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Polar wrap-up: No Polar Pumpkin or cars to North Pole; Catlin teams prepare for evacuation; and Pontrandolfo for Iceland

Posted: Apr 28, 2011 09:04 pm EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) Art Mortvedt canceled his flight to the North Pole with the little orange Cessna. Two sets of amphibious cars, who attempted to cross the Arctic Ocean from Russian to Canada, are halted by technical problems and open water.

The two Catlin teams are preparing to get off the ice as Spring sets in on the Ocean. The ski teams from the North Pole to land, are still heading south.

The 2011 Barneo season ended, report the Russians.

Polar Pumpkin and pilot Art Mortvedt

News posted by the team is that bad weather has forced Art to cancel his flight from Eureka Weather Station to the North Pole for this season.

To fly solo nonstop for 7 hours, try to find a place to land amid the pressure ridges and/or leads at the Pole, refuel at Ice Station Barneo - and fly another 7 hours back to Eureka, with no rest, was a scenario that seemed not only risky, but too risky. Camping at the Pole would put me in position for a return flight to Eureka in poor visibility/contrast and snow, writes Art in his blog.

So if I were now to fly the Polar Pumpkin to the North Pole, under these circumstances, I would be totally alone for logistic support - and if anything went even a little bit wrong, it would likely be very much wrong. I would probably lose the Polar Pumpkin in the crushing ice pack - at least -and maybe lose even more. My life, for example. The Arctic Ocean drifting ice pack is a very dynamic unforgiving environment.

He immediately began to plan the flight for next April.

North Pole Ski teams

Johan Nilson and Harald Kippenes said on their website that when they go to bed they add three hours to their 24 hour day and therefore work on 27 hour days. This is to get more sleep, Johan explains.

They do 10 nautical miles per day and said they had to negotiate many pressure ridges and open leads, which takes time. When crossing the ice formations with skis and sled you have to be careful not to fall or damage the sled/skis since it is sometimes a big drop.

The work continues in the tent: In the evening you then have to tend your equipment, charge the batteries with solar panels, cook dinner, and to make sure that your sleeping bag is placed in a good position with its inflatable mattress. The mattress is used to provide insulation against the cold surface when sleeping. Before going to bed you also have to plan the next step of the expedition and stay in contact with the Base Camp.

They team received their resupply earlier this week with a plane from Canada dropping a barrel with food and fuel. The barrels were dropped out from the back of the plane and all the food and equipment was not damaged. We were happy because the weather conditions were great and the plane was able to find us/our tent via the GPS coordinates.

The Pole to Pole Run team also received a resupply. The plane from Canada landed with the delivery. Matty McNair prepared the teams food. Eric Phillips fell in the water and they had to set up camp to dry his clothes. A positive / southerly drift helped them to move 500 meter per hour towards Canada despite sitting in the tent. They are now halfway through their expedition.

The Catlin Arctic Survey team crossed several leads yesterday and at one point a seal popped up to watch them, their home team reported. One of the leads was 100 meters wide. They also came across more evidence of Arctic fox.

Yesterday they travelled 9.5 nautical miles, their highest mileage to date, although they had poor weather and travelled in a white-out. They reported having the wind at their back along with a favorable drift, which they believe must have been the key because it certainly wasnt the ice conditions, which they could only feel not see, said the home team.

After completing so many miles in horrible weather, they still completed all the scientific measurements and caught some of the action on film.

On April 26 they had good conditions to complete the full set of scientific measurements but more difficult for skiing/trekking. The team crossed cracked ice, large pans, ridges, two small open water leads and one larger lead (75 meters wide). They also had to navigate through ice ridges two storeys high.

Latest news is that the Catlin teams are preparing to get off the ice: As the Arctic spring begins, and warmer temperatures make life on ice more comfortable, it's also a sign that its time to start packing up and preparing to fly both the Explorer and Ice Base teams off the Arctic Ocean, says the home team.

Amphibious cars

Two automobile expeditions planned an attempt to cross the Arctic from Russia to Canada this season, but technical problems and too much open water got in their way.

Vladimir Chukovs are part of the Polar Ring project around the Arctic Circle. See previous story in the links below the images. The cars experienced some technical problems.

The second motorized expedition, the Marine Live Ice Automobile Expedition 2011 (MLAE 2011), is organized under the patronage of Arthur Chilingarov (special representative of President of Russian Federation for international cooperation in the Arctic and the Antarctic.) Vasily Elagina is the leader of the 2011 expedition.

They are still moving, on the Russian side, but are faced by open water. We are presently on Golomyanniy, writes Elagina in the latest update. Water is on three sides of the island. He added they are giving themselves two or three days to make a decision about their movements.

