Wednesday, February 10, 2010
North Pole 2010: Expedition To The Pole of Inaccessibility is Postponed
According to Wide World Magazine, Ice Warrior Jim McNeil has cancelled his planned expedition to the North Pole of Inaccessibility due to dangerous and unstable conditions out on the ice. You may recall that the initial plan was for Jim would make that long and arduous journey, along with 28 hand-picked explorers who were willing to join him for specific legs of the trip.
The team had just completed four weeks of very intensive training in preparation for the journey when the decision was made to pull the plug on the expedition. Jim and his companions were preparing to travel to Resolute Bay, Canada in a few weeks time to start their trek, but the meteorologists there are reporting that the ice is in terrible condition, and doesn't look to be improving in the weeks ahead, which could lead to very dangerous conditions for those venturing out into the Arctic. Because of these reports, McNeil decided to postpone the expedition altogether, and make another attempt next year, saying "The risks of early failure, of cold injury and of needing to be rescued are too high to justify setting out,"
The North Pole of Inaccessibility remains one of the last great challenges in polar exploration. It is defined as the furthest point from land on the Arctic Ocean, and as of now, it has yet to be visited by man. It would appear that that will remain the case, at least until next year. To visit the place on foot requires explorers to cross more than 800 miles of dangerous ice, with little support options to assist, and with the pack ice breaking up, the large areas of open water are incredibly dangerous to deal with.
This is obviously sad news for McNeil and his entire team, but it makes you wonder what it's going to be like for the explorers heading to the geographic North Pole as well. Obviously they'll be dealing with similar conditions as well, and it sounds like it is going to be a very challenging year for anyone heading north. Which begs the question. Is global climate change forcing us to consider a permanent ban on travel to the North Pole? Obviously the ice pack at the very top remains solid, but other areas are not so lucky. Could it be, in a few years time, the only expeditions to the Pole will be from the last degree?