North Pole: Another plane grounded; Skiers finish treks UPDATED

Russian kids stranded at Ice Camp

(Correne Coetzer)

[Updated April 27, 2016, 10:25 EDT to reflect position of Russian kids]

The 2016 North Pole season is nearing its end. As last year, no one skied a full distance (land to Pole, or reverse). Longest distance skied is two degree of latitude (220 km), only by one team. The rest covered shorter distances.

Grounded Russian plane and kids

This season was dominated by the Norwegian authorities who grounded several Antonov-74 flights to and from Longyearbyen, reportedly because a Svalbard reporter “found a threat to national security in our conventional activities,” reported the Barneo team three days ago. “On these grounds the Norwegian authorities made the transportation rules much more rigorous: apart from normal permission request 48 hours before the flight (what we’ve been always performing punctually), they now require detailed list of passengers and cargo to be submitted 48 hours before.”

No end yet. Yesterday Explorersweb/Pythom was informed that another flight has been grounded, a plane from Moscow to Svalbard to pick up, among others, the Russian teenage team, guided by Matvey Shparo. Three hours before the plane was scheduled to take off from Moscow, the Norwegians revoked the previously granted permission to land in Longyearbyen, Galya Morrell told us. “At this very moment we are writing a letter and calling to Kjerstin Askholt, the sysselmann of Svalbard trying to help to reach a compromise.”

On a question about the details of the flight, Galya told us today, “The problem was with the flight in general: both ways – from Moscow to LYB (the big plane of Gazpromavia – they normally fly with TU-154M) and then by AN-74 to Barneo and back. It all has to do with Chechen big time show on the Pole. After that – reasonably – the Norwegians increased the scrutiny of the flights and passengers so the lists of passengers have now to be submitted 48 hours ahead. Irina Orlova has submitted the list for extra 14 people to leave Barneo on Friday, but no one looked at it over the weekend – naturally. All those people already have been checked (otherwise they would have never ended at Barneo in the first place.)”

Matvey and his 9th yearly young team reached the April 24th, at 23:55 Moscow Time. Just in time, as the weather forecast for the region is reportedly unfavorable, with a cyclone on its way. As far as we know, the Russian kids are still grounded at Barneo.

[Updated April 27, 2016, 10:25 EDT to reflect position of Russian kids. Gayla Morrell reported to Explorersweb/Pythom, a compromise has been reached, “the new permission has been finally granted and the team of 7 kids guided by Matvey Shparo was picked up on the Pole and brought back to Barneo – LYB – and finally to Moscow. I just spent about 2 hours with the children talking through the details of their journey – it’s a really amazing stuff!”]

Ski teams on the ice this season

The UK Trio, Paul Vicary, Mark Langridge and Mark Wood, who planned to do a no-resupply reverse full route, from the North Pole to Ward Hunt Island, Canada completed their 220 km to the Pole in 13 days; instead of 775 km in their planned 35 days. Their original plan was thwarted by the runway that broke several times and delayed their start too late in the season.

Other guides were Matvey Shparo, Bengt Rotmo, Eric Philips, Eric Larsen, Audun Tholfsen, Dixie Dansercoer, Ola Skinnarmo, José Naranja, Inge Solheim, Keith Heger and Sun Bin.

This season, many kids had the privilege to be at the North Pole. Apart from the Shparo teenager team, other Russian kids flew in under guidance of Anastasia Kuznetsova, a guide for Aleksander Abramov’s 7Summits Club.

Eric Philips was guiding 14 year old Australian, Jade Hameister, the last 150 km to the Pole. Also in the team were her father, Paul, and Norwegian polar explorer and cameraman, Petter Nyquist. Eric plans to guide Jade, her dad and two other people on a new route to the South Pole at the end of the year.

Latest Barneo Ice Camp data, April 25

Coordinates: N 89º01 E 027º07

Weather: morning clear, windless, – 20ºC, in the afternoon overcast, -12ºC snow.

Barneo is a drifting ice base in the Arctic, which is annually established under the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society expedition center “Polyus” Russian Association of Polar Explorers.

The tent camp that is built every year, serves as a base camp for skiers, tourists, runners and scientists. Every March/April, 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).

The town of Longyearbyen is situated on the biggest Island of the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen, inside the Arctic Circle, and under Norwegian rule. Svalbard had a total of 2,654 residents on January 1, 2016.

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 of skiers, Barneo and more on Explorersweb and (teams with RSS blog feeds).

Check Polar Jargon as explained on

Barneo Ice Camp:

Website RGO = Russian Geographical Society

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The Arctic (Russian) with the Support of the Russian Geographical Society

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Previous/Related on Explorersweb/

No more Russian flights from Svalbard to Barneo in future

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