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North Pole: Bengt Rotmo talks to ExWeb from the Arctic Ocean

Posted: May 12, 2014 03:32 pm EDT


(By Correne Coetzer) While waiting for the Kenn Borek Twin Otter to fly the last flight of the 2014 North Pole season, ExplorersWeb caught up with Bengt Rotmo in his tent, via his home team manager in Oslo, Lars Ebbesen. 


Last week when Kenn Borek picked up Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen at the Geographic North Pole, the pilots assessed the ice from the air and found that it became too dangerous to land later in the season in case of an emergency rescue for the remaining two teams, solo Bengt and Eric Philips and team. Evacuation date was set for May 12, weather permitting. 


After guiding two Last Degree expeditions (110 km each), Bengt started skiing the 780 km route from the Geographic North Pole south to Canada on April 21. Since the start, strong and continuous winds hampered travel with backwards and eastern drifts, cancelling hard earned miles. Usually the Pole-to-Land skiers benefit from a mostly positive drift.  


Lars Ebbesen explained, "He has (probably) done the 15-20km planned for, but the drift has reduced that to 5-15km instead of getting some 2-3 (to 10) km bonus drift a day.” Bengt says to ExWeb his average was "too little to be comfortable” and on top of that "the 5-15 km drift was not towards Canada." 


How far is he from Canada, Exweb wants to know from Bengt. "A Greenland crossing,” responded this Greenland guide, who has done several horizontal Greenland crossings. 


Bengt has still food for 25 days left, but was willing to try to catch seal if necessary to stock his food bags. He has seen several. Physically and mentally he feels strong, Bengt assures ExWeb. 


Was that a wise decision to start so late, ExWeb wants to know. "Depend on who you ask, to some people this is not a wise place to be any time of the year.”


"To me this trip has been great. Being up here alone for 20+ days has been great. And an experience I need for later. Since I was working until Barneo closed I really didn't have a choice. But an early start would be better."


Bengt's second Last Degree seemed to have been a challenge with the weather and drift. How energized did he feel after the last degrees, we want to know. Didn't that drain a lot of his energy and body weight? Did he gain weight before the LDs. If yes, how much?


"It's hard to gain weight when you are out all the time
;-) It has been a busy year. But it gets the engine going.”


"Both Last Degrees were great. Some drift on the last one, but not like I have experienced after the Pole."


Bengt has done three Northern Patagonia Ice Cap crossings where he had encountered really bad weather. How does the weather on the Arctic Ocean compare to there? "It cannot be compared, much more windy in Patagonia, a lot colder in the Arctic. Though yesterday was pretty windy by any standard."


The Norwegian has done several Last Degrees. Is that in a way preparation for doing the full distance, ExWeb asked. "LDs are my work, which I truly love from the bottom of my heart! Both the ice and all the people I meet year after year. Meeting the clients and the other guides first on Spitsbergen, having a wonderful time in the ice, then the gathering at Barneo after the trip. It's a moment of the year that I always look forward to, hope it will continue for many, many years!”


"But prep wise, a full length is a notch up from LDs in every respect - mentally, safety, simplicity and physically. The pulka is heavier, changes in the time of year make it different. And finally, a lot more days."


Were there times that he though it is better/safer to have a team mate in the bad weather and dangerous and difficult ice conditions on the Arctic Ocean? "Mostly it is always safer to be two, but one of my main goals was to see how I'm doing all by myself. So far we are good friends both me and myself :-) It has been a great time."


Is this Pole-to-Land a ‘preparation' for something more? (if we can use 'preparation' for such an enormous challenge), ExWeb wants to know from Bengt. "To me its all about learning more, and yes, I would love to do a colder trip up here. Time will show."


Bengt is currently situated on "nice flat ice” where the plane can land, but it is overcast, he told ExplorersWeb this morning. The Kenn Borek Twin Otter will depart from Eureka in the very high Canadian Arctic as soon as the weather permits. 


Weather news just received from Canadian Ice Service, predicts that weather-wise the best pick-up date may be May 13.  


