A Night at the North Pole with PolarExplorers
In April 2016 PolarExplorers will forge into it's 23rd season of offering North Pole Flights to intrepid travelers from around the world. With the North Pole at the epi-center of international policy and scientific studies spending a night at the North Pole has never been more exciting. We caught up with PolarExplorers guide Eric Lillstrom to ask him 9 questions about overnighting at 90 degrees North.
What is it like to spend a night at the North Pole?
It’s incredible. You will never experience a more dynamic, almost other-worldly place. It takes a while to sink in that the ground you are walking on, sleeping on and flying over is constantly moving beneath you. Once it does you realize that there is nothing else like it. It's also quite phenomenal to be at the very spot where all the lines of longitude converge, where every direction is south. It's fun to walk around the world in a few steps.
What sort of temperatures can you expect?
You can expect temperatures anywhere from -10 C (15 F) to -35 C (-30F). With wind and humidity these can feel much colder. You definitely want to be sure that you can cover every inch of your skin if you have to. But every so often, when it's sunny and calm, it can feel downright balmy.
What is there to do?
Whether you are at the actual North Pole or at the Barneo Ice Camp it's always fun to go for a walk or a ski trek with a guide to explore the landscape. It's a good way to witness the shifting ice and maybe see an open water lead. The guide will always be on the lookout for polar bear and changing ice conditions. Since the sun is always up there is no distinction between night and day. Some people have no trouble sleeping while others will want to stay up to experience the midnight sun. If the right mix of people stay up you may end up with a dance party, a poetry slam, or an all-night card game. This often involves Russian vodka and a lot of laughter. On occasion it has involved some late night skinny dipping in a very cold ice hole. Brrr...
What’s the craziest thing that someone has done at the North Pole?
Oh my goodness! A lot of crazy things have taken place. People sky dive, scuba dive, get married, meditate, have prayer circles, do live broadcasts, film commercials or documentaries, play pick-up soccer or hockey, fly kites, fly drones... the list goes on and on. The craziest thing I experienced at the North Pole was being a part of a wedding ceremony where the officiant (PE guide Rick Sweitzer) was wearing a Santa suit and a skydiver floated to the ground during the ceremony then landed a short distance away right as the couple kissed.
What’s the Barneo Ice Camp like?
It’s a very international place. People come from all walks of life and they bond over the incredibly unique experience that everyone is sharing. You get to meet people that you would have never otherwise come in contact with. It’s not luxurious by any means but it has all the amenities of a remote camp to keep you comfortable. The human ingenuity that goes into making this camp possible is remarkable.
What's one item people should bring that they may not think of?
Hmmm..... Warm clothing is a given and PolarExplorers provides everyone with a comprehensive clothing and equipment list and all the support you need to find each item. Another given are banners and signs which are great to photograph at the Pole. I always tell people not to forget a few phone numbers for friends, family or coworkers. There's nothing more satisfying and exciting that calling someone via satellite phone and saying, "I am the North Pole!"
Who else might you see up there?
Expeditioners, scientists, dignitaries, artists, photographers, mechanics, pilots, cooks, professional athletes, and people just like you and me who want to experience the North Pole.
What is your favorite thing to do at the Pole?
Aside from walking around and exploring the proximity of the Pole (it’s never the same place twice!) I really like to make a cheese fondue to share with participants. I also enjoy getting to know all the different people and hearing everyone’s story. It’s always fascinating to hear why people ended up coming to the North Pole.
Eric came to Polar Explorers with an extensive, well-rounded background in a wide variety of outdoor skills. His real strengths lie in his teamwork and problem-solving abilities. His empathetic nature and fun personality are put to good use helping our polar teams reach their goals. Eric is an avid skier and mountaineer. His advice is, “Take every opportunity offered to enjoy nature. Experiencing the outdoors is what keeps us grounded and allows us to appreciate our day-to-day lives.” His favorite expedition? North Pole Last Degree Ski.