Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 14, 2014 - 2:15 pm

Frozen toes force trekker to turn back from Arctic journey

"It’s a great disappointment to end up that way”

DAVID MURPHY

A French adventurer had to be rescued near Taloyoak March 12, nine-days after he set out on a planned 80-day unassisted, unsupported polar journey from Kugaaruk to Qaanaaq, Greenland.

Vincent Cochin activated his Spot GPS device around 8 a.m. that day after he realized some of his toes were frostbitten.

RCMP spokesperson Yvonne Niego said a Taloyoak search and rescue team was deployed as soon as Cochin activated the safety device. About 12 hours later, crews picked him up.

“He was rescued [with] non-life threatening injuries. And I don’t believe he’s able to continue on his trek though,” Niego said.

Cochin explained what happened in a blog post March 13.

“During that first week, I endured a three-day blizzard and very windy days as cold as minus 35 C,” Cochin wrote.

Cochin said his trek was going well until the night before he had to be rescued.

“I spent so many years and money for that journey, it’s a great disappointment to end up that way,” Cochin wrote.

“I feel like that I let down everyone, friends and partners, who helped and supported the expedition,” he said.

“I’m very sorry.”

A documentary being made about Cochin’s journey, called Into the Midnight Sun posted the news about Cochin’s rescue March 13 on its Facebook page.

“After a dangerous turn of events, early [March 12] Vincent Cochin was forced to prematurely end his expedition due to serious frostbite on his feet,” a Facebook status reads.

“Twelve hours later as nighttime set in, search and rescue was able to locate him and bring him to Taloyoak. Medical staff say he should retain use of his toes and recover well.”

Although the documentary crew said the expedition “failed” they are still proud of Cochin.

“We can’t help but recognize the integrity of someone pursuing a dream of this magnitude knowing how much risk and uncertainty is involved,” Into the Midnight Sun’s  page said.

“To not try would be the true failure.”

Cochin was trying to break the record for the longest unassisted, unsupported polar journey — that means no resupplies, no dog sled, snowmobile or assistance of any kind.

The current record is held by British outdoorsman Alex Hibbert, who trekked 2,211 kilometres across Greenland in 2008.

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