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North Pole full distance ski: Game over

Posted: Mar 31, 2012 05:40 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer) Mads Agerup and Rune Midtgaard the only two full distance skiers still out from Canada to the North Pole have decided to abort their speed ski attempt to the Pole.

The frostbite on Mads’ thumb has deteriorated and they concluded that it’s too risky to continue. Not an easy decision says their Oslo home team to ExplorersWeb as they were progressing as planned at this stage with regular 20 kilometers per day. They packed the minimum equipment as their focus was speed.

The home team reported on March 30, Day 12, that they have broken camp and were looking for a suitable landing area for the plane. “The weather is still very good with a clear view and very good definition, no wind and cold. But with the weather supposed to change between Saturday and Sunday [April 1] we hope for an available plane as soon as possible.”

Yasu Ogita reported to ExWeb from Japan that he is in good health and that he has already started to prepare for another attempt next season. He said he has learned a lot and got ideas to improve his gear and menu. Next season he will again go solo with no resupplies.

Mark Wood is busy with preparations in Longyearbyen for his shortened expedition from Barneo.

Other Last Degree North Pole teams (110 km ski) are making their way to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where they will board the Russian An-74 plane to Barneo Ice Camp. The Russian staff in Longyearbyen have already done their preparations for Barneo and are waiting for the ice runway to be finished.

A few days ago the Russian team responsible for the preparation of the runway has flown from Murmansk with an Ilyushin-76 which has dropped the tractors and staff by parachute to prepare the floating runway at approximately 110 km from the North Pole.

They reported -37°C on March 31 with the wind at 13-15 m/s. The men work in three hour shifts and say it is impossible to work in the cold for longer. Fortunately no one has got frostbite. One of the tractors has broken and had to be repaired.

On March 26 a polar bear cup surprised the men at Barneo. Presumably it has come from a den and was very curios. It was bad news for them and they say they have to be cautious.

Links to 2012 Arctic expedition teams:
Canada (Cape Discovery) to North Pole 90°N
Yasunaga Ogita –Japan (solo, unsupported, unsupplied)
Mads Agerup and Rune Midtgaard – Norway (unsupported, unsupplied)

Mark Wood - UK (two degrees)


Greenland teams
Michele Pontrandolfo and Marco Martinuzz - Italy (vertical crossing, kites)

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


Early in March, with the sun still low on the horizon, the sleds of Yasu Ogita packed for his unsupplied attempt from Canada.
Image by Yasunaga Ogita
Focus is now shifting to Longyearbyen on Svalbard, the gateway for the last degree skiers and some scientists. In the image Longyear’s current soft night light.