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2014 North Pole start: the waiting game is on

Posted: Mar 05, 2014 08:56 am EST


(By Correne Coetzer) The North Pole ski teams are at the mercy of the weather, as usual. Solo skier Yasu Ogita and the Irish team, Clare O’Leary and Mike O’Shea, are scheduled on a Kenn Borek Air flight to Cape Discovery today. While the US team, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters, and the Norwegians, Kristoffer Glestad and Lars Flesland, are scheduled for the 7th. But the weather rules.


Trudy Wohlleben from Canadian Ice Service updated ExplorersWeb on the weather situation, “Due to coming snow/blizzard conditions in Resolute and lingering stratus cloud along northern Ellesmere, it looks as though flying to Cape Discovery or Ward Hunt Island is not feasible Wednesday (March 5) or much of Thursday.  Later Thursday or Friday look to be the best for flying at this time (clearing in Resolute and along the north Ellesmere coast).  Saturday looks bad again, new storm for northern Ellesmere.”


Geographic North Pole (90ºN) teams


Yasu Ogita has prepared food and fuel for 50 days, which he will pull in two sleds. His last food preparation was frying a heap of bacon. All is packed and he is ready to go.


Michele Pontrandolfo unfortunately had cancelled his attempt, because last week he learned that he has to make a cash deposit to the logistics provider in case a rescue is needed, and not only present a bank guarantee. This caught him off guard and negotiations with Kenn Borek to accept the bank guarantee failed. Michele had also made attempts in 2010 and 2011.


Upon arrival in the high Canadian Arctic veteran 8000m mountaineer, who also traversed Antarctica, Ryan Waters said to his mate Eric Larsen, "If we were heading to a mountain right now I would feel 100% confident," Ryan mentioned after taking off from Iqaluit. "But despite all my other experiences [multiple 8,000 meter peaks, the longest unsupported crossing of Antarctica] the North Pole trip is an unknown for me but having all of our gear here is a big boost.”


Among the preparations Eric and Ryan have been doing in Resolute Bay are a custom camera case made, half their dry suits seam sealed (again), the rest of Ryan's lunch butter cut into squares, additional grips (lower on the pole) added to their MSR poles, velocro sewn on Ryan's bivy bags, install new custom MSR snowshoe bindings with special cold tolerant straps, reattached tent fly to inner tent, test custom ‘chimney’, cut 'mouth hole' in neoprene face mask, bolt runner plastic to the back of the sled, to name a few.


Eric explained about the costs, "Just getting to the starting point on Ellesmere Island is a complicated, and very expensive affair. You see a flight to Cape Discovery or Ward Hunt Island (the traditional 'jumping off points for North Pole expeditions) costs $42,000. That's right you read correctly. Getting picked up at the Pole by the same remote logistics operator, costs over $100,000. It's an expensive endeavor to say the least and one that creates a substantial amount of stress. To make matters worse, the full bill must be paid prior to departure. In the past, it's been a slightly different arrangement and there has only been a requirement to pay a partial sum at the start.”


Kristoffer Glestad and Lars Flesland have been training and preparing in Iqaluit and will probably arrive in Resolute Bay today.


Clare O'Leary and Mike O’Shea has been packing and repacking in Resolute, they told Explorersweb. "It's a nice up here at the minute, about -30 to -40ºÇ, but windy, so its cold outside," said Mike.



1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole


RAF Expedition with Matt Stowers and Kev O’Brien have started their trek from Resolute on March 3. A blizzard is approaching their route, reported Canadian Ice Service.


About Day 2 Matt writes, "We awoke after a fitful sleep to a glorious day, and set off for another short 'get you in day'. The plan was to ski for 4hrs, we skied for 5.5hrs only stoping when the wind began blowing hard.”



Canada to Greenland (Kugaaruk and Qaanaaq)


Vincent Cochin has set off on March 3 and reported "almost a full white-out” on Day 2.



Geographic North Pole is at 90ºN

1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole: 

78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11’54.00”W 

Resolute Bay: 74° 41.808N, 094° 49.402W


Follow the teams' blogs (with RSS feeds) in the live News Feed on Explorersweb.





The cost of Arctic travel: Jerry Kobalenko talks to ExWeb


Rescue money thwarted North Pole 2014 ski - updated


Yasunaga Ogita talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic


North Pole 2014 full route ski expedition list


ExWeb interview with Ryan Waters, "an unwritten and unexplainable mental edge”


ExWeb interview with Eric Larsen, "a mix of poetry and hell to the North Pole”


ExWeb interview with Bernice Notenboom, the Arctic and the world’s climate




Ray Zahab and team Baffin Island run 2014


Vincent Cochin to sledge-haul 2300km Canada to Greenland



Teams starting from Cape Discovery, Ellesmere Island to the Geographic North Pole (90ºN)


Unassisted, Unsupported:


Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo




North Pole solo website

North Polo solo Facebook



Michele Pontrandolfo, Italy, solo (cancelled)




Facebook (personal)



Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters:


Eric Larsen, USA






Ryan Waters, USA



Mountain Professionals

Mountain Professionals Facebook


Team Kristoffer Glestad (24), Norway and 

Lars Mangerud Flesland (25), Norway




Assisted, Unsupported:


Irish team Clare O'Leary and Mike O’Shea






Starting from Geographic North Pole (90N) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported


'Arctic March' team:

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK




1996 Magnetic North Pole

Matt Stowers and Kev O’Brien



Matt Stowers Twitter

Northern Exposure live tracker 



Canada to Greenland (Kugaaruk and Qaanaaq) 

Vincent Cochin

Blog (personal)

Blog (Nanook expedition)





Follow blog posts in the live News Stream on ExplorersWeb.


Weather links:


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


Canada Weather Office satellite image


NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory


University of Illinois cryosphere images


Wayne Davidson’s Extremely High Horizon Refraction


Wayne Davidson’s EH2R blog 



#polar #northpole2014 





Eric Larsen's gear (click to enlarge). "A flight to Cape Discovery or Ward Hunt Island costs $42,000. Getting picked up at the Pole by the same remote logistics operator, costs over $100,000,” explains Eric, here tucked in his orange drysuite.
courtesy Ryan Waters, SOURCE
Comparing notes and having fun in Resolute over the weekend, Kevin O'Brien, Clare O'Leary, Yasu Ogita, Mike O'Shea, Matt Stowers and Michele Pontrandolfo (click to enlarge).
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE
Not all the gear are off-the-shelf products and need modifications, says Yasu.
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE
Yasu, packing food for 50 days.
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE
Japanese calorie bars.
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE
The indispensable little scale, measuring milligrams.
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE
Ryan Waters with the salami and cheese he and Eric Larsen prepared in Resolute.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Matt and Kev took a dog with, but sent him back. "A good idea which hasn't worked, we will explain more later - but he isn't very good at spotting or reacting to bears. In fact a bear less than 200m away failed to get a reaction or interest from Skunk as Kev and I thought we were in an advance to contact. We also found that bear whistles attract rather than scare bears."
courtesy Matt Stowers and Kev O Brien, SOURCE
Cape Discovery route to the Geographic North Pole.
courtesy Arctic Ice Drift Maps 2013 : Image from http://www.arctic.noaa.gov / Mike O Shea and Clare O Leary, SOURCE