Tuesday, April 22, 2014

North Pole 2014: One Team Left To Challenge The Arctic

Yesterday we received the news that Japanese solo-skier Yasu Ogita has pulled the plug on his expedition to the North Pole. Bad weather and rough ice led to slow progress this season, and with food and fuel running out, it was evident that he would not be able to make it to the North Pole in time. He is still waiting for a plane to come retrieve him from the ice, but his departure means that only one team remains to challenge the Arctic this season, and they are doing their best to complete a full journey to 90ºN. That's a journey that no one has been able to complete in four-years.

Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen continue to press ahead with their expedition to the North Pole, despite the fact that they have faced many of the same difficulties that Yasu did. They are now in their 38th day out on the ice, a week behind their Japanese counterpart. With 55 days of food and fuel with them, the clocking is starting to tick on their progress as well.

As of now, they still have 235 miles (377 km) to go before they reach their goal. That means they need to average approximately 13 miles (20 km) per day, for the rest of the journey, in order to make it before they run out of supplies. That is a tall order, but their speed has increased in recent days, and should only continue to do so as they get closer to the top of the world. They are now past 86.5ºN, and picking up steam. If the weather cooperates, they still have a chance of completing an expedition that has only gotten more difficult overt he past few years. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

Elsewhere, the Expedition Hope team of Bernice Notenboom, Eric Philips and Martin Hartley are heading in the opposite direction. They set off from the North Pole and are traveling to Cape Discovery, the starting point for Eric and Ryan. A bad storm has plagued the team for the past few days, making travel difficult, and reminding them of how challenging the Arctic can be. Things have improved now, and temperatures have warmed up to a balmy -18ºC/0ºF. That's quite warm for the region of the world they are traveling through, which has made things easier, at least for today. The squad is nearing in on 87ºN at the moment, and should pass their second degree over the next few days. That's a good milestone for the expedition so far.

Over in Greenland, Dixie Dansercoer and Eric McNair-Landary are now 13 days into their attempt to circumnavigate the entire country using kite-skis. Temperatures there are not so hospitable it seems, as they are currently facing -30ºC/-22ºF conditions. They've faced their fair share of storms already in the past few weeks, and have been tent-bound because of it. But when they can ski, they've been able to cover some decent mileage. Yesterday they knocked off 250.6 km (155.7 miles), a distance the North Pole skiers can only dream of. But considering this is a 5000 km (3100 mile) journey, that could last as much as 80 days, those distances seem trivial at times. With a bit of luck, hopefully conditions will improve, and they can continue to see good travel days.

Finally, on the Russian side of the ice, the Barneo Ice Camp is getting ready to shut down for another season. The temporary base, built in the Arctic each year, has served its purpose well, allowing a number of researchers, explorers, and well-heeled travelers to visit the North Pole. But the season didn't end without a little drama. A youth group had to be rescued from the ice when they began to run low on food and fuel. No one was in any imminent danger, but discretion seemed the better part of valor, and a helicopter was sent to retrieve them. It is best to not fool around when traveling in those conditions.

That's all for now. We'll have more updates as things progress.

1 comment:

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