The New Barneo Runway Has Cracked

Helicopter out to search for new ice floe, Ilyushin from Russia on hold

(Correne Coetzer) While the Russian staff at Barneo uses every minute to prepare a new runway, and the support staff at the warehouse in Moscow works as hard to get new equipment ready for an airdrop, the ice near the North Pole is alive and working against the humans. An anticyclone is in the area and powerful currents have a negative impact on the ice.

“Again not good news,” reported Barneo today, “a 10 cm crack appeared on the new, not yet finished, runway (although 400 meters of it is ready, 400 meters of very thick solid snow and exacting work). There is no water coming out but… we probably need to change the very region of disposition. It is not clear yet if the crack is worth watering or not. Now our helicopter pilots take off again to search for another location.”

The staff at the warehouse in Moscow is working hard to get new equipment and most probably another tractor to Murmansk for an airdrop by the Ilyushin -76. This flight is now postponed.


Barneo reported that all the people in camp are in good health and they have enough food to carry on working. The second, now cracked, runway was close to the campsite and the camp would have stayed in place. But the possibility of a getting a suitable ice floe further away would mean that camp has to move. Barneo has 2 powerful MI-8 helicopters on site, but this would mean more work, other than constructing a runway.

Temperatures have gone down to minus 40 degrees.

Powerful sea current

Polar veteran and one of Barneo’s organizers, Victor Serov, released information (via Irina Orlova) about the condition of the ice sheet and hydro-meteorological forecasts at Barneo’s location inside 89 degrees North. Have a look at the images on the left to go with Victor’s explanation.

A powerful current moves the ice and has an impact on the ice all around Barneo. First image: April 6 to 7. “The forecast for tomorrow (second picture) is expected to accelerate drift, it actually turns into a whirlpool and thickens around the Pole,” explained Victor. The third image shows everything to calm down by April 10.

Skiers waiting in Longyearbyen

A large group of skiers is waiting on Svalbard, mostly Last Degree and Last Two Degree skiers.

The three Brits, Langridge, Vicary and Wood, who plan a reverse full route from the Pole to Canada, are worried about the time they are losing. Their cut off time for pick up by Kenn Borek at the Canadian coast is May 5. [Ed note: Kenn Borek has agreed to pick them up at the coast and also in case of emergency when they are out of range for the Russians, the team told Explorersweb. It is not known if they had to pay money upfront for in case they need an emergency pick-up; the requirement that Borek had before.]

Yesterday Mark Langridge told Explorersweb/Pythom they are collecting their sleds from the storage to go camping and sledge-hauling for a few days outside town.


North Pole 2016: Ice runway cracked, skiers grounded – UPDATED

Barneo Ice Camp:

Website RGO = Russian Geographical Society


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