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Pen Hadow on isolation, perseverance and the poles | Dialogue (Global)
2 min read

Pen Hadow on isolation, perseverance and the poles

Introducing Pen Hadow, a polar explorer and ocean conservationist who never gave up, regardless of the cold, isolation and mental struggle he encountered on his way to the North Pole

A world-leading explorer, who has led an array of high-profile marine research expeditions and pioneering achievements in the North Pole region, Pen Hadow is now dedicated to protecting the Arctic Ocean’s threatened wildlife and ecosystem as the sea ice recedes.

In 2003 Hadow became the first person to trek solo, and without resupply, across the Arctic’s sea ice from Canada to the North Geographic Pole – a feat that took three attempts over 15 years, and will likely never be repeated due to climate change. He is also the first Briton, without resupply, to reach both the North and South Geographic Poles from their respective continental coastlines.

Pen Hadow has written books, including the best-seller, ‘Solo’, self-filmed a TV documentary for National Geographic, presented a series on BBC Radio 4, and contributed to numerous TV documentaries and books about adventure and exploration. 

I would say 20% of it was physical, and 80% is what goes on your head and how you manage that

Pen Hadow on reaching the North Polo solo

 In an exclusive interview, we sat down with him for the first episode of our Empower Hour podcast, where Pen shared with us his inspirations, obstacles and sheer determination to achieve a goal so seemingly out of reach. He talked us through his journey to get to the North Pole and what his two previous attempts taught him about perseverance and endurance.

“I can say this looking back, when I didn’t succeed in 1994 – I took that as a crushing failure. And it was quite public, reported in the papers. But I didn’t give up, I was determined to do this thing. In 1998, I got much closer – but in some ways I had failed again. In 2003, on the third attempt, I succeeded.

And looking back, I can now say with absolute confidence, that in my view, they weren’t just even temporary setbacks. They actually were the essential opportunities to work out to learn how to do it. I did break down in detail where I had gone wrong in the first attempt and second attempts – and by breaking those barriers down into smaller parts as I needed to do before I could put them back together again.”

Pen’s story shows us that anything we want can be achieved by firstly working out a process, then grinding through the steps no matter what happens. Eventually, even after multiple attempts and failures, you can still reach your own ‘North Pole’.

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