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Pole to Pole duo finish epic journey


Two intrepid young explorers have reached Sydney, Australia, after a year-long man-powered trek across the world to raise awareness about climate change.

Young Britons Rob Gauntlett, aged 20, and James Hooper, aged 21, sailed into Sydney Harbour on 9 May on board the yacht Blizzard after reaching their final objective in raging seas - the magnetic South Pole.

The pair set off in April 2007 from the North Pole on a journey that took them from the Arctic to the Antarctic via the Americas.

On 24 April they reached the ever-shifting magnetic South Pole - currently at around 63 degrees S and 138 degrees E, just off the Antarctic's Adelie Coast.

Walking, cycling and sailing 22,000 km (13,500 miles), Rob and James kept in touch with the world using an HNS 9201, an Inmarsat BGAN terminal loaned by our partner BT. Airtime was sponsored jointly by BT and Inmarsat.

During their travels they highlighted mankind's destructive impact on the environment, while travelling - for the most part - using only man-powered means.

Dangerous moments
Along the way they experienced some harrowing moments, as well as plenty of stunning scenery and good old-fashioned human kindness.

On one occasion, Rob fell through the ice into freezing waters as they crossed the Arctic. But, fortunately, James quickly pulled him out and used the BGAN terminal to call a rescue helicopter to rush him to hospital.

And hours before reaching magnetic South, a raging storm up-turned their boat, causing havoc inside the cabin

This terrifying incident helped prove the resilience of the ruggedised BGAN equipment and laptop PC, which remained watertight and undamaged below deck.

Weeks earlier, in warmer climes, their BGAN helped them relay video blogs from El Salvador in Central America, where they highlighted how deforestation has made the soil vulnerable to erosion, exacerbating the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters.

After reaching Patagonia in Argentina at the southern-most tip of South America, Rob also took time to explain - via video blog - just how useful BGAN has been during their journey.

"It really helps to have satellite gear that allows us to always be in contact in a really modern way," he said.

"Basically it provides us with broadband speed internet [so we can] set up the terminal and download all our emails and stay in touch."

They sailed into Sydney harbour on a boat manned by three professional mariners.

During the expedition they have also been raising funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and The Prince's Trust.

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