HEADING FOR THE POLE: A convoy of Toyota Hilux bakkies made it to the North Pole.

Scientists who needed to set up seismic monitoring equipment on the quivering flanks of the Icelandic volcano that shut down air traffic in Europe had to get to the summit in a hurry.

And, presumably, down in an even greater hurry. After all, nobody wants a load bed full of red-hot lava.

The experts knew the volcano was about to blow and chose a pair of Toyota Hilux bakkies to take on the challenge of scaling the Eyjafallajökull crater only a few hours before it erupted.

The bakkies had to cross ice and snow, as well as naked rock, so were prepared by specialist firm Arctic Trucks to the same extreme environment specification as the Hilux used by Jeremy Clarkson and James May for their historic polar expedition.

That included the giant low-pressure 38" tyres you see in the images taken on the mountain.

With Europe's most advanced aircraft rendered powerless by the ash-filled atmosphere, Hilux once again proved itself the master of everything man and nature can put in its path.