Corey McInerney, hopes to be the youngest person to replicate a 1943 escape across the Arctic Circle - just after he finishes his school exams.

Corey McInerney
Corey McInerney

Corey McInerney is currently studying for his A levels - as well as getting ready to trek 245km across Scandinavia.

Corey, who is in his final year at Lismore Comprehensive School, has just been selected to join a group of adventurers from across Ireland and the UK for ‘Expedition 70N’, which will retrace the steps of Norwegian commando, Jan Baalsrud, who trekked across the Arctic Circle to escape the German army during World War II.

Corey McInerney

Corey McInerney

“My uncle runs the AwOL outdoors centre in Aughnacloy, so he was the one who initially forwarded the application form to me,” Corey explained. “About 312 people applied online and, after we completed a fitness test, the numbers were narrowed down to 60. We then had a fitness challenge on the beach, which involved four hours of constant exercise with one minute breaks.”

During the beach selection challenge, Corey and his competitors had to complete a series of rigorous exercises in order to qualify for the final group of six:

“The point of the beach challenge was to see how you cope under duress - in between exercises, we had to lie down in the water for a length of time. There was a ship’s bell on the beach that you could ring if you felt you couldn’t carry on with the challenges; if you rang that, you were out. We were never in danger, but it was a real test of how your body survives under stress.”

After making it through the beach challenge, Corey received the news that he had made it into the final six. The team come from all over Ireland and are mostly in their 20s and 30s, making Corey the youngest team member at the age of 18 - but he won’t be easily deterred. “I work in the outdoors at my uncle’s centre,” Corey shared. “I take people out kayaking and abseiling - I’ve been doing that from the age of about 13. My uncle is adventurous, though he’s a bit old to take on this challenge - so he’s passing it on to me!”

The Expedition 70N crew are taking a team of 20 from across Ireland and the UK to make the trek across the Arctic Circle at the beginning of next year, and Corey will undergo intense training over the next few months with the hope of making the final cut.

Jan Baalsrud’s original trek in 1943, which has been called ‘the other Great Escape’, took two months - during which the commando was forced to amputate nine of his toes to prevent gangrene. With the help of some slightly more modern equipment, the Expedition 70N team hope to complete the trek - across Norway, Finland and Sweden - in just twelve days. “Theoretically, it can be done in twelve days,” explained Corey, who hopes to study Astrophysics at university. “There has been research into it - but no one has actually tried it yet.”

Despite the fact that Corey could be among the first to even try to replicate this journey through the toughest of conditions, he is ready to be pushed to the extreme:

“We have to do sleep deprivation tests - which involve staying awake for 36 hours at a time - while doing different tasks, and I travel down to Drogheda twice a week for various training sessions. I play Gaelic, too, so I already go to the gym quite a lot.”

Although neither Corey nor his fellow teammates plan to have to amputate any limbs, they will be paying very close tribute to Jan’s trail of endurance:
“Because we want to authentically recreate his experience, we will be on the same basic diet as Jan, and in authentic 1940s clothing and using 1940s gear throughout. “It’ll be a serious adventure.”

You can track the progress of Expedition 70N over the next few months, and watch video diaries from the contestants, by visiting