I posted a story about Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters prepping to make an attempt on the speed record for skiing to the North Pole. But they aren't the only explorers heading north this spring. When the season gets underway at the start of March, there will be a number of other aspiring adventurers looking to make that grueling journey as well. But according to this report from ExWeb, a number of teams will be facing a condensed season this year, thanks to a narrow window of escape via the Barneo Ice Camp. Others, such as Eric and Ryan, will charter an expensive flight from Kenn Borek Air.
ExWeb is indicating that Norwegians, Kristoffer Glestad and Lars Mangerud Flesland will share a flight out to Cape Discovery with Larsen and Waters. These two young men hope to go even faster to the North Pole, covering the distance in 40 days. If they do make it, they'll also be the youngest to complete the full route to the top of the world, at the age of 24 and 25 respectively. They'll get started on March 7.
Also on his way to the North Pole will be Japanese skier Yasu Ogita, who is going solo and unsupported to 90ºN. He has also contracted with Kenn Borek and won't need to exit from the Barneo Camp. Similarly, Michele Pontrandolfo will attempt the same feat. He'll be in Resolute Bay next Monday, then set out for Cape Discovery on March 5, with an eye on reaching the North Pole by April 21. That would mean he'll complete the expedition in just 45 days.
Also returning this season to give the North Pole another go is the Irish team of Clare O’Leary and Mike O’Shea, who made an attempt last year as well. They were force to abandon that attempt however, so they feel like they have a bit of unfinished business in the Arctic. They'll set off in the first week of March too.
When the Barneo Ice Camp opens on April 2, it'll give adventure travelers a chance to ski to the North Pole as well. For those who aren't aware, Barneo is a temporary camp that is built in the Arctic each year that gives assess to the top of the world. The camp is usually built at about 89ºN, which is within a helicopter flight to the Pole. This year, the camp will remain open until the 22, which is plenty of time for the tourists, but may be a tight squeeze for the explorers who hope to exit that way.
It looks like it will be a very active season in the Arctic, but as in the past few years, looks can be deceiving. The past two years, strong storms have kept many of the North Pole skiers stranded in Resolute Bay, waiting for a chance to fly out to the Cape. As the weather continued to be dicey, they watched their very few days begin to disappear before they even hit the trail. Some did eventually make it out, only to find conditions too difficult to endure. I suspect we'll see some of that again this year, as the Arctic continues to become more demanding, forcing some teams to pull the plug. At this point, I'll actually be very pleasantly surprised if anyone actually completes the full route this year. It is becoming that difficult to accomplish.