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24 September 2014
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Title - Extra Norfolk

Benedict Allen: Into the icy wilderness
audio. Listen to Benedict Allen talk to the BBC's Andy Archer
(RealPlayer, 28k)
benedict allen and dogs
Icy challenge: Benedict Allen prepares for adventure

Explorer and
graduate of the University of East Anglia Benedict Allen takes to the wilds of Siberia in his latest TV series.

In Ice Dogs, the adventurer attempts a 1,000 mile sledge trek across the Bering Strait with 10 husky dogs during Siberia's worst winter in living memory.

Benedict, who studied Environmental Sciences at the UEA, has already explored the Amazon, New Guinea and Sumatra but this time he faces new challenges.

Filming himself in temperatures of up to minus 40 degrees, Benedict, 41, attempts to win over the dogs' confidence as he sets off, first with two local guides, and then entirely alone with just his animals - all on a challenging diet of raw whale, walrus and seal meat (livened up with Benedict's home comfort, a dash of Tabasco sauce).

"I knew if the ice broke and I went into the water I would have 20 seconds to live"
Benedict Allen

"We didn't get off to the best of starts, as the dogs suddenly started chasing a stray dog, pulling me and the sledge onto the ice - I knew if the ice broke and I went into the water I would have 20 seconds to live," said the explorer.

"I had taken the latest high-tech clothing to protect myself from the immense cold, but I soon realised it was designed for men marching to the North Pole... if only it had been that easy for me, sitting exposed on a sledge.

"My guides gave me layers of reindeer skin to wear, weighing 15 kg, which was identical to the protective clothing worn by Arctic explorers over a hundred years ago - so much for modern clothes.

"Even then there were times when I literally forced myself to stay awake all night and keep wriggling my fingers and toes to prevent frostbite."

Benedict says his time at the UEA in Norwich was the ideal inspiration for his adventurous career.

"As a boy I wanted to be an explorer, I was fascinated by the world out there and the Environmental Sciences course is world renowned.

"I could study everything around me - ecology, botany, climate, people - it was a wonderful education and I did three expeditions in my final year, launching out into the world. It was brilliant for me."

You can find out how Benedict coped in one of the most hostile environments on earth in Ice Dogs, on BBC Two, Tuesdays, at 7.30pm.



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University of East Anglia

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