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Barneo plane damaged on the ice, skiers grounded in Longyearbyen

Posted: Apr 06, 2015 02:26 pm EDT


(Correne Coetzer) Flights scheduled to fly to drifting Barneo Ice Camp in 89ºN on April 3rd were delayed in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, with the weather which was not suitable for landing at the ice runway. A blizzard, with wind speeds more than 20 m/s (40 knots / 75 km/h) and visibility less than 200 meters, kept the plane grounded.


With the weather cleared, a technical flight and a flight with the first batch of Last Degree skiers flew in on April 4th. The skiers started skiing immediately. 


An Antonov-74 on a technical flight got damaged in an “incident”, reported the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Geographical Society, with the failure of the right landing gear.  All are well and alive, reported the Russians yesterday. They are now waiting for a replacement aircraft, while repairing the damaged one.


Grounded skiers


The second group of Last Degree skiers and their guides, who were also scheduled to fly in on the 3rd, are still in Longyearbyen.


This year’s only full distance skier, Thomas Ulrich, is among those waiting - with the Last Degree team he is guiding before he will start skiing from the Geographic North Pole to Canada. His manager in Switzerland, Hans Ambühl, told Explorersweb that they are waiting for a replacement aircraft for the transport to Barneo. "The first Antonov had a technical defect when landing on the ice and is out of order for the moment. As far as I know nobody was hurt. But the plane needs maintenance in order to lift off again. Best guess is that Thomas and his group will fly to Barneo on April 9th.”


Veteran polar skier, Eric Philips is also waiting in Longyearbyen with a Last Degree group. They had to move out of their hotel with the delay as other people had booked the rooms. Fortunately other accommodation is available. Eric reported yesterday that they had climbed a nearby mountain in strong wind and it provided a good opportunity to test their clothes.


PolarExplorers reported that they have a Last Two Degree Dog team (220 km) waiting in Longyear.




The Russians reported on April 6th that a replacement Antonov-74 is on its way to Longyearbyen. The Ice Camp was expecting two Antonov-72 from Franz Josef Land today, but they had to turn back due to bad weather in their side. 


Barneo Data


April 5, 2015

Coordinates: N 89° 38' W 022° 27'

Temp: -20°C, wind of 3 m/sec.


April 6, 2015

Coordinates: N 89° 38’ W 023º 01'

Temp: -21°C, wind 8 m/sec.





Exweb interview with Thomas Ulrich: North Pole to Canada solo skier


North Pole 2015 Expedition List


Barneo Ice Camp sites


Expeditionary Center of the Russian Geographical Society


Barneo Journal










The Antonov-74 technical flight with equipment for Barneo Ice Camp: failure of the right landing gear damaged the plane on the ice runway.
courtesy Barneo Ice Camp Journal, SOURCE