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Arctic Wrap-up: Devil ice

Posted: Mar 28, 2006 03:00 pm EST

(ThePoles.com) The Finns are cursing their pagan devils as they fight for each step over packed-ice and in whiteout conditions. Karl and Dimitri find themselves in the middle of the Bering Straight trying desperately to make their way west towards Russia - against the drift. Meanwhile, Conrad and Richard have wasted hours figuring out how to deal with open water leads. Distances are longer than maps indicate in the Arctic's treacherous terrain.

There is also news on Biathlon star Ole Einar Bjoerndalen going for a partial trip to the NP; and on Ario reaching the Arctic Village.

In the news

Biathlon Olympic star for the North Pole

Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Biathlon Olympic champion, is heading for the North Pole this spring, according to European media reports. He downplayed its daring, however, noting that he and other expedition members will be flown into the area and flown out after reaching the Pole, reported the Norwegian paper Aftenposten.

At the Salt Lake City 2002 games, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won gold in all four Biathlon events. Before that, he won gold in Nagano in the sprinting competition. That's 5 Olympic victories so far. Ole also won his 62nd World Cup event and the overall World Cup trophy last weekend.

NP and crossing teams from Canada

Airborne Rangers: Fighting pagan devils

The spring weather we experienced yesterday was premature, reported the Finns. Today, we had a rude awakening in the form of another severe dose of Arctic winter: morning temperature 34 C, cloudy skies and a raw wind.

To make things worse, the packed ice in front of us became depressingly difficult to negotiate. As a result of these desperate conditions, a dark cloud of hopelessness settled over the joint consciousness of the Expedition," reported the team.

"Due to whiteout, it became impossible for the lead skier to see in front of him. Often on such occasions, from beyond the snowdrift, we would then hear the names of various Finnish Pagan Gods and Devils being shouted to the icy heavens

But as afternoon came the Finns reported better terrain, calmer winds and few rays of sun. They were even able to make good headway. "However, the days skiing came to an unexpected end when we were halted by a newly opened lead with open water. The only solution was to pitch camp for the night, and hope the lead would freeze over by morning.

North Pole Classic: Open leads

"On Saturday we encountered numerous open water leads where we used a variety of techniques to cross, such as walking around, shovelling snow to bridge the gaps and also hopping from ice chunks to ice chunks," reported Conrad Dickinson.

"The last 4 days have been unusually mild at -20ºC but yesterday turned to -34ºC."

NP teams from Russia

Top of the world: Making and breaking camp

The team is progressing at a regular pace, despite some open leads. On March 26 (the teams dispatch has been published today) their position was N84.3528, E90.3636.

Bering Strait Crossing

Karl and Dimitri: No way to keep a straight route

Karl and Dimitri have now crossed over the International Dateline and are in Russian territory - albeit the middle of the Bering Straits, reports Karls home team. They are approximately 28.5 miles from the nearest point in Russia, however there is little chance of them reaching the coast in anything like that distance. K&D; are in fact all over the place, zig-zagging around obstacles and water or changing course to a better route.

Alaska trips

Alone across Alaska: Welcome to the Sanctuary

After over 3 months of skiing and snowshoeing across the Alaskan wilderness, Ario made it to Arctic Village on March 24 - just one day before his birthday. He is now resting before setting off for the final but most spectacular part of his journey: 300km from Arctic Village to Kaktovik the finish line of his trip, located on Alaskas coastal plains, at the shore of the Arctic Ocean.

Ario began his journey on December 12, 2005 from southeast Alaska about 9000 km away from where he is now. The Arctic Village, located near the 68th degree in the Brooks Mountains, belongs to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

Borge Ouslands website

Mike Horns website

North Pole Classic 2006 website

Michele Pontrandolfos website (Italian)

Airborne Ranger Club of Finland NP expedition (English / Finnish)

Polar Quest expeditions website

Arios Alone Across Alaska (Italian / English)

One World NP summer crossing website

Top of the Worlds expedition website

Landrys website

Canadian Arctic Holidays

Bettina Aller & JG Leynaud website (Danish / English)

Northwest Passage Polar Expeditions (dog-sledding NP teams)

Karl Bushbys Goliath expedition

Cecilie Skogs blog on Dagbladet (Norwegian)

Member of the North Pole Classic team hauling the sled on rough terrain. Live image over Contact 3.0 courtesy of North Pole Classic/Conrad Dickinson (click to enlarge).
"The days skiing came to an unexpected end when we were halted by a newly opened lead with open water," reported the Finnish team. "The only solution was to pitch camp for the night, and hope the lead would freeze over by morning." Image courtesy of Airborne Rangers Club of Finland expedition (click to enlarge).
Top of the World expedition's leader Paul Landry checking a freshly frozen lead. Image sent live over Contact 3.0 courtesy of Top of the World / Adventure Ecology (click to enlarge).
Karl and Dimitri find themselves in the middle of the Bering Straight trying desperately to make their way west towards Russia - against the drift. Image of team's progress on a Google Earth map, courtesy of Goliath expedition (click to enlarge).