Whitsunday couple share tale of expedition to the North Pole
MOST people couldn’t fathom standing in freezing temperatures surrounded by walls of white fog 480 miles from the North Pole, but for Whitsunday couple Jack and Amy Close, this was their reality.
The couple embarked on the expedition of a lifetime with a Dutch billionaire, his wife and 10-year-old son and four crew on board of a converted ice-breaking tug boat named Lars.
Leaving Holland in March of 2012, the group transited the Norwegian coast before punching up to Svalbard – a series of islands approximately 500 miles from the most northern point of Norway.
Every time the crew went ashore of Svalbard, they had to be armed due to the potential danger of being killed by polar bears.
Despite this, Mr Close described seeing the giant bears in their natural habitat for the first time as one of the highlights of the expedition.
He said the crew was saddened by the number of polar bears feeding on the decomposed carcasses of seals and slowly starving to death.
Facing ice glaciers more than 700km long, Mr Close described huge walruses passing wind on the embankments and old ruins of abandoned coal mines and whaling stations.
With the ambition of getting as far north as possible in the ice (82 degrees), the crew travelled up the east coast of Svalbard before heading into uncharted territory.
“It was great weather in clear water and as we ventured north it started to close in and we had to crack the ice and move it,” he said. “We got to 81.45 degrees so we were 480 miles from the North Pole.”
The crew returned to Norway in September of 2012 and disbanded.
The couple returned to Australia in February this year and currently reside at their home in Airlie Beach.
DARING EXPLORERS: Chief stewardess Amy Close with her husband and chief engineer Jack Close are pictured less than 500 nautical miles from the North Pole in front of a driftwood sign that points to Airlie Beach that they constructed with other Lars crew on their expedition in August 2012.