Norwegian Bengt Rotmo is a guide for Borge Ousland Polar Exploration, on Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland and the Northern Patagonia Ice Cap. Among his expeditions he has guided a Norwegian group from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and has across the Northern Patagonian Ice Cap three times. 





The North Pole is over: all teams to be evacuated


North Pole update: Bengt Rotmo to be picked up


North Pole update: "Safe here is a relative term”


North Pole 2014: Bengt Rotmo to ski solo North Pole to Canada


Northern Patagonia Ice Cap: ExWeb Interview with Bengt Egil Rotmo


Borge Ousland, Thorleif Nokleby and Bengt Rotmo on their way to the Northern Patagonia Ice Cap


Bengt Rotmo and team at the South Pole


Video: 2012 Northern Patagonia Ice Cap crossing



AdventureStats successful expeditions:


Land to Geographic North Pole 

2014: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada

2013: 1x car team from Russia (did a crossing)

2010: 1x unassisted ski team from Canada

         3x assisted ski teams from CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team from CA

         1x assisted ski team from CA

2008: 1x assisted ski team from Russia (winter exped)

2007: 1x assisted ski team from CA


Geographic North Pole to Land

2013: 1x assisted dog team to CA

2012: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Svalbard

2011: 2x assisted ski teams to CA

2009: 1x unassisted ski team to Greenland

2007: 1x unassisted ski and kayak team to Franz 

         Josef Land

         1x assisted ski team to Greenland


assisted = resupplied



A note on the North Pole daily ski distances: They are calculated in a straight line from where the skiers start in the mornings and end in the evenings. What is not added, are all the detours around high ridges, ice blocks, rubble or leads (open water). Also not added are the negative drift and relaying sleds.


A North Pole expedition covers the full dist”nce between land and the Pole (90ºN).

The Cape Discovery route (Canada) to the Geographic North Pole is 780 km. 

Ward Hunt Island (Canada) start point calculates at 775 km.

A Degree of Latitude is 60 nm / 110 km. 


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



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


Unassisted, Unsupported:

Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters

Last North Expedition:

Start March 15 at 83.043627N, 077.374263W

End My 6 at 90N


Ryan Waters, USA



Mountain Professionals

Mountain Professionals Facebook


Eric Larsen, USA








Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo

(started April 21)





Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported

(Start April 4)

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK


Bernice Notenboom Twitter

Icetrek Expeditions Facebook

Expedition Twitter

Icetrek Twitter




Kite ski circumnavigation:


Eric McNair-Landry (CA) and Dix”e Dansercoer (BE)

Blog Greenland ICE Expedition


Facebook (Polar Circles) 

Twitter (Polar Circles)

Facebook (Pittarak Expeditions)


Michael Chavarin (FR) and Cornelius Strohm (DE)



Yuri Klaver (USA to Greenland via CA)

Website 1

Website 2


Spot Location




Follow blog posts (with RSS feeds) in the live News Stream on ExplorersWeb.






Sean Chapple's insights: Laying the Foundations for Success


North Pole: Irish team injured and evacuated - update: Norwegians also off


North Pole Norwegians and Americans flying to Cape Discovery - updated landed and skiing


NASA: Warm Rivers Play Role in Arctic Sea Ice Melt


Norwegian North Pole team talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic


North Pole 2014: first skiers flying to their start point


Dmitry Shparo's Top 5 North Pole Tips


Irish North Pole team checking in at ExWeb from Resolute Bay


The cost of Arctic travel: Jerry Kobalenko talks to ExWeb


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



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  #bengtrotmo





Bengt Rotmo: "Mostly it is always safer to be two, but one of my main goals was to see how I'm doing all by myself. So far we are good friends both me and myself :-) It has been a great time."
courtesy Bengt Egil Rotmo, SOURCE
Fifty Shapes of Ice. Bengt, "Since I was working until Barneo closed I really didn't have a choice. But an early start would be better."
courtesy Bengt Egil Rotmo, 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