Breaking News from Barneo – UPDATED

Russians working 24/7: New ice runway (4th), airdrop at Ice Camp, AN-74 allowed to land from Russia, and 3rd tractor on the road from Moscow

UPDATED April 12, 2016 15:59 EDT Irina Orlova reported that the Antonov-74 is on it’s way to Barneo Runway. The plane was supposed to depart at 9am, but was delayed for a few hours as the runway was not completely ready. The Russians added a layer of snow on top to seal and strengthened the ice.

The British Trio, Mark Langridge, Paul Vicary and Mark Wood, who planned a full reverse route from the North Pole to Canada, reported that they would be on this plane. Also, Eric Philips who is guiding a Last Two Degree expedition, reported to be on this flight.

April 11 News:

Bad news and good news from Barneo Ice Camp the past three days. Starting with the bad ‘breaking news’, the third attempt to construct a runway was also thwarted by the live ice, when the extended runway started to break. Good news is,

(1) another spot for a runway has been found,

(2) the Ilyushin-76 was able to airdrop vital supplies at the Ice Camp,

(3) the Antonov-74 got permission from the Norwegians to return from Russia to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and

(4) the organizers are “potentially ready to extend the season up to beginning of May if needed,” Victor Boyarsky told Explorersweb/Pythom from Longyearbyen.

[Editor’s note: Previously Exweb was told that Barneo will be closing down at around April 24th/25th.]

News from Victor Boyarsky

“This year is kind of exceptional, even for us having nearly 20 years long experience in doing Barneo,” Victor told Exweb/Pythom over the weekend.

“Our brave people up on the ice are doing a hard job. And as you know, besides all of such objective natural obstacles, we unexpectedly are faced with another problem – some bureaucratic barriers here in Longyearbyen, which caused delays with our flights. So we hope that within next couple days we start to fly up north and being able to do 3 flights a day hoping to catch up with schedule. We are also potentially ready to extend the season up to beginning of May if needed.”

Fortunately the IL-76 made an airdrop with oil for generators, fuel for stoves and food for the people at Barneo.

Recap of the past three days: runway, airplanes

The Russians at Barneo, and in Longyearbyen, Murmansk and Moscow worked around the clock.


End of last week, the first runway, which broke into 3 parts, explained Boyarsky, looked like the only option to use. The one end survived the forces of nature for two weeks and the team started to extend the runway on that side. Unfortunately, nature also won the battle as the ice started to break there as well.

The helicopter pilots were in the air all night, again searching for a suitable ice flow, reported Irina Orlova on FB. Two floes were found. One, 2 km away from the Ice Camp, on the same ice floor and at the same strong current, which caused some concern. The other site, 27 km away. The pilots rested, took off again and examined the areas.

They decided to take the closer site, as the further floe has more than one meter snow on top of the ice and the tractors/bulldozers have to work though high pressure ridges to drive the 27km to that flow. Also, the closer floe has an area where the runway could be extended.

The two bulldozers and their support staff worked through the 2 km of rubble ice and reached the potential runway area by midnight. They worked through the night and reported this morning all is up to speed to complete the runway as fast as possible.


Yesterday Irina Orlova reported from Longyearbyen that the Ilyushin’s airdrop at Barneo went well. 17 platforms with supplies were dropped during two fly-bys. “Now we don’t have to worry about the people and the technology at the Ice Camp anymore.” Food and fuel were running low there, as the planned AN-74 supplies from Longyearbyen could not be delivered, due to the broken runways.

Good news: Over the weekend, the Norwegian authorities granted permission for the AN-74 to return to Longyearbyen with supplies from Murmansk.

Meanwhile, the Moscow team was also working through the night. The third tractor/bulldozer, scheduled for an airdrop by the IL-67, had to be transported from Moscow to Murmansk. They were searching for a trailer to transport it. Eventually one was found and the latest news on the cargo is that it had already travelled 600 of the 2,300 km yesterday.

Hats off to everybody involved in this attempt to open Barneo Ice Camp!

Barneo is a temporary Ice Camp, built by the Russians every North Pole ski season. The camp is built on a suitable ice floe inside 89 degrees North. Primarily the ice floe should be suitable to build a runway of at least 1200m long for an Antonov-74 to land from Longyearbyen, Svalbard. They, therefore, need a floe of at least 2km long and at east 40 meters away from the nearest open water (lead).

This year when the ice floe was found on March 25, an Ilyushin-76 flew from Russia, dropped two tractors by parachute, as well as staff and other equipment to start clearing the runway. The tent camp that is built every year, serves as a base camp for skiers, tourists, runners and scientists.

On March 27, a Boeing-575 from Moscow Vnukovo Airport landed at Longyearbyen (Svalbard) with special cargo for Barneo (gear not intended for airdrops, like scientific equipment) and two team members who for the storehouse, sorting and preparing things for the season.

The town of Longyearbyen is situated on the biggest Island of the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen, inside the Arctic Circle.

The Geographic North Pole is at 90 degrees North.

A degree of latitude is 110 km / 70 miles / 60 nautical miles.

Follow updates in the Daily Dispatch Streams on Explorersweb and (teams with RSS blog feeds).

Check Polar Jargon as explained on


Grounded flight could thwart Barneo runway work; Check fractured ice map – UPDATED

Barneo Ice Camp:

Website RGO = Russian Geographical Society

[follow blog in the live dispatch stream on Explorersweb and Pythom]


Irina Orlova Facebook