April 16th, 2010
11:17 AM ET

Arctic explorer going for North Pole record escapes icy grave

Tom Smitheringale had to abandon his attempt to be the first Australian to trek to the North Pole unassisted after he fell through the ice.

An Australian arctic adventurer came close to an icy death Friday when he fell through an ice sheet about 190 miles (300 km) from the North Pole, according to his blog.

Tom Smitheringale, on a bid to become the first Australian to trek to the North Pole unassisted, had to be rescued by Canadian authorities after setting off an emergency beacon, Australian Broadcasting Corp reported.

"Had a bad fall into the ice today and came very close to the grave," Smitheringale said in a post Friday on his blog. "Activated the epirb and luckily the Canadians were on military ops close by and i was off in 6hrs."

Jim Pizzey, a member of his support crew, told ABC that Smitheringale's use of the EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) could only mean one thing.

Watch Smitheringales's interview with ABC on Youtube: Part 1 | Part 2

"We knew from the beginning that if his EPIRB ever went off it was serious, the satellite phone was for everything else and the EPIRB was for life-threatening [situations]," Pizzey told ABC.

"All's good and I'm getting the VIP rockstar treatment," Smitheringale said from a medical center in Alberta, Canada, ABC said. "Please advise everyone I'm okay and I'll be in contact soon."

"From what I have gathered he has level 3 frostbite of some of his digits and mild hypothermia. He's going to be OK," Pizzey said on the blog.

Earlier, the situation appeared grave, according to Pizzey, who updates Smitheringale's exploits on the blog.

"He appears to have fallen through the ice and has become hypothermic," Pizzey wrote.

Smitheringale was forced to end his quest through the arctic because of the incident.

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Filed under: Australia • Canada • Weather • World
soundoff (269 Responses)
  1. Debbie

    he is no worse than the "adventurers" climbing mountains is inclement conditions, or extreme sports idiots, skiing in avalanche zones etc. who pays for their rescues?

    April 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Que pasa

    Personal achievements are cool, as long as the rescue costs him, personally.

    April 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Opa

    This is a waste of money and risks lives. I'm sick of thrill seekers who get into trouble and risk others' lives in order to save themselves. Enough already.

    April 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. adam

    As long as he pays for his own rescue then great for him.

    April 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carmen Vazquez

    I am amazed at the small-minded, mean-spiritedness of some people. The world crises and bad economy must really be getting to some folks. Whether this guy is smart, dumb, foolish or whatever, he did not intend to cause anybody any trouble. For crying out loud! People get into tough situations everyday and sometimes have to be rescued by police, firemen, etc. What the hell, life is life and this guy doesn't owe anybody a thing but his gratitude. If your little child falls into a creek and is rescued by a millitary person, or a passerby, does the child's parents have to pay for the rescue–after all, it was their negligence in not keeping an eye on their child–etc., etc. This is the most stupid waste of readers' time. I am appalled at the lack of Christianity in some of the attitudes reflected here. All you jerks could think of was the almighty dollar. REad the bible, get a life, go on a retreat and cleanse the cobwebs from your soul. No wonder the world is going to pot. I hope you all never need someone's help. You all SUCK!

    April 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Blah

    It's not extraordinary and he's not pushing the bounds of human endeavor. Plenty of people have been to the north pole, he's just bored. I pity Canada for having to rescue his hide – hope they bill the Aussie gov't. for the effort.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TT in Tampa

    He was not exploring! He was trying to go to the North Pole alone. We've been there before... quite often actually. I'm all for the spirit of adventure, but this ill-advised quest was selfish and stupid.

    His failed adventure was no more important to mankind than Bobby and Cindy's unsuccessful attempt to set the teeter-totter record.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mikey

    Everyone! You are missing the bigger story here. Forget that he tried something extraordinary and failed. He's okay. Forget the cost of the rescue...people get rescued from accidents for drunk driving.

    But it clearly says that he fell through the ice a mere 300km from the north pole! In April! I could picture it if we were talking about walking across a Canadian lake in early spring after a mild winter. But hey, we're talking the Arctic Ocean! Wouldn't be surprised if 2010 turns out to be a new record low ice coverage by September.

    Btw...hope our brave explorer is recovering nicely and is a little better prepared for his next try...like bringing a friend along to help...leaving a month or two earlier perhaps (don't forget the flashlight).

    April 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Benjamin Wager

    The rescue negates the idea of doing something daring or "pushing the limits" of the "human experience". The cliches spewing forth from the defenders are hilarious – I bet most wouldn't know adventure if he/she were faced with it. Memphis slim is right about true heroics (along the lines of altruism). It's about time our generations grows up and condemns such silly, self-absorbed antics.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    Why does everyone focus upon the person when the focus should be on why he fell through the ice so close to the North Pole.

    April 20, 2010 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Norman

    I like Carlo. He ventured to state a bold comment. It started a string of ideas coming out of real people.

    April 20, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. C Olivera

    The fact that he fell through 300 km from the North Pole is very scary. I wouldn't have thought the ice would be so thin there.

    April 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim Savage

    I'm going to start building a rocket to send me into orbit. I don't have re-entry and landing figured out yet but I figure that I will launch anyway. If I can't figure out how to get down I figure NASA can build a custom rocket with the appropriate mating interface to my airlock to come and save me at the expense of billions of tax payers dollars. I can't wait to brag to all my friends that I went up into space and they didn't!

    April 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gedichte

    Hello from Germany! May i quote a post a translated part of your blog with a link to you? I've tried to contact you for the topic Arctic explorer going for North Pole record escapes icy grave – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs, but i got no answer, please reply when you have a moment, thanks, Gedichte

    May 20, 2010 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
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