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North Pole to Svalbard ski & kayak: Timo Palo & Audun Tholfsen arrived at land

Posted: Jun 17, 2012 06:09 am EDT

(Correne Coetzer) Estonian Timo Palo and Norwegian Audun Tholfsen arrived at Svalbard after starting at 90°N and skiing and kayaking across the Arctic Ocean. “Yesterday noon Timo and Audun landed at Trollodden, Phippsøya, Norway. Now resting after 54 days, 1039 km :)” wrote Katre Palo from their home team to ExplorersWeb. Earlier, waiting for news, she reported to ExWeb, “there was quite strong wind from the West and probably their movement wasn't very progressive.”

The guys started their ski and kayak expedition from the Geographic North Pole to Svalbard on April 23 after the Barneo MI-8 helicopter dropped them near the Pole. They first had to ski north to 90 degrees before they could start skiing south. Timo and Audun had no resupplies, kites or dogs.

Polar bear attack

The home team reported on June 11 about a scary situation. “Timo and Audun met one polar bear who didn't act like usually. Probably he was very-very hungry.”

“At first this bear moved around them, watching and sniffing. He slowly approached, appeared and disappeared from different places again and again. Hiding himself behind floating ice and swam in the water.”

“Timo and Audun were on a block of ice and tried to keep an eye on him. On one moment they didn't saw the polar bear any more. And after waiting for some time they thought that the king of Arctic turned to his own way.”

“But bear was back. Suddenly he attacked them jumping out of the water on the ice block where Timo-Audun were standing. Distance between them was only 3 meters. It was huge luck that they were able to react so quickly. Revolver shot scared the bear away. It was pretty shocking situation; they felt how it is to be a prey and how unexpectedly polar bear may act.”

“On the same day they saw another polar bear but this individual was timid. Next day, in the morning they found very large bear footsteps around the tent also.”

They added, “Air temperature is 0ºC and snow is very wet: feet are wet and boots are waterlogged. Weather is cloudy and humid in most days. Terrain... In the ice field there are some large ice blocks (10-15km) and many little ones, many leads of open water (not too wide). They are skiing and kayaking by turns.”

June 12 report from the home team: “They kayaked through the area of low ice concentration: quite open water with little ice sheets. It was completely different world. They saw many seabirds flying above them, some whales spraying the water, a walrus lying on the ice. One polar bear, but he/she wasn't interested in Timo and Audun.”

Their expedition is not over yet as they will be heading towards the biggest town on the Svalbard archipelago, Longyearbyen on the island Spitsbergen.

Previous NP expeditions

No team has skied this season from land to the Geographic North Pole, although three teams and one solo attempted from the Canadian side. In 2011 two teams were successful skiing from 90°N to land (Canada). Both had a resupply.

See AdventureStats for all complete full distance Geographic North Pole ski.

Audun Tholfsen and Timo Palo will not receive any resupplies in the 1000 km stretch until they set foot on Svalbard. A year ago they have left a depot on Nordaustlandet (an island in the Svalbard archipelago, which belongs to Norway). There they will stock up on food and fuel and continue another 400 km to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen.

Biographies courtesy of the expedition website:

Audun Tholfsen (born 1972) is a Norwegian, who is born in Lillehammer 1972. Since the time of teenager he has immersed himself in the outdoors. He worked as a white water river guide and photographer for several years. After that Audun moved further north to Spitsbergen, where worked as snowmobile guide and dog musher. Previously he has done several ski trips in Svalbard and Norway.

Together with Timo, they crossed Greenland icecap on skies. Audun spent ten months as crewmember on French sailing vessel Tara. She froze into the Arctic pack ice close to New Siberian Islands and drifted across the entire Arctic Ocean. Currently, Audun works in Longyearbyen to provide logistic solutions and field support in Arctic regions.

Timo Palo (born 1979) is an Estonian, born in Võru 1979. He is from the scenic southern-east part of Estonia. Skiing became his passion in early days already. After years of practicing biathlon and tasting of adventure sport, he is now fully concentrated to the polar regions. Working and studying in polar meteorology as a PhD student in University of Tartu, he has been participated on several scientific cruises and field work campaigns in the Arctic and lately also in Antarctica.

Timo has previously done several ski trips in Svalbard, Norway and Khibiny mountains. In 2008 he and Audun crossed the Greenland ice cap. Before that Timo had crossed Estonia and Hardangervidda mountain plateau in Norway. He also worked as a crewmember on board of schooner Tara during her transpolar drift. Seasonally Timo has been working in Spitsbergen on the logistic and field support in the same company as Audun do. Some years for now Timo has had a passion in outdoor photography, focusing on the polar world.


North Pole to Svalbard ski and kayak: sea ice satellite image

North Pole by ski and canoe/kayak: Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen recall

Ice Camp Barneo season ends

Skog and Gjeldnes turned around

This Arctic expedition (and other expeditions with RSS feeds) can be followed in the Dispatches stream at the Pythom app and at ExplorersWeb

ExplorersWeb Expedition List
#Polar #Oceans #Stats #topstory

“There was quite strong wind from the West and probably their movement wasn't very progressive,” reported Katre Palo from the home team to ExplorersWeb while waiting for the last day’s news from Timo and Audun. Close up: position on June 15.
Positions en route showing their battle against the Arctic ice drift.
“The image of Aqua satellite (12th June). They are somewhere there (red circle). For landing they choose Cape Platen or seven islands (depot2). It depends on wind and ice drift direction in the following days,” reported the home team.
Timo Palo
Audun Tholfsen