The cars are named Yemelya-3 and Yemelya-4 after the first two vehicles that reached the North Pole in 2009 with seven men crew: Vasily Elagin Afanassi Makovnev, Vladimir Obihod, Sergey Larin, Alexey Shkrabkin, Alexey Ushakov, Nikolai Nikulshin (see previous story for an image of one of the 2009 cars)

News about the MLAE 2011 expedition was send over to ExplorersWeb by Alex Abramov of the 7Summits Club

Michele Pontrandolfo

The solo Italian skier was one of the skiers who had to abort their North Pole ski from Canada to the
Pole before they had started (due to too bad weather at the start, which grounded their flight to Cape Discovery).

Michele is now on his way to Iceland to traverse Vatnajakoull Glacier for the fourth time, he told ExplorersWeb; and solo again. I will start from the glacier Sindijokull, western side of Vatnajakoull, and will finish near the volcano Snaefell (you see the green track on the map; the other tracks are of my previous crossings).

With this new crossing of the Vatnajokull, I can say that I have crossed the glacier by almost all the longer points. For me it's a beautiful goal.

It is the fourth largest glacier in the world (after Antarctica, Greenland and Southern Patagonia Ice Cap) and the first volume is 8100 square km, added Michele.

On a question of how long his crossing will be, Michele said to ExplorersWeb that it will be about 150 km and he plans to be on the ice from a week up to 10 days, during which time the glacier is very heavy with wet snow and temperatures that reach 0 degrees Celsius.

He plans to leave from Reykjavik in a super jeep, to Jokulheimar where he will reach the valley of the western slope of the glacier, he says. I will be dropped off a first few hundred meters from the ice, then I will head to the south, beginning the route that I intend to do. The pick-up afterwards will take place near the volcano Snaefell also with a super jeep, which will take me up to Egjlstadir.

Michele added, I cannot live without the great ice fields for a long time. After what has happened to the North Pole this year, I have to do something. Perhaps I shall do a partial route on Antarctica at the end of the year, but it remains to be seen. In 2013 I will reorganize the great crossing of the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole again.

BSES internship

BSES Expeditions is inviting applications for five unpaid internships for the forthcoming academic year. Starting at the end of August, these are part-time office-based roles for a period of ten to eleven months, culminating in a leader position on expedition in the summer of 2012. Full details can be found at www.bses.org.uk

Deadline: 09.00 Monday 6th June
Interviews: Wednesday 15th June


Johan Ernst Nilson From the North Pole to the South Pole 2011-12, ski, kite, cycle, sail
Johan Ernst Nilson dispatches over Contact5
Pat Farmer From the North Pole to the South Pole 2011-12, air and vehicle support

Catlin Arctic Survey
A team of four skiers will be travelling up to 350 miles (560 km) across the Arctic Sea Ice during March to May.
Their mission is to gather oceanographic and ice data for Dr Boxall and the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.
Their ski plan according to their website:
Phase 1: a short transect across Prince Gustav Adolf Sea towards the Catlin Ice Base in Deer Bay.
Phase 2: a longer trek from near the Geographic North Pole to Greenland.
They will be assisted with resupplies.

Ski/Explorer Team:
Ann Daniels (UK) co-leader third Catlin Arctic Survey.
Tyler Fish (USA) co-leader
Adrian McCallum (Australia) - Scientist
Phil Coates (UK) - cameraman

The temporary Catlin Ice Base will be off the western coast of Ellef Ringnes Island in the territory of Nunavut, Canada. The scientists will undertake on-site experiments during the 2011 Spring season.

Catlin Ice Base team
Catlin Operations team

Polar Pumpkin and Art Mortvedt

Other links:

Barneo Ice Camp
Russian Geographical Society
Canada Weather Office satellite image
Canadian Ice Service

CONTACT 5 expedition technology
CONTACT Augmented route map
HumanEdgeTech expedition technology

Polar rules of Adventure

#Polar #Air

Marine Live Ice Automobile Expedition 2011 amphibious Yemelya vehicles traversing the floating ice of the Arctic Ocean; Kara Sea. Arctic ice are melting.
courtesy MLAE-2011, SOURCE
One of Vladimir Chukovs amphibious vehicles.
courtesy Polar Ring 2011, SOURCE
Johan Nilson and Harald Kippenes work on 27 hour days.
courtesy Johan Nilson (live over Contact5), SOURCE
Michele Pontrandolfo is heading for his fourth crossing of Icelands Vatnajakoull Glacier.
courtesy Michele Pontrandolfo, SOURCE
Michele: I cannot live without the great ice fields for a long time. After what has happened to the North Pole this year, I have to do something."
courtesy Michele Pontrandolfo, SOURCE
Solo again.
courtesy Michele Pontrandolfo, SOURCE