North Pole area turned into Rubble and Lead Field – Barneo update UPDATED

Helicopters searched for 5 hours; Airplane grounded in Longyearbyen; Polar jargon explained

(Correne Coetzer, Edited April 8, 10:41 am EDT updated to reflect reuse of first runway)

Yesterday we reported about the anticyclone and the negative impact the powerful currents have on the runway construction at Barneo Ice Camp; causing the ice to move, open up, and push ice blocks against each other.

The two 2 Barneo MI-8 helicopters went out, searching for a suitable ice floe to build a third runway. They were in the air for more than 5 hours, reported the Russians at Barneo.

“They followed 67th meridian and changed Eastern Hemisphere for Western but could not find normal ice. There are open-water channels [leads], rivers and broken ice. The helicopters returned to the base.”

Barneo still plans to airdrop fuel, technical oil and food with the Ilyushin-76 from Murmansk. “The second airdrop with the tractor will be later, when the helicopter pilots find the floe. By April 8 the platforms for airdropping assembled in Moscow must be in the Murmansk. They will be loaded and, if the weather on Barneo allows, will be dropped there.”

Weather April 7

The anticyclone has gone. The wind blows from the east, 8-10 m/sec, snow and storm, zero visibility. Temperature: – 24°C.

More obstacles

Yesterday the plan was to fly the Antonov-74 in Longyearbyen, Norwegian territory, to Murmansk in Russia, to collect more equipment for the Ice Camp. But, the AN-74 were not permitted to fly.

Barneo explains, ”Starting from this year Norwegian authorities have toughened the rules of receiving the permit for departures from the country and arrivals. So we were gathering the documents when the working day ended (4p.m. local).”

Update April 8, 10:41 am EDT

Irina Orlova reported, because of the destruction in the ice and the large number of leads, there is no suitable ice cover for a new runway. The only option is to use the first runway and extend it to the other side of the cracks, which has been spared in the movement of the ice.

Regarding the Antonov-74, it has not yet been given permission by the Norwegians to leave Longyearbyen for Russia.

Polar Jargon as explained on

Dangers Arctic Ocean: Rubble

Rubble is an area of collapsed ice. A Large area of rubble can last for several days, a scenario of collapsed building sites one after the other. These sections are best avoided by climbing ice pinnacles and scouting for flat areas on the horizon. It is a common beginners mistake to keep a straight line and go into rubble headfirst. Travel alongside the area until you find flatter ice.

Sometimes, however, rubble trouble cannot be avoided and you’ll have to get ready to rumble. Patience is the name of the game and not to despair. Although rubble can seem endless and is no fun for camp; it will end. It’s just one of those obstacles testing out how badly you want the pole.

Open water leads, Avoiding leads, Ice Ridges,

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.

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The New Barneo Runway Has Cracked

Barneo Ice Camp:

Website RGO = Russian Geographical Society


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