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Arctic wrap-up: Skiers abandon attempt to NP; Barneo news; 100 years ago Scott ordered for “the means” of ending their troubles

Posted: Mar 12, 2012 02:47 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer) In the 10 days that the first three skiers have been out on the Arctic ice, they have been battered by one blizzard after the other. The Irish team has decided to abandon their attempt because of resupply logistic problems and is returning to their start point, their home team reported to ExWeb. The solo Japanese skier reported damaged equipment. From Russia, Victor Boyarsky sent over some news about Barneo Ice Station; when they plan to open and close.

100 years ago Robert Scott ordered Wilson to hand over “the means” of ending their troubles; they had 30 opium tabloids apiece and Wilson was left with a tube of morphine.

Mike O’Shea and Clare O’Leary

Here goes the team’s press release sent over to ExplorersWeb by Matty McNair from their home team:

The Irish North Pole Team is currently returning to their start point [Cape Discovery] following a difficult decision to abandon this year's attempt. The team is safe and well having spent the past 10 days on the Arctic Ocean; the first two weeks of a North Pole trip is regarded as extremely challenging because of the unrelenting cold and difficult pack ice terrain.

Since landing on the ice, the team's plan to share charter logistics with other teams has fallen apart - leaving them to potentially face a bill of between 120k &180k Euros to fund their resupplies and pickup should they continue.

The team has stated that “it was a very difficult and disappointing decision to have to turn around; we had been moving well through one of the hardest sections in a period of uncharacteristic bad weather, but with our opportunity of shared resupplies removed we were left with no choice but to return to the start point and get a charter out to Resolute Bay. It will take several days for us to return to Cape Discovery and we hope to catch a Charter on the 15/16th March.”

“We never anticipated this turn of events. It's very hard to explain how difficult it is to walk away from an expedition into which we have invested so much time, energy and money - especially when it feels like things are going well for us. We have turned and are heading back to our start point from where we have arranged pick up. This will take some days.”

“Thank you to all our Sponsors, supporters and well wishers; we will post an update when we are off the ice.” END

Yasu Ogita

This weekend Yasu, his home team and Japanese followers were thinking of the devastating tsunami that hit Japan a year ago.

The home team reported that Yasu was halted by the blizzard but hope to start hauling today again. Some of his equipment is damaged. He described the ice as turbulent and intense – a violent war of ice.

Yasu is not using resupplies.


From Russia, Victor Boyarsky sent over the following note to ExplorersWeb about the drifting Ice Station which is set up at approximately 89°N every year, and serves as the pick up support for the skiers arriving at the Geographic North Pole:

“So far so good - we are proceeding with all preparations and seems to be on time planning to have first commercial flight to Barneo on April 2nd and last one from Barneo to Longyearbyen on April 22 (of course with our favorite "weather permitting").

Antarctica 100 years ago

Robert Falcon Scott wrote in his diary:

Sunday, March 11.— Titus Oates is very near the end, one feels. What we or he will do, God only knows.

We discussed the matter after breakfast; he is a brave fine fellow and understands the situation, but he practically asked for advice. Nothing could be said but to urge him to march as long as he could.

One satisfactory result to the discussion; I practically ordered Wilson [the doctor] to hand over the means of ending our troubles to us, so that anyone of us may know how to do so.

Wilson had no choice between doing so and our ransacking the medicine case. We have 30 opium tabloids apiece and he is left with a tube of morphine. So far the tragical side of our story.

The sky completely overcast when we started this morning. We could see nothing, lost the tracks, and doubtless have been swaying a good deal since—3.1 miles for the forenoon—terribly heavy dragging—expected it.

Know that 6 miles is about the limit of our endurance now, if we get no help from wind or surfaces. We have 7 days' food and should be about 55 miles from One Ton Camp to-night, 6 × 7 = 42, leaving us 13 miles short of our distance, even if things get no worse. Meanwhile the season rapidly advances.

Monday, March 12.— We did 6.9 miles yesterday, under our necessary average.

Things are left much the same, Oates not pulling much, and now with hands as well as feet pretty well useless.

We did 4 miles this morning in 4 hours 20 min.—we may hope for 3 this afternoon, 7 × 6 = 42. We shall be 47 miles from the depot. I doubt if we can possibly do it.

The surface remains awful, the cold intense, and our physical condition running down. God help us! Not a breath of favourable wind for more than a week, and apparently liable to head winds at any moment.

The British polar team with Robert Falcon Scott as leader set off from Cape Evans on November 1, 1911 on their quest to discover the South Pole. The polar party who arrived at the already discovered South Pole on January 17, 1912 was Henry R. Bowers, Edward A. Wilson, Lawrence E.G. (Titus) Oates and Edgar Evans (Evans died February 17, 1912 on the way back).

Links to 2012 Arctic expedition teams:
Canada (Cape Discovery) to North Pole 90°N
Yasunaga Ogita –Japan (solo, unsupported, unsupplied)
Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary - Ireland (supplied)

Weather links courtesy of Canadian Ice Service:
The Arctic Weather products link on the Canadian Ice Service IPY Legacy page

Two-day sea ice drifts for the whole Arctic Ocean on the Danish DMI website

ENVISAT ASAR images on the Polarview website

Other weather links:
Canadian Ice Service

Canada Weather Office satellite image

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

University of Illinois cryosphere images

Wayne Davidson’s Extremely High Horizon Refraction

Other links
Polar Adventure Rules and Definitions
Polar Statistics


Mike O’Shea and Clare O’Leary: “We never anticipated this turn of events. It's very hard to explain how difficult it is to walk away from an expedition into which we have invested so much time, energy and money - especially when it feels like things are going well for us.” In the image, Clare during training.
Image by Mike O Shea