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The Turner Twins Question Greenland

The Turner Twins aimed to trek across the huge polar ice cap of Greenland, an awesome landscape of high peaks, gigantic glaciers, crevasses, frozen lakes and endless square miles of icy plains. It is the world’s largest national park and one of the loneliest and most inhospitable places on earth, blasted by cruel polar winds where temperatures hardly ever go above freezing. It is home, however, to polar bears, reindeer, the artic fox and wolves. Seals and whales also live along the coast. 

A desert waste, the frozen ice cap dominates almost the entire country. Although Greenland is four times the size of France, over 75% of the country is covered by the cap - the only ice sheet outside Antarctica. 

The twins know what they are taking on. It is a very dangerous place and Greenland’s government is so worried about people’s survival on the ice cap it will only issue permits to explorers who are serious and follow the strictest safety procedures. 

In the north, sea-ice is a permanent feature. High mountains along the Greenland coast are skirted by large glaciers that move colossal amounts of ice out to sea. With the threat of global warming, the statistics are frightening. It is estimated that if the Greenland ice sheet were to completely, the world's sea level would rise by more than 7m (23ft).

Unfortunately the twins' expedition had to be prematurely cut short.

A dramatic helicopter rescue in the eye of a severe Arctic storm signalled the end to the hopes and dreams of the Turner Twins' polar expedition, as reported by BBC TV News.

A doctor treating Hugo Turner's leg injury and back problems at the remote, isolated DYE-2 former American 'cold war' radar station in the middle of the polar ice cap had already confirmed it was impossible for him to continue. Hugo, who broke his neck some years ago was thought to be in peak fitness before the trek, but had been in excruciating pain for days.

The twins had been surprised to find five American military personnel undertaking aircraft ice landing and other training close to the DYE station, when they arrived after trekking the ice cap for several days. Luckily a doctor was among the group and able to help in the emergency.

The twins, with George Bullard, their polar expert guide, spent an agonising 48 hours considering their options and whether just two of them would go on with the trek in the light of worsening weather and minus 30 degrees blizzard conditions. The longer they waited with Hugo the more they were depleting vital food rations too.

But finally a warning from the American military not to carry on with the expedition put paid to their dreams. Two other polar adventurers had just been rescued from further ahead, one had lost both legs and the other had serious face injuries because of extreme frostbite. The team reluctantly made the decision to call off the trek.

Abandoning the expedition left the twins feeling crushed and dejected after 18 months of planning and preparation for the assault on the polar ice cap.

Close to tears after the evacuation, Hugo said: "We agonised over the decision to cut the expedition short. I clearly could not walk so there was no option for me and I know the others wanted to go on but it just was not safe. There was little option but to get out."

"I have never been in such an extreme environment. Every decision you make is a life and death one. There is no room for error and when things go wrong they go wrong very quickly."

Ross added: " I just feel hollow and empty. It is devastating after all our work and all the support everyone has given us. I don't regret going. I have seen some of the most beautiful things I have ever seen up here. But it is also the most terrifying place any of us has ever been to."

"We want to pay tribute to the twins and to their polar guide, George, for their heroic effort on behalf of Spinal Research," said Jerry Doyle, Head of Communications at the charity. "It is heart-breaking for Hugo that he was hit by injury but after the warning from the military and local experts not to continue, it was best to cut the expedition short."

The team arrived safely back in Kangerlussuaq in western Greenland, sorted out their cargo transport arrangements and flights, and will soon be home in the UK. They are expected to undertake a series of talks and engagements on returning.

The need for funding is as urgent as ever and if you were able to show your support for Spinal Research in recognition of the heroic efforts of the twins, they would know it had all been worthwhile.