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Saturday, 14 April 2018 19:43

Wheels Up & On Their Way

Updated:

The team reported in again at 2 AM local time. They had a relatively short stopover at the Barneo Basecamp before heading off by helicopter for their starting point at N 89.01.1, E 140. They skied a short distance before making camp at N 89.1.58, E 140. The weather was clear with a blue sky and a breeze of around 6 knots. The temperature was a brisk - 30 F / -34 C. That's cold! But cold temperatures are preferred over warm temperatures, because they tend to come with stable weather. Warm temperatures tend to bring low visibility, wind and generally deteriorating weather.

The cold weather will require that everyone is vigilant about keeping their extremities and core warm, while also not overheating from the hard work of pulling a sled. Temperature and moisture management are two of the hardest parts of the expedition, along with maintaining a high level of energy throughout the day. That may sound easy if you are reading this from the comfort of a warm house, with water flowing from a tap and a variety of food at the ready. At the North Pole it is something that you have to constantly work at to maintain. Simple but difficult. Like so many things when it's -30F/-34C outside!

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We are happy to report that our team has departed on schedule. Woot woot! This may not seem like a big deal, but it is! (This season has been fraught with delays and our team is one of the only teams not to be delayed by 10 days).

As they drove to the airport the team was nearly giddy with excitement. They were chanting BARNEO! BARNEO! The flight to the Barneo Basecamp takes roughly 2.5 hours. Because there are only a handful of windows on the plane most people don't get to see the pack ice before they land.  When the plane's door opens they emerge into a landscape (actually a frozen seascape) that's unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. 

It's likely to be a late night for the team. The word "night" describes the time of day but not how light or dark it is because they have 24 hour sunlight. Upon arrival the team will meet with the basecamp manager, review their communication schedule, get a weather update, learn as much as they can about ice conditions, select the best departure point, load the helicopters with kit and people and take off for what may be an hour flight to their starting point. But as soon as the helicopter drops them off all the noise and hectic moments melt away and everything becomes much more focused and simple. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Ski. North. 

Click here to listen to today's audio dispatch sent by Keith and Abdulla Al Alahbabi just prior to the flight to Barneo. Also click here to check out what landing at Barneo looks like from the pilot's eye - it's pretty awesome!

If we receive a second dispatch we will update the blog, so check back again soon. 

Below: Ready to go!

 

 

Friday, 13 April 2018 21:56

A Day of In-Town Preparations

UPDATED:

The team spent the day in Longyearbyen prepping for their departure and making sure everything is in order. They practiced setting up tents, they organized their food supplies and they readied their sleds and brought everything to the airport. At present, it looks like they will be flying to the ice tomorrow, sometime in the afternoon. That's great news (!!) and everyone is excited.

What's it like the night before departure? Usually your mind is darting wildly, crossing "things to do" off imaginary or real checklists. "Did I remember to pack my second pair of gloves? What about my bowl and spoon?  Extra batteries?" Then there is the unknown to contend with... "How cold will it be? Will we see lots of open water? Will we have drift? And in what direction?" But just as strong, if not stronger, are the many positive feelings of embarking on a grand adventure. The anticipation is almost over, the planning and preparations will be put to use (!!!) - and it is a wonderful way to fall asleep. 

Click here to listen to today's audio dispatch from Keith and check back again tomorrow for another update, hopefully from the ice!

(Below: a team selfie)

Below: Our team at the airport - sleds are delivered and they are ready to go!

Friday, 13 April 2018 02:53

North Pole Last Degree Kicks Off!

The PolarExplorers 2018 North Pole Last Degree Ski team officially kicked off their expedition tonight in Longyearbyen, Norway. The team gathered for a pre-flight briefing followed by welcome reception and dinner at a lively pub in Longyearbyen.

At the pre-flight briefing they learned that their flight to the ice is scheduled for April 14. That means they will spend tomorrow reviewing expedition procedures, making final preparations with their kit and transferring their packed sleds to the airport by early afternoon. If all goes as planned they will fly to the Barneo basecamp the following day (Saturday). From there they will get transferred to their starting point on the ice. 

We are happy to report that everyone is doing well. The level of excitement is high. Our finger's are crossed that there won't be any delays. The team wanted to share this link to a video of the plane dropping the tractor and supplies, by parachute, to build the Barneo runway and basecamp. They should be putting the finishing touches on it tomorrow. 

That's most of the team below (Harvey, Abdulla Alahbabi, Zdenek and Abdullah) in Longyearbyen. Make sure to listen to today's audio dispatch from Keith and check back for another update from the team tomorrow!

 

 

Tuesday, 03 April 2018 18:36

The North Pole - Here We Come!

 

It's our favorite time of year - North Pole season! Our guides have arrived in Longyearbyen and are busy preparing for the arrival of our various North Pole teams. This season we have a team flying to the North Pole and spending a night at the Barneo Basecamp, a team skiing the last half degree and a team skiing the last degree. Everyone has been busy with final preparations for their expeditions and they are looking forward to meeting up soon in Longyearbyen, Norway. 

We are excited to share the progress and daily goings-on of our teams. Check back to this site regularly for updates, images and audio dispatches from the ice. 

The North Pole Last Degree updates will begin on April 12 (meet the team here).

The North Pole Half Degree updates will begin on April 15, and the North Pole Flight updates will begin on April 16

Do you have questions or messages for our teams? Send them to Annie (annie@polarexplorers.com) and she will make sure to pass them along and post any responses. 

Check back again soon!

 

We are thrilled to be sharing the North Pole with a wonderful team of North Pole Last Degree Skiers. These team members will be posting daily audio dispatches from the expedition starting on April 12. Make sure to check back regularly to follow their progress!

The world is full of female explorers, but very few of them guide polar expeditions. To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked PolarExplorers’ guides Nancy Moundalexis and Annie Aggens a few questions about what it’s like to be a female polar explorer.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 15:49

Mission Complete! Time to Head Home

The teams are officially back to civilization and on their way back home! They made the flight from Punta Arenas yesterday morning. Everyone is happy to be back on solid ground after several days of delay at Union Glacier camp. We'd like to congratulate the whole team and give a special thanks to Madison Mountaineering for being our partner for this Vinson Climb. Listen below to Annie's last audio update from Antarctica! And as always, thanks for following along! Stay tuned for another exciting Last Degree expedition this April, but this time to the other end of the world, the Geographic North Pole!

JAN 23 VINSON CLIMB TEAM FINAL UPDATE: Featuring Annie Aggens

Monday, 22 January 2018 17:04

Battered by Wind at Union Glacier

For the last two days, our team has been hunkered down at Union Glacier, awaiting a break in the wind. On Saturday the team was able to make the short transfer by Twin Otter from the base of Vinson Massif, back to the much more luxurious Union Glacier Camp. They took advantage of the hot showers and celebrated Jeff's birthday with champagne toasts. Due to the stiff wind (about 35knots in camp) they've opted to remain indoors rather than explore the area surrounding Union Glacier. The camp meteorologist has forecasted a break in the wind tomorrow (Jan 23) which will hopefully allow the Ilyushin to fly in and get the team back to Punta Arenas tomorrow night. Stay tuned for details.

JAN 20 VINSON CLIMB UPDATE: FEATURING KEITH HEGER

JAN 21 VINSON CLIMB UPDATE: FEATURING ANNIE AGGENS

Jeff Glasbrenner with "birthday cake" in hand.

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Phone 1.847.256.4409
Toll-Free USA/CAN. 800.732.7328