The team was picked up at their hotel in Reykjavik at 5 AM today to drive to the glacier. They traveled for about 6 hours to Jokulheimar where they ran into a river that they weren't able to cross due to high water levels. They found a protected spot to camp about 1.5-2 km from the edge of the glacier. They were glad to find a protected area as the forecast is for gale force winds tonight. (Click on today's blog title to see the full dispatch including audio update)
The expedition begins! The team met in Reykjavik and spent the day reviewing their kit, practicing making camp, discussing their daily itinerary and getting to know one another. When they phoned in, they were getting ready to head out for dinner and their official welcome festivities. They are excited to be heading out early in the morning for Jokulheimar on the western edge of Vatnajökull.
Stay tuned for updates from the trail.
Our guide team of Annie and Eric are off to Iceland to prepare for our crossing of the Vatnajökull Icecap.
The team will be on the trail for nine days, giving regular updates along the way. Follow along for stories and pictures from the land of fire and ice!
Our guides are busy cleaning, sorting and organizing gear for next year. And there is a LOT of gear! Not to mention catching up on sleep as especially the last few days of their expedition were anything but restful!
The highlight of the day was participating in the March for Science in Longyearbyen. They joined with the Norwegian Polar Institute, UNIS (the University Centre of Svalbard), local residents of Longyearbyen and others to march down the main street of Longyearbyen and through the pedestrian mall to a gathering where they listened to presentations on the importance of science in our lives and policy. It was dramatic to take part in this event in an area that has been so dramatically altered by climate change. The landscape and polar pack ice are changing significantly and it is important for science to tell us why. Our teams experienced significant changes this year. One example was having to use ice screws to set up their camps each night whereas in the past they were able to use ice stakes and skis. There was not enough snow pack this year which is an indication that they were on much younger ice. There is less and less multi-year ice so it is more susceptible to disappear each summer. Tom Skilling, THE weather guru in Chicago, has called the Arctic our "canary in the coal mine".
Welcome back to Terra Firma!!! Wish we had been able to be there at the Longyearbyen airport as official welcoming committee for our most amazing North Pole team members and guides! We (representing all of us around the globe following your epic exploits) are so extremely proud of each and every one of you!!! Hoping you felt all the positive Polar energy that has been coming at you for the last week, getting stronger in the last few as you faced your biggest challenges. Absolutely amazing that you flew from Longyearbyen late on 14 April, encountered polar bear in your camps, found a way around that massive lead, kept spirits up for everyone all through the day and night as you persevered to find a way North, reached your goal and arrived back in Longyearbyen around 1:00 AM on 21 April local time.
All have beds and showers awaiting them. Some may be imbibing a bit after their showers... Definitely they deserve a huge celebration!!!
WAY TO GO!! WHAT AN INSPIRATION TO ALL!!!
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO SUPER COMBINED TEAM (aka Team Cool Running/Team Polaris/Maniacs/Car Ramrod) made up of Qobin, Shahrom, Boiy, Dexter, Jim, Dean, Pia, Tamas, Mike & Joel led by super guides Annie, Eric, CP and Taylor!!! They reached the Pole at 5:15 PM Norwegian time after an epic journey. What an awesome birthday present to Qobin turning 35 today and to Mike's daughter Lauren turning 5 today!! They displayed amazing determination and drive to not be thwarted by the massive open water, putting one ski in front of the other all night and all day till they reached their goal. They are obviously exhausted but elated!
The helicopters will be picking all the teams up in about 1.5 hours and shuttling them back to Barneo. They will then board the Antonov straight away and head back to Longyearbyen, anticipating arriving around midnight tonight.
Major kudos to all team members!!
Listen to the audio updates below (transcriptions to be added shortly)
Hi, it's Niall from Team Yellow reporting in from the North Pole. Whee!! So it's been 2 days since our last update and yesterday we did 16 nautical miles in pretty poor visibility and conditions. We came across an open water lead at 58 minutes North so only two miles from the Pole. A massive sense of deja vu from the last time when I did it with my other son James where we hit an open water lead at the same spot and never got across it. We camped at midnight after walking for 12 hours and got up at 5:00 and started skiing by 7:00. After a bit of walking down the open water lead, we found a way across it and made the North Pole at 1:00 this afternoon so great news! The team, all 6 of us have done extremely well, and hats off to Keith and Andrew, our guides, who put in the extra effort to make sure we got here. So all good, a very good story and delighted that we made it to the North Pole and extra special to have made it with my son Patrick. Thanks so much. Bye.
This is Eric calling in from the Super Combined Ultra Special Team, and I'm happy to report that about 15 minutes ago 5:15 Norwegian time, we arrived at the North Pole. It was a tough day going. Yesterday we ran into a big open lead of water 2 miles away from the North Pole, and there was no visible way around it. We had already been skiing for upwards of 15 hours with only a few hours’ sleep, and so we decided to camp for just a couple hours to get some rest, eat some food and then our last push of the day was another 6 hours of skiing and it paid off! We managed to find a way around the lead and now we're standing at the North Pole and we couldn't be happier!! So thank you guys for following along. I know that we're all looking forward to seeing you guys in person when we get home and until then, thanks for following.