Debrief from Linda Beilharz and Rob Rigato: 2010 North Pole expedition

Posted: Jul 13, 2010 04:55 pm EDT

I have never in my life had to be so focused on achieving a goal and pushing for days, weeks really, to achieve it, says Linda Beilharz in a snippet of their NP story. Australian couple, Linda and her husband Rob Rigato skied from Canada to the North Pole during the past Arctic ski season with Northwinds guide Sarah McNair-Landry.

Linda sent over the following to ExplorersWeb:

A snippet of the story of North Pole Expedition (March & April, 2010)
By Linda Beilharz and Rob Rigato


Our arrival at the pole followed a super huge effort to cover miles so that we could reach that magical spot on the earth's surface before running out of time for the helicopter pick up. The huge effort meant that in the final four days of our trip we had only 5 hours sleep.

I have never in my life had to be so focused on achieving a goal and pushing for days, weeks really, to achieve it.

That push to the end dominated our experience of the second half of the journey when it became apparent that we needed to step up the pace or risk not getting there.

We still managed to appreciate how the icescape was changing as we travelled further and further away from the coast. The ice pans were larger, there were more low or old ridges that were easier to cross and more leads that needed to be swum or rafted or took time for us to walk along till we came to a point where we could cross.

The sun had been below the horizon at the start of our journey, coming up as a glowing yellow ball for 20 minutes on day 3 and increasing height and time till it was in the sky for the full 24 hours, after a month had passed.

The sun reduced the amount of frost in the tent, made us warmer, made it easier to see and kept us more cheerful.

Theres lots we could say but the following snippets are some things we find people usually want to know about:

The trip took 56 days, starting on the 28th Feb and finishing on the 26th of April. As the crow flies it was 780 km.

As the ice drifted in front of wind or ocean currents our position moved. We mostly drifted east and south. Depressing!

We didn't see Polar Bears but we did see seals. Just one at a time, poking their heads up through a lead and looking at us to find out what we were up to. They quickly bobbed down into the water again and disappeared.

It was -38°C when we started, we averaged about -30°C and the warmest we had was about -17°C. We had to worry about getting too hot when it got to -20°C as we didn't want to get sweaty (sweat freezes in the clothing -not nice)

The sleds weighed about 80 kg. We had two resupplies of food and fuel which were parachuted in. Each of those was about 100 kg.

Its not hard to sleep in sunlit nights -we were so tired we could have slept through a rock concert.

The ocean can be silent but sometimes you can hear the ice moving. It chugs, sounding a bit like a steam engine. Sometimes scraping ice makes a high pitched screeching noise too. Our travel was accompanied by the sounds of our skis and sleds moving over the snow and ice which could be quite noisy.

We phoned Matty McNair (Sarahs polar guide mum) daily to provide a position update and to organize the resupplies. We phoned the Australian Base Communication team daily also with an update for our website.

We didn't suffer from frostbite or any other 'Arctic' conditions apart from a small amount of cold injury Linda had on her fingers. No digits missing or scarred noses. We lost about 10 kg weight each, even though the food was good.

We are still talking to each other and were still friends with Sarah - we had a great experience of working together well as a team.

There is more info on the website and there will be even more once we've tackled the job of getting more of the story up there. END

Linda Beilharz big goal is a journey on the four Icecaps of the World. She has skied to the South Pole, crossed Greenland, and attempted the Southern Patagonia Icecap with her expedition teammate and husband, Rob Rigato with whom she also skied to the North Pole.

Linda was born on 15 April 1960 and is a resident of Bendigo, Australia. She works as an Executive Officer at Womens Health Loddon Mallee. Linda and her expedition teammate, Rob Rigato are married for the past 29 years. They have two children a daughter Jeni (26) and a son Michael (28). Linda loves reading and to be in the bush. Her favourite book is Martin Edmonds "The Supply Party. As for music she likes folk and world music.

Rob Rigato was born on 25 March 1951. He works as an Outdoor Program Director at Trinity Grammar School (Melbourne) and resides in Bendigo. Robs favourite books are the biography of Wallace Stegner, Tim Wintons Breath and Cormac

Sarah McNair-Landry was born on May 9, 1986 and lives in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada. She works as an adventure/polar guide and in the film industry. Her hobbies are dog sledding, kite surfing and kite skiing.

Sarah and her brother Eric undertook several polar expeditions with their father and mother, the polar guides Paul Landry and Matty McNair on Antarctica and in the Arctic. In the 2004-05 Antarctic season they became the youngest to ski to the South Pole and did it unassisted, unsupported; and they kited back to the coast. In the 2008-09 Antarctic season Sarah guided an ALE team from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and kited back to Patriot Hills. In the Spring of 2010 she guided a team to the North Pole.

During the Spring of 2009 sister and brother, Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry and their friend Curtis Jones, all from Canada, attempted a kiting expedition across the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. They started their adventure on 16 May, but Curtis had to leave the expedition 10 days later due to family reasons. Sarah and Eric carried on. The team used three-wheeled buggies powered by their kites or pulled by themselves in no winds. The expedition ended on 17 June.

Previously, in 2007, Sarah, Eric and Curtis kited together along a vertical route on Greenland and pulled sleds.

Currently the Sarah, Eric, Ulysse Bergeron and Elsa Fortin-Pomerleau are on their way in Mongolia for a canoe expedition from Lake Khovsgol to Lake Baikal in Russia.


#Polar







Rob, Linda and Sarah at the North Pole. That push to the end dominated our experience of the second half of the journey (click to enlarge)
courtesy Linda Beilharz, SOURCE
The ocean can be silent but sometimes you can hear the ice moving. It chugs, sounding a bit like a steam engine. (click to enlarge)
courtesy Linda Beilharz, SOURCE
As the ice drifted in front of wind or ocean currents our position moved. We mostly drifted east and south. Depressing! (click to enlarge)
courtesy Linda Beilharz, SOURCE
Linda and Rob with the Aussie flag at the North Pole (click to enlarge)
Image by Sarah McNair-Landry