We just received these great pictures from the Last Degree Ski Expedition, taken yesterday during their celebration. Included is another wonderful aerial shot from Keith's kite. Enjoy!
It was a marathon day for the dogsledders who managed to get to within 2 miles of the North Pole before hitting what could have been a deal-breaker lead. They searched and searched for a way across and finally found one. They reached the North Pole around 5 PM local time (Norwegian time).
The teams continued to make good progress today and both ski teams are within striking distance of the North Pole, despite some close encounters with the Arctic Ocean. They had sunny, clear skies with very light wind.
All three teams reported great conditions and weather today, with temperatures around -25 C and a light wind. The ice offered a welcome change for the dogsledders who have been struggling through lots of open water and rubble.
It's amazing the difference a few miles can make. Two of our teams reported great conditions with big flat pans of ice, while another team encountered a lot of open water that hindered northward progress. This is common in the pack ice near the North Pole, where one hour you can have wonderful ice and the next be in a maze of pressure ridges and open water leads. It keeps things exciting and no two days, or hours, are ever alike. The weather today was around -20 C with a light wind.
All teams reported good progress today as their systems become more refined. The learning curve can be steep in terms of camp set-up and breakdown, maximizing travel efficiency, maintaining good body temperature, etc. Typically, each day on the trail gets more efficient.
We've heard from each of the teams today and their dispatches are posted below.
The Last Degree Ski Expedition team is at 89°11.431 N, 165°55.777 E. They traveled 10 miles north today- an excellent start for first tull day of travel. The reported winds around 15 mph and temperature around -30° C...
Today our ski and dogsled expeditions met at 8:30 AM and transferred to the airport only to have the flight called off due to low visibility at Barneo. Our experienced team of expeditions took the delay in stride, knowing that delays are often part of the expedition experience. Everyone enjoyed a relaxing day in Longyearbyen and they await the next chance to fly tomorrow at 10 am. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather allows for the flight!
It was a busy day in Longyearbyen with our two ski teams and one dogsled team doing final preparations for their expeditions. They finalized their kits, organized their meals, packed the pulks and dogsleds and sent everything off to the airport for pre-loading of the plane.
Today was a wonderful day all around. We have a team sleeping at the North Pole after skiing a short distance (special congratulations to 5 year old Gwendal Hauser for skiing almost 3 kilometers!). They report beautiful weather with sunny skies, -25 C temperatures and no wind. When they called in they were just wrapping up a fondue dinner with both cheese and chocolate fondue.
Today we welcome back our Polar Shakedown team who spent the last three days "on the land" preparing for their expedition. They had a great time practicing their daily routines and getting ready for their departure on April 11. They had temperatures ranging from -15 C to -20 C and enough wind to make them appreciate their face masks. Everyone did a great job. Right now we are all enjoying a hearty well-deserved meal. The favorite dish is the reindeer burger. They will sleep well tonight!
Our first team, the North Pole Flight Expedition has reached the North Pole and they report it was a beautiful day. After departing Longyearbyen this morning on board a charter flight they reached the Barneo Basecamp, a temporary camp with runway located approximately 70 kilometers from the North Pole. From there they took advantage of the good weather and flew a helicopter the remaining distance to the North Pole.