The teams reported another great day of travel with bright blue skies, nice open pans of ice, some areas of rubble but very manageable, minimal wind, and cold temps (-25°). Team Yellow led by Keith & Andrew is at N 89° 44, E 102°. Super Combined Team (Cool Running and Polaris) is at N 89° 41.6, E 111°. They did not run across any significant leads- a few cracks in the ice where they could look down at the water but they were only 4-6" wide.
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.
The 10 K ski team reached the North Pole after traveling 16 km (fickle Polar ice being what it is...). They arrived late Saturday evening and spent the night at the North Pole. They encountered various conditions throughout the day but were ecstatic to reach the Pole. They were picked up by helicopter Sunday and flew back to Barneo, then on to Longyearbyen.
The 3 ski last degree ski teams (Team Cool Running led by CP and Taylor, Team Polaris led by Annie and Eric, and Team Yellow led by Keith and Andrew) all made good progress, all camping at N 89° 23, E 108, 107 and 105.67 respectively. Conditions were good today with some pressure ridges, rubble fields, mix of sun and overcast, minimal wind, -18° C temps but no open water.
All of the last degree teams made great progress today, especially considering their late night arrival in camp and their first full day on the ice. They reported good ice conditions with some small leads, a few pressure ridges but also some nice big pans of ice where they were able to make some distance. And a very happy birthday to Lucy Carton! Your brother and dad are thinking of you.
The 10 km ski team of Stuart and Alan Clark, Karen (Clark) Ashton, David McGrain (Chimu) and Jim Chaffin called in this morning. They flew from Barneo to around 10 km from the Pole late Fri/early Saturday, skied for a bit then made camp and went to bed around 4 AM.
The last degree ski teams called in updates tonight. All teams arrived at Barneo base camp eager to go. They worked out their kit, fuel, etc. and then got a helicopter ride to their respective starting points for their official start. Listen (or read) the updates from Keith Heger, Dexter Salna (team Cool Running) and Annie Aggens (team Polaris) below.
A day of comings and goings... the North Pole flight team return to Longyearbyen from Barneo today and reflect on the experience of standing at the top of the world. The ski teams have taken off from Longyearbyen, heading to Barneo.
Boarding the Antonov in Longyearbyen, next stop Barneo.
The North Pole flight team flew this morning from Longyearbyen to Barneo, then on to the North Pole! They had a great celebration and spent quite a long time at the Pole, taking photos, drinking champagne and Aurora Borealis and soaking in the stark beauty of being at the top of the world. They returned to Barneo for the overnight and were treated to special performances by a rock band of locals from Longyearbyen.
The ski teams spent the day packing up all their gear and sleds, taking them to the airport for the weigh in to get them loaded on the Antonov to head to Barneo on the morning flight tomorrow. The teams will fly on the afternoon flight around 5 PM.
Driving the sleds to the airport, the teams saw this seal on an ice floe
After months of preparation, training, accumulating gear and clothing, anticipation, apprehension, excitement- the 2017 PolarExplorers North Pole Expeditions have officially begun! The team members all met in Longyearbyen, Norway. We have a busy season with 3 different last degree ski teams, one 10 km ski team and 2 North Pole flight with overnight at Barneo teams.
We are so excited! The North Pole season is just around the corner and we are ready.
We have five North Pole expeditions in April. These include one North Pole Flight, one 10k Ski Expedition and three Last Degree Ski Expeditions. We welcome you to follow along as we share their adventures on this blog. The blog will officially kick off on April 12 so mark your calendars and check back again soon!
Want to meet the intrepid adventurers who will be joining us? Here they are...
Our North Pole expeditions will kick off on April 12. We invite you to meet the adventurers who make up our 2017 North Pole teams!
Graeme Shankland is 56, married with two grown up children, lives in London and has worked in finance all his working life. He currently has his own private equity business, Caird Capital, investing in UK companies in a broad range of sectors. He has a passion for the Antarctic and is a keen supporter and admirer of Ernest Shackleton. Graeme was kind enough to share some insights from his experience as a first-time polar explorer, skiing the last degree to the South Pole with PolarExplorers.