
Source on Pimentel: Rappler.com