Book retraces an explorer's North Pole steps

Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:07am EDT
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A century ago this April, an American named Robert Peary and a companion either stepped foot on the frozen North Pole, or they didn't.

The debate over whether Peary became the first person to reach the pole on April 6, 1909 has raged for decades.

Skeptics say Peary lacked evidence to back up his claim that he reached the pole from the northernmost reaches of Greenland in just 37 days of sledding over a mostly frozen ocean, across 413 nautical miles (about 500 miles).

A new book aims to settle the debate. British explorer Tom Avery recreated Peary's trip in 2005, using methods similar to Peary's, and beat his time by a few hours.

He describes the journey in "To the End of the Earth: Our Epic Journey to the North Pole and the Legend of Peary and Henson."

Avery, one of only a handful of people to reach both poles on foot, spoke with Reuters about Peary, the Arctic and what frost bite feels like.

Q: Did Peary reach the Pole?

A: "I'm convinced, more so now than ever, that he reached the pole. We used the same kind of dogsleds, the same breed of dogs, we navigated the same way he did. The crux of the debate was the speed, and we have shown that it is very possible."   Continued...