Australian trekking alone to North Pole nears death, saved by Canadian military

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 16, 2010 2:42 pm

Tim Smitheringale is perhaps both the bravest and dumbest man we’ve ever encountered. The Australian was on his way to the North Pole, alone, when he fell through an ice sheet. He was close to death when he was miraculously rescued by Canadian soldiers.

His goal? To become the first Australian to reach the North Pole unassisted. He was only 186 miles away when the accident happened. He wrote on his website: “Had a bad fall into the ice today and came very close to the grave.”

Tim, a personal trainer from Perth, activated his emergency beacon which relayed his position to rescuers and “luckily the Canadians were on military ops close by and I was off in six hours.

“Please advise everyone I’m okay and I’ll be in contact soon,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Tim reports that “he has got hypothermia; apparently, at this point it’s just mild. And he has very bad frostbite in his hands and feet.”

Tim was a soldier in the British Army for five years, so clearly he’s a tough guy. He was trying to go from McClintock Inlet at the northernmost edge of Canada to the geographic North Pole, pulling two sleds carrying a tent, fuel and supplies.

This adventure was not just to pad his ego. He was doing it to raise money for the Perth-based Burnet Institute, which is involved in research into TB, malaria and HIV.

Earlier, Tim had told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that he had begun to struggle after some six weeks on the ski journey.

“The mind is strong but the body is starting to struggle after it’s been coming up to… 50 days on the ice,” he said.