Arctic Roundup: Spring Season Begins

The Barneo ice station will reopen this year for the first time since 2018, and several other expeditions are underway elsewhere in the Arctic. Here, is the latest news from the far north. Note that unlike many past years, there are no major journeys.

North Pole

In March, we brought news that the Barneo ice station will reopen. This time, it will route adventure tourists onto the Arctic Ocean via Russia, rather than Norway.

In early April, a group of Last Degree skiers is scheduled to depart from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Athletes preparing for a marathon at the ice station will follow shortly after. They leave Krasnoyarsk for Khatanga on April 8. Around April 15, another batch of Last Degree skiers may or may not arrive via a second plane.

Not all outfitters are taking a risk on this new version of Barneo. Veteran polar guide Eric Philips chose not to play Russian Roulette. “As a western guiding company, there are too many uncertainties for my liking,” he said.

Northwest Passage

Kathinka Gyllenhammar of Ousland Explorers is leading a large group of seven skiers on a 400km route between Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven. This route takes in a historically rich segment of the Northwest Passage. Gjoa Haven, named after Roald Amundsen’s vessel, the Gjoa, is located on King William Island, where Sir John Franklin’s two ships met their demise in 1846.

A notable advantage of this route lies in its economic viability as an Arctic destination, as it eliminates the need for charter flights. Small planes service both communities every week.

The guided team left Cambridge Bay a couple of days ago, and experienced temperatures of -34˚ on their second night on the ice.

Stocking up on food in Cambridge Bay is costly. Photo: Ousland Explorers


In a month, Danish adventurer Jan Rasmussen is leading a five-person group on a 600km crossing of the Greenland ice sheet from Kangerlussuaq to Isortoq, the standard route across the inland ice. The team includes Dr. Adrian McCallum, who will take glaciological measurements along the journey.

Point 660, the starting place for many Greenland crossings. Photo: Ash Routen

Iceland and Svalbard

Next week, an all-female team will ski a 180-200km route in Svalbard, traveling east to west from Agderbukta to Isfjord. The group includes Gina Johansen, who aims to break the women’s South Pole Speed Record this year, and Karen Kylesso, aiming to be the youngest person to ski unsupported and solo to the South Pole.

Gina Johansen training in Norway earlier this winter. Photo: Gina Johansen


Another Antarctic hopeful, Akshay Nanavati, is heading to Iceland this week to continue training for a solo coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica later this year. Nanavati has spent the past few months training in Alaska and will head into the Highlands on Tuesday for a 400km training route from Vatnsfell Mountain.

Elsewhere in Iceland, Americans Kyle Sprenger and Chris Burkard will ski 150km across the notoriously tempestuous Vatnajokull icecap next month. Once off the ice, they will then packraft 50km.

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is a writer for ExplorersWeb. He has been writing about Arctic travel, mountaineering, science, camping, hiking, and outdoor gear for 7 years. As well as ExplorersWeb, he has written for Gear JunkieRed Bull, Outside, The Guardian, and many other outlets. Based in Leicester, UK, Routen is an avid backpacker and arctic traveler who writes about the outdoors around a full-time job as an academic.