Arctic Roundup: North Pole Failure, Northwest Passage Success, Antarctic Training

Apart from another failed attempt to open the Barneo ice station for the first time since 2018, various small arctic expeditions have unfolded. Here’s the latest update from the far north.

North Pole canceled

For the sixth year in a row, the Barneo ice camp season has been canceled, this time due to an untimely break-up of the ice. The last-minute abort blew a hole in the plans of a number of marathon runners as well as veteran guide Eric Larsen. Larsen was leading five clients on a North Pole last-degree trip. French adventurer Matthieu Tordeur had planned a solo 200km journey to the Pole from Barneo. Wanting to get some use out of the station, three Russians parachuted from the stratosphere and landed close to Barneo.

Northwest Passage


a team of polar skiers with arms raised

The Ousland Explorers team in Gjoa Haven. Photo: Ousland Explorers


Kathinka Gyllenhammar of Ousland Explorers has successfully led seven clients on a 400km route between Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven in the Canadian High Arctic. Encounters with muskoxen enlivened some days, and they also spotted polar bear and fox tracks. On day 11, they enjoyed the solar eclipse, which was partial in that part of the country.

The lowest temperature was -34°C and their longest daily distance was 28km. They arrived in Gjoa Haven after 21 days.



3 sledders in a snowy arctic scene

The Greenland Project team training. Photo: Niklas Marc Heinecke



Danish adventurer Jan Rasmussen is set to lead five people on a 600km journey across the Greenland ice sheet from Kangerlussuaq to Isortoq. This route traverses the inland ice from west to east. Dr. Adrian McCallum will conduct glaciological measurements along the way. Their departure is scheduled for May 2.

Ousland Explorers will also guide four clients on the Kangerlussuaq-Isortoq route starting May 4. Finally, this summer a team of 64 cyclists from around the world will bike “coast to coast” across Greenland via a 550km route — presumably also Kangerlussuaq-Isortoq. Dubbed the Tour de Ice, the venture would be the first time anyone has cycled across the inland ice.

Svalbard and Iceland

Line of polar skiers beside white mountain

The ‘Polarjentene’ ski through spectacular Svalbard. Photo: Gina Johansen


An all-female Scandinavian team (the Polarjentene or Polar Girls) completed a nine-day, 150km sled journey in Svalbard. Starting in Agardhbukta and finishing at Isfjord Radio at Kapp Linné, the team comprised Gina Johansen, Jannicke Øien, Annik Falck, Ragnhild Ongstad, and Hedvig Hjertaker. Maria Philippa Rossi and Karen Malena Kyllesø joined midway.

They encountered temperatures below -35°C at first, later warming to -20°C. Despite poor visibility and high winds at times, they enjoyed mostly sunny, cold conditions. They had no run-ins with polar bears. Johansen aims to break the women’s South Pole Speed record later this year, while Kylesso wants to be the youngest person to ski unsupported and solo to the South Pole.

Nanavati hauled a double sled setup of around 130kg.

Nanavati hauled a double-sled setup of around 130kg. Photo: Akshay Nanavati


American Akshay Nanavati completed a 20-day solo sled journey of 200-250km in Iceland to prepare for his upcoming solo coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica. Starting at the base of Vatnsfell mountain, he skied to the Jokulheimer hut near the Vatnajökull Glacier’s west side. Then he did the return leg, focusing on navigation and camp routines. Despite generally clear weather, the American encountered strong headwinds of 70-80kph on some days.

Also In Iceland, Americans Kyle Sprenger and Chris Burkard are set to begin a 150km ski journey across the challenging Vatnajokull icecap starting on May 4.

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.