Army veteran in bid to set Greenland ice cap record

07 May 2015: British Army veteran Peter Bowker will rely on Inmarsat to keep him connected at the top of the world as he attempts to become the first amputee to make an unsupported crossing of the Greenland ice cap.

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Peter is part of the five-strong 65 Degrees North team of former British Army and Royal Marined personnel and a doctor who will set out on 7 May to cover 600 km (373 miles) on skis, pulling sleds loaded with all their food, clothing and survival equipment.

Their kit will include lightweight mobile satellite communications gear which they will use for medical and emergency back-up and to share their adventure in real time with the media and supporters.

Telemedicine link

Crucially, team doctor Meinir Jones will be able to use one of the ultra-portable Explorer 510 BGAN terminals, supplied by Inmarsat partner Cobham Satcom, to liaise with medical specialists back at base if she has any concerns about the effect 10 hours a day on skis and the harsh conditions are having on Peter’s amputated limb, sending images or conducting live video consultations.

As well as all airtime, Inmarsat is sponsoring the bid with two IsatPhone 2 satellite phones, plus solar panels and wind-up batteries for recharging.  

The robust IsatPhone 2 handset is specially engineered for the toughest environments, and has an unrivalled battery life of eight hours talk time and 160 hours on standby. It also offers reassuring safety features – an emergency assistance button which sends GPS location data and a text message to pre-set contact numbers, and a tracking capability which transmits location information.

High latitudes

Despite being at the outer reaches of the Inmarsat-4 satellite coverage area, the team will be able to access simultaneous voice and broadband data communications 24/7 throughout their arduous challenge, which is expected to take 24-30 days.

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Temperatures on the ice sheet can fall to -37°C, and the team will have to watch out for polar bears.

Andy Start, President, Global Government at Inmarsat, said: “This is an extraordinary challenge and we are very proud to be part of such a unique adventure.

Effective communications

“Effective communications will be key to the team’s success and we know our technology is perfectly suited to help support the 65 Degrees North team on their challenge, no matter what the conditions.”

Senior Patron of 65 Degrees North, Major General Andy Keeling, said: “On behalf of the whole 65 Degrees North Team, I would like to thank Inmarsat for their wonderful support. The timely and generous state-of- the-art communications equipment has guaranteed us peace of mind on all fronts.

“Families, supporters and donors will now be able to track us and talk to us, and of course our ability to deal successfully with any unexpected medical problem is hugely enhanced. Inmarsat has also massively enhanced our safety, and undoubtedly significantly reduced risk, and increased our chances of success. We are all very grateful.”

Peter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being injured and medically discharged in 2012, is making the record attempt to raise funds for UK charity Help for Heroes. 65 Degrees North is supported by the Endeavour Fund, set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to support sporting and adventure challenges undertaken by wounded, injured and sick service personnel or veterans.

Find out more about Inmarsat’s support of 65 Degrees North here.