Last night around 3:30 AM Keith (Team Yellow) awoke to noises outside, only to find a 3-5 year old polar bear sniffing around. With his firearm at the ready and guide Andrew with flare gun, they managed to scare the bear off to a lumbering retreat. Though the team slept the balance of the night on pins and needles, they awoke this morning to great conditions, bright blue sky, temperature around -25° C, nice older pans of ice and no open water. They made good time, resting now at N 89° 33.404, E 103° 46.119 having established polar bear watches through the night by guides Keith Heger and Andrew Leary.
Picture of the bear seen by Eric Lillstrom of Team Polaris- read about their experiences below.
The 10 K ski team reached the North Pole after traveling 16 km (fickle Polar ice being what it is...). They arrived late Saturday evening and spent the night at the North Pole. They encountered various conditions throughout the day but were ecstatic to reach the Pole. They were picked up by helicopter Sunday and flew back to Barneo, then on to Longyearbyen.
The 3 ski last degree ski teams (Team Cool Running led by CP and Taylor, Team Polaris led by Annie and Eric, and Team Yellow led by Keith and Andrew) all made good progress, all camping at N 89° 23, E 108, 107 and 105.67 respectively. Conditions were good today with some pressure ridges, rubble fields, mix of sun and overcast, minimal wind, -18° C temps but no open water.
All of the last degree teams made great progress today, especially considering their late night arrival in camp and their first full day on the ice. They reported good ice conditions with some small leads, a few pressure ridges but also some nice big pans of ice where they were able to make some distance. And a very happy birthday to Lucy Carton! Your brother and dad are thinking of you.
The 10 km ski team of Stuart and Alan Clark, Karen (Clark) Ashton, David McGrain (Chimu) and Jim Chaffin called in this morning. They flew from Barneo to around 10 km from the Pole late Fri/early Saturday, skied for a bit then made camp and went to bed around 4 AM.
Here is the audio update from Karen:
The last degree ski teams called in updates tonight. All teams arrived at Barneo base camp eager to go. They worked out their kit, fuel, etc. and then got a helicopter ride to their respective starting points for their official start. Listen (or read) the updates from Keith Heger, Dexter Salna (team Cool Running) and Annie Aggens (team Polaris) below.
A day of comings and goings... the North Pole flight team return to Longyearbyen from Barneo today and reflect on the experience of standing at the top of the world. The ski teams have taken off from Longyearbyen, heading to Barneo.
Boarding the Antonov in Longyearbyen, next stop Barneo.