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Chinese North Pole Adventurer Scares Away Bear
Chinese solo adventurer Liu Shaochuang, en route to the North Pole, told Xinhua via his satellite phone Wednesday that he fired his rifle to scare away a polar bear which had been stalking him for two days.

Polar bears are man-eaters, and Liu was forced to stay alert night and day as the animal followed him. When a flare failed to scare away the bear, Liu fired a shot in the air from his rifle, and the uninvited guest took the hint.

Liu is a remote-sensing expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He kicked off his trek dragging 200 kg on a sledge from the northern tip of Komsomolets, Russia, on March 3.

If his 1,000-km trek across the Arctic ice is successful, the 39-year-old scientist will be the first Chinese adventurer to complete an unaided crossing of the ice from the tip of the Asian Continent to the North Pole. He is scheduled to arrive at his destination by May 1.

He is currently covering the most challenging part of the journey -- latitude 80 degrees to 83 degrees north. This part of the ice is subject to melting every summer, and with the effect of ocean currents the ice becomes uneven and difficult to traverse.

He said that in order to complete 10 km in a straight line daily, he has had to detour several dozens of km to avoid big ice cracks and ice piles as high as two-story buildings.

Liu has battled snowstorms, and the overnight temperature has gone down to below 40 degrees Celsius. However, he is currently in good health.

His colleague Liu Xiaohan, at the Beijing-based Remote-Sensing Application Research Institute of CAS, said that even if the adventurer does not manage to reach the North Pole, he will still basically attain his objectives.

The rest of the journey will be easier, with a relatively flat and steady ice surface and the weight he has to carry gradually decreasing, said Liu Xiaohan.

He also told Xinhua that the adventurer will complete a number of research tasks, which include validating ground data for China' s remote-sensing pictures of the North Pole region and collecting data on the effects of the Arctic climate on the human body.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2002)

Scientist Plans Solo North Pole Trek
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