Welcome to the 2015 North Pole Half Degree Dogsled Expedition blog! We are delighted to have you following the team. This expedition blog officially kicks off on April 12. Check back again then for our first post!
The Half Degree Dogsled Expedition Team had been on stand-by in Barneo, awaiting the arriving flight from Longyearbyen. They awoke to beautiful weather this morning and left Barneo around 1:00 PM today. They arrived Longyearbyen around 3:00 PM and the team showered, gathered their belongings, said their final farewells and flew out to London. Congratulations to all team members and guides on a job exceedingly well done!!
The Half Degree Dogsled Team is still at Barneo, waiting for weather to clear for their flight back to Longyearbyen. It has given them time to reflect on their experiences as you can hear from Mark Roberts below.
The team left an audio update from Barneo. They are enjoying dinner and celebrating their accomplishments with champagne (albeit a bit slushy!). Looking forward to sleeping in beds!
Current position: N 89°38.7 W 76°15.9
The team is awaiting their helicopter pick up which has been delayed due to the blizzard. They are comfortable in their tents with plenty of food and fuel, camped on a beautiful pan of ice. They report winds about 35 knots (40 mph) and temperatures around -18°C (-0.4°F). All are in good spirits except the cranky one who left the Bahamian translation of the audio update below...
Current position: N 89°44.674, W 75°40.651
The team traveled 7 hours and made 7 miles. They are approximately 10 miles from Barneo. They had some great sections of travel mixed with one huge rubble field and some fresh leads. Can't make things too easy! It's been a great learning opportunity for the team with quite a variety of conditions. They look forward to being picked up at some point tomorrow for their helicopter flight to Barneo, then flight back to Longyearbyen. Beds and showers- what a concept! Congratulations to Team Bahama!
Current position: N 89°52.183, W 99°36.139
The team traveled about 4 nautical miles today in very challenging conditions- strong winds 25-30 knots (29-34 mph), poor visibility (50', 15 m), areas of moving ice and pressure ridges that brought out the great athleticism of the team members and the dogs. Their spirits remain high as you will hear in the audio updates.
Current position: 90° North!!!
The team reached the North Pole today!! They had excellent traveling conditions with northerly drift and nice flat open pans of ice. They did encounter some leads opening up around them which presented some challenges but they were able to navigate through them and reach their goal- the North Pole! Temperatures were relatively balmy -2° to -5° C (23-28° F). Their plan is to party tonight (well deserved!) then potentially start skiing/dogsledding back to Barneo which is currently 20 miles (32 km) south. They are currently scheduled for a return flight from Barneo to Longyearbyen on 19 April so they have a few days to decide what challenges they choose to take on next.
CONGRATULATIONS TO AN AWESOME TEAM!!! We knew from the first audio update from Mark that this was a very special team! Bahamians at the North Pole! Yahoo!!
Current position N 89°51.232, E 049°37.999
The team had a great first day on the ice, making 5+ nautical miles. They had the wind at their backs, quite strong at times. They went through a few rubble zones which gave them the opportunity to do some team building. But for the most part, they found lots of old pans of ice which allowed for some beautiful skiing and mushing and saw no open, active leads. Shaune demonstrated amazing dog mushing abilities with Julian also mushing at times. They have awesome dogs- fast, athletic and highly capable. All are in great spirits as they munch on rum cake and look forward to tomorrow's adventures.
After a four hour delay, the team's flight left Longyearbeyn and has landed at the Barneo Ice Camp. Despite the delay, everyone is in good spirits. During the flight they were treated to a sighting of 4 polar bears. What a special way to begin an expedition!
The air feels warm, it is a bit overcast, and there is some wind out of the southeast. The team is gathering for dinner and is very excited to begin heading north tomorrow.
Today the team took advantage of the day off by doing a snowmobile trip exploring the wilderness around Spitsbergen. They had a great time driving their sleds over frozen rivers and broad valleys. They even had a polar bear sighting! Make sure to listen to listen to Mark's audio update and check back again tomorrow for another update from the team.
Today the team returned from their overnight training in Longyearbyen. They fine tuned their skiing and dogsledding skills, practiced setting up camp, melting water and staying warm (but not too warm!)
The weather was very pleasant with partly cloudy skies and a very slight wind.
Everyone did a great job and all are eager to get started on the expedition in a few days.
Make sure to listen to Julian's audio post and check back again soon for another update!
The half degree dogsled team arrived in Longyearbyen this afternoon. It soon became clear that this is a team full of laughter and great energy. They had a great dinner at the Spitsbergen Hotel (Funken) with lots of food, drinks, tall tales and laughs. Mark Roberts plans to don a polar bear suit to go greet PolarExplorer's Director Annie Aggens when she arrives at the airport at midnight... That should tell you something about the spirits of this group! His audio update also sets the tone of the team.
Tomorrow mid-day they will head to a valley outside of town for some training. The morning will be spent picking up last minute items in town.