Pen Hadow

Pen Hadow
Born (1962-02-26) 26 February 1962
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University College London
Occupation Polar Explorer, author
Known for First solo trek, without resupply, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole

Rupert Nigel Pendrill Hadow known as Pen Hadow[1] (British, born 26 February 1962), is an Arctic Ocean explorer, advocate, adventurer and guide. He is the only person to have trekked solo, and without resupply by third parties, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole;[2] became the first to have trekked without resupply to both the North and South Geographic Poles; and is the first Briton to have trekked, without resupply by third parties, to both the Geographical North and South Poles from the respective continental coastlines of North America and Antarctica.[3] Pen also led the multi award-winning international research programme, Catlin Arctic Survey (2007-2012).

Early life and education

Hadow was educated at Temple Grove School, a former independent school at Heron's Ghyll in East Sussex, and then at Harrow School, an independent school in north-west London, where he was Deputy Head of School and captain of the School's 1st XV rugby and 1st XI Harrow Football teams. In 1977, while at Harrow, he re-instated the school tradition of Long Ducker, a 20 mile run from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Marble Arch and back raising £101.58 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Fund.. Though reported at the time by the school's Headmaster as having last been run in 1927, the school commissioned research in 2014 into the Long Ducker which found that Hadow was the first recorded person to have run the full distance. The running of Long Ducker has since become one of the school's major annual events involving pupils, teachers, support staff and parents and can annually raise in excess of £100,000 for charity each year. He attended University College London and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Geography in 1984.

Life and career

Hadow worked at Mark McCormack's Sports Organisation from 1985–1988, acting as an agent representing the European equestrian interests of International Management Group (IMG). He managed IMG's relationship with the Swedish Equestrian Federation to deliver the funds, through corporate sponsorship, to underwrite the staging costs of the inaugural World Equestrian Games in Stockholm (1990). The Games brought together for the first time the world championship events of the six disciplines under the jurisdiction of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI): dressage; eventing; vaulting; carriage driving; endurance; and show jumping.

In 1995 he set up The Polar Travel Company Ltd offering guided expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, and most notably the North Geographic Pole. In 1997 he organised the McVitie's Penguin Polar Relay, the first all-women expedition to the North Geographic Pole involving 20 British women, operating in five teams of four accompanied throughout by two professional Canadian guides.

Hadow is an Honorary Vice-President of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, an Honorary Vice-President of the Scientific Exploration Society, and an Honorary Patron of the British Exploring Society. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Exeter (2004), and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Plymouth (2009). He accepted a World Technology Network Award (Environment) on behalf of the Catlin Arctic Survey in New York (2009).

North Pole

In 2003, Hadow trekked 770 km from Ward Hunt Island, Canada to the Geographic North Pole in 64 days becoming the first person to complete the journey solo and without resupply. He started the trek on 17 March 2003, pulling a 265lb sledge and arrived 19 May. Of the 850 hours travelling across the disintegrating sea ice, he swam part of the way wearing an immersion suit when he encountered open water or thin ice.[1] His book 'Solo: Alone & Unsupported to the North Pole' (published by Michael Joseph) recounts the journey.[4]

South Pole

In 2004, Hadow partnered with Simon Murray for a trek to the South Geographic Pole.[1] The 1,200km trek started 5 December 2003, on Antarctica's Zumberge Coast, approximately 120 Km to the east of the traditional Hercules inlet start point, and was completed on reaching the South Pole on 28 January 2004.[1] Murray (63) became the oldest person to reach the South Pole from the continent's shoreline;[5] and the expedition raised US$450,000 for the Royal Geographical Society (London)[6]

Arctic Surveys

In 2009, Hadow organised and led an exploration team to survey the thickness of the winter-spring sea ice in the northern Beaufort Sea area (Arctic Ocean). Its purpose was to provide a new source of information from the ocean's surface to help project how long before the perennial sea ice cover would cease to be a year-round surface feature of the planet .[7] The expedition, known as the "Catlin Arctic Survey" after lead sponsor Catlin Group Limited, an international speciality insurance and reinsurance company, covered 430km in 73 days,[8] with Hadow accompanied by Arctic explorer, Ann Daniels, and photographer Martin Hartley.[9]

The Survey's observations, viewed in the context of decades of existing measurements by submarines, satellites and buoys, led Professor Peter Wadhams of the Polar Ocean Physics Group (University of Cambridge) to suggest the Survey's work added further evidence to an emerging view that there is a significant probability that by 2020 only 20% of the Arctic Ocean basin will have sea ice cover in the late summer. Professor Wadhams also suggested that by 2030–40, there is a significant probability that the Arctic Ocean's sea ice cover will be transformed into an ice-free open ocean in summer times.[10]

Catlin Group Limited continued its support of the Arctic Survey in 2010,[11] with a scientific focus on ocean acidification [12] and in 2011 [13] on thermo-haline circulation.[14]

In 2010 and 2011 the Surveys, delivered by newly-formed Geo Mission Ltd, involved two inter-linked field research components: a seasonal (winter/spring) research base located on the sea ice of the Gustav Adolph Sea on the edge of the Arctic Ocean (off Ellef Ringnes island) amongst Canada's northern most Queen Elizabeth islands, and a 300 – 450km transect of the Arctic Ocean surveyed by a team of explorers in the winter / spring. Scientific papers are now in publication by the participating research groups.

Hadow, Chip Cunliffe and Martin Hartley co-edited the book, 'Catlin Arctic Survey: Investigating the Changing Arctic Ocean Environment', published by Polarworld (2013).


  1. 1 2 3 4 Adler, Claire (Autumn 2003). "Pen Hadow". UCL People: 2.
  2. "After 64 days, 478 Miles, -45C, Pen Hadow makes History by walking Solo to the North Pole" The Times Newspaper Tuesday 20 May 2003
  3. "Records set in Pole expedition". BBC News. 29 January 2004.
  4. The Independent. London Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. "Desert Island Discs" 01.04.2009 BBC Radio 4
  7. Home – Arctic Survey
  8. Catlin Group Limited was a Bermuda-based specialty insurance and reinsurance company. Catlin operated six underwriting hubs worldwide and operated more than 55 offices worldwide. It owned the largest syndicate at Lloyd's of London, based on 2011 gross written premiums.[2] Catlin shares were listed on the London Stock Exchange until it was acquired by XL Group plc in May 2015.
  9. Shukman, David (14 October 2009). "Arctic to be 'ice-free in summer'". BBC News.

External links

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