Chinese scientist Liu Shaochuang planted his national flag at the North Pole on Saturday after successfully completing a 56-day odyssey to become the first Chinese to reach the pole alone on foot.
The 39-year-old arrived at the pole at 5pm Friday, fulfilling his stated ambition to travel from Asia alone on foot, and find a suitable route for China's future Arctic exploration.
"He was the first Chinese to ski to the North Pole alone and almost without backing," secretary general of the Polar Research Committee of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Liu Xiaohan, who is in Beijing, told Xinhua. The Arctic explorer works with the CAS Institute of Remote Sensing Application.
According to the official, Liu Shaochuang had spent more than 30 days skiing on snow covered ice, pulling two sledges loaded with basic supplies and scientific instruments.
"He skied about 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles) . In the middle of this, he once returned to his base to repair equipment and then employed a Russian plane to fly him over a section of rapidly south-moving ice," said the official.
He said the Western media gave wide coverage to his exploits, mostly expressing admiration for the man's courage and fortitude.
"The temperature of the Arctic area is usually 30 to 40 degrees centigrade below zero (-22 to -40 fahrenheit) and there are frequent snowstorms and encounters with polar bears," said the general secretary.
The official said Liu Shaochuang had volunteered to make the Arctic trip. The Institute of Remote Sensing Application agreed to cover the expenses, as he was to do research work along the way.
He said that before this trip, Liu Shaochuang had participated in numerous exploration activities in China.
(People's Daily April 29, 2002)