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.
Having had a great day on the ice, Team Polaris tented down to a still evening as temperatures cooled and began cooking a savory dinner for all. Around 8:00 PM Annie heard the noise of a bear just outside the tent door and poking her head out, saw a bear not 15’ away. With the cry of “bear!”, co-guide Eric Lillstrom jumped to attention and between the two of them they managed to scare their visitor off with shots from the flare gun. Eric then managed to ensure that the bear was ambling away from the camp. They had already set up a trip line with noisemakers around their camp and had stored their food down wind.
Following this visit, however, they decided to ski to the camp of Team Cool Running guided by CP and Taylor Sweitzer to alert them of the bear. This was deemed particularly important as they had seen specks of blood in the bear’s paw prints and feared that this was the same bear that had been fired upon and potentially wounded in the foot or leg by a ski team just 5 days earlier near the North Pole. The guides decided to unite the two teams in one camp for safety purposes at which time CP and Taylor’s entire team uprooted their camp late at night to reposition their camp alongside Annie and Eric. An awake and alert night watch was set up by the guides throughout the balance of what was left of their sleeping time. Night is a misnomer as it is full 24 hour sunlight at their position.
However, the same visitor decided to come back for a second visit around 3:30 AM which was identical to the timing of Keith and Andrew’s visit. Once again, they were able to scare it away with pyrotechnic flares. A short night resulted in a short day but still allowed Team Polaris together with Team Cool Running to ski over the halfway mark of the last degree and now they are enjoying another great meal in the larger camp together. Their position is N 89 ° 30.045, E 108° 54. They hit the trail at 2:30 PM and skied till 7:30 PM.
Since the early morning encounters, they saw no sign of bears throughout the day. We hope that they will get a most restful sleep tonight!
Polar bears are a vital natural resource and as such are both threatened and protected where’er they roam. Global warming and climate change is so dramatically changing polar bear habitat including the diminishing sea ice over the North Pole that all polar expedition guides are trained to protect themselves and their teams by using noise, pyrotechnics and force of weapon only in the most dramatic of circumstances. After all, we’re the visitors…
Listen (or read the transcripts) of today's audio updates:
Hi, this is Dean for the PolarExplorers blog. It’s day 3 I guess we’re on, day 3 or day 4. Things are going well. I think we've gone through the stormy stage and everyone's getting on with each other which is great. We’ve just accumulated a few other teammates today because we had an incident last night with some polar bears, or a polar bear who took a fancy to our food in the camp. Nothing major. The polar bear sort of scuttled away after a few shotgun cartridges to scare it off. Left us for a restless night’s sleep so we began wandering around the snowy ice cap trying to find Team 2. So we ended up camping together in one location about 2:00-3:00 this morning.
We’ve had a good day today, though. Temperatures a bit lower than yesterday. We did 5 good pushes in spite of the fact that we had a late start. It’s been overall a good experience so far. So we’re halfway there, crossed the halfway barrier about 6:00 this evening. So we’re all camped up now, about 4 or 5 tents in one area with a perimeter security around it just in case the polar bears decide to come back. And that’s it for now. Thank you very much. See you soon.
Hi, I'm Qobin, Boiy and Shahrom. Now we are half-way to 90°! Yeah, Chris and Taylor are OK. Today they cook our dinner- but they lied! (laughing) Now we are with the other group together with Annie and Eric. So everything is OK. We are ready to go to 90° as soon as possible. So we hope that in 3 days if the weather is good we can reach the Pole, top of the world, on my birthday 20 of April!! Yeah!!! Ok, see you soon, keep in touch. Bye!