Adventurer rescued in Icelandic drama

Alex Hibbert on one of his earlier expeditions
Alex Hibbert on one of his earlier expeditions
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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STRANDED and needing help, Alex Hibbert did what people have done for generations – called his dad.

But the 25-year-old from Portsmouth’s problem was a bit more pressing than most.

The Hibberts, from left dad Richard, Oliver, Alex, and Suzanne         Picture: Malcolm Wells (083071-5471)

The Hibberts, from left dad Richard, Oliver, Alex, and Suzanne Picture: Malcolm Wells (083071-5471)

He was stuck in temperatures of -10C – and he was in Iceland.

Commodore Richard Hibbert, a Royal Navy officer of Old Portsmouth, then called the local Solent Coastguard, based in nearby Lee-on-the-Solent, at 12.09am on Wednesday.

They passed the information on to Falmouth Coastguard, in Cornwall, who deal with international issues, who in turn contacted coastguards in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.

From there, local teams were co-ordinated during a five-hour rescue in the dark to reach the beleaguered pair from the Vatnajokull glacier.

His father said yesterday: ‘In the space of a few hours the storm had whipped up very quickly and the situation was very harrowing.

‘We had been in touch with them for the whole trip so Alex knew if he called us he would definitely get a response and we would be able to summon help.

‘When he phoned he was very calm. He’d been through a lot on his expeditions so he’s learnt to keep focused during emergencies.

‘I told him we would get help and called the local coastguard, who were very understanding and set the wheels in motion for a rescue.

‘The tent had been shredded to pieces by the storm and once you have no shelter there is no way you can continue with an expedition.

‘By the end they were just wrapping themselves in the tent to keep warm.

‘The rescue went smoothly and when I spoke to him on Wednesday night he was just about to enjoy a well-deserved hot bath.’

Alex was making a treacherous 120-mile trek with climber Finn McCann when they became trapped by storms at the edge of the notorious Vatnajokull ice cap.

Battered by 80mph winds, Alex – who completed the longest unsupported polar journey in history aged 22 – described their tent as ‘a tiny tomb’.

In temperatures of -10C, the tent collapsed and its poles snapped, forcing the pair to wrap the canvas around them to keep warm.

Despite the problems, Mr Hibbert said he wanted to go back to complete the expedition.

Speaking from Iceland, Mr Hibbert, who now lives in Battersea, London, said: ‘We reinforced the tent defences to stop any further damage while we waited 24 hours for the skidoo rescue team, who were brilliant guys.

‘We were disappointed to miss the final few miles. I’ll certainly return for another go.

‘Tough expeditions are like that. You can’t always have it all.’

Coastguard spokesman Fred Caygill said: ‘We are pleased that we could assist in the rescue of these two British men from their situation.’