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Chinese Scientist Plans Solo North Pole Trek

A Chinese adventurer, Liu Shaochuang, left Beijing Thursday for Moscow to start his solo Arctic trip.

Liu said that the trip across the Arctic ice is a scientific expedition, which will help fill in a gap in China's North Pole studies.

If the 1,000 km trek is successful, the 39-year-old scientist will be the first Chinese adventurer to complete an unaided trek across the ice from the tip of the Asian Continent to the North Pole.

An academician with the Remote-Sensing Application Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Liu took part in China's first Arctic expedition in 1995. The seven-member team covered over 200 km to reach the North Pole from Canada.

This time, not only will the trip be longer, but it will be traveled alone. The solo tour is scheduled for March 1st, and Liu has taken out an insurance cover of 100 million yuan.

"Spring is an ideal season for an Arctic adventure," he said. "It is too cold to travel on the ice in winter, and some of the ice surfaces may become unstable if the weather is too warm."

He expects the temperature to be as low as 30 degree Celsius below zero during the trip.

Although Liu is taking only the bare essentials he will still have to pull over 160 kg in the sledge he bought from Britain.

In order to train for the sledge pulling, Liu has spent several months getting fit by pulling heavy tires.

He said that he is confident of his physical strength. The only worry will be to have nobody to talk to on the journey, which would be "shattering."

Most of the necessities are food and fuel. The food, which is mainly chocolate, beef jerky, ham and oatmeal, will guarantee the explorer 6000 calories daily and Liu says that he will cook twice daily.

Liu will bring with him an Iridium satellite phone to keep contact with the outside world. He is expected to arrive at his destination around May 1st, and will meet a camera crew from China Central Television and the Phoenix TV, which will take him home back by air.

Another two foreign expedition teams may be on the same route at that time. They will each independently finish the trip.

Russia's polar research departments have set up an emergency rescue base in Khataga to provide rescue backup for the expeditions, in case of an accident.

Men started adventures to the North Pole as early as 1900s. Scientists and explorers from many countries arrive in the polar region by various means every year.

(People’s Daily February 22, 2002)

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