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Arctic Polar skiers presumably drowned; search discontinued - updated (2)

Posted: May 01, 2015 08:20 am EDT

(Correne Coetzer / Press Release. Updated May 1, 2015 13:00 EDT, to reflect status of watchdog Kimnik)

(Update 2: May 2, 2015, 02:50 pm EDT to reflect recovery operation plans)

Despite the Search and Rescue flights over the latest location of Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo, there is no sign of the two men on the ice or in the water, reported Cold Facts today.


"The site were the equipment is found is unchanged. The open-ice conditions make it not possible to land with an aircraft or helicopter. RCMP, Canadian and Dutch authorities are in close communication and cooperation. Early this morning, the RCMP confirmed that Marc and Philip are presumed drowned.”


Press release by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: 


On Wednesday April 29, 2015, Resolute Bay RCMP were advised that a distress call had been sent out by two expedition members from the Netherlands traveling on sea ice near Bathurst Island, approximately 200 kilometers north of Resolute Bay.  


In the early morning hours of April 29, 2015, a local aircraft had flown over the area and observed equipment belonging to the expedition members directly adjacent to an area of open water and very poor ice conditions.  A Search and Rescue (SAR) operation was activated by Nunavut Emergency Measures Organization (EMO).  


A second aircraft with local Search and Rescue personnel on board flew over the area later that day, failing to locate the two expedition members. They were able to confirm that there was expedition equipment including personal items floating in the water at the location of the distress signal.  


Further efforts to locate the individuals, or evidence of them departing the area has proven negative.  Based on the findings of the search teams, it is presumed that both subjects have drowned and the search has been discontinued. END


Footprints to open water


The search teams found only the dog, running around at the partially unzipped sled near the water, and other sled in the water. There were footprints from the sled to the water, but no footprints back. No persons or other footprints were found.


Ice conditions


Members of the polar community expressed their shock and disbelieve to Explorersweb about what happened to their friends and fellow polar adventurers.  


The Canadian search teams reported open water and poor ice conditions. Two Arctic explorers, who got to know the area well over the years, Jerry Kobalenko and Yasunaga Ogita, told Explorersweb that the area where the Dutchmen went missing, are known for its polynyas: areas with open, unfrozen water surrounded by ice. Yasu added that there is a fast current.


On April 28th, heading towards Bathurst Island, Marc reported in his last voice message that the temperature were warm towards the end of the day, so much so that he was skiing in his underwear. They saw a smoke-like line on the horizon, which points to open water, and avoided it. Marc added that they think they saw thin ice in front of them, which they found quite interesting, and planned to take a little detour to research it the next day. “We're going to research some more of that if we can.”


Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo were two experienced polar explorers. Marc is the founder of Cold Facts, an organization doing scientific research in the polar regions supported by the expertise of polar expeditions. Cold Facts encourages and facilitates scientific polar research, including measuring ice thickness or taking samples of snow.


Ed note: updated May 1, 2015 13:00 EDT:

Status of dog Kimik


Cold Facts reported, “Many people are concerned about the dog. The owner of the dog is part of the SAR team and she was one of the spotters on the plane. Thank you for your concern, we're on it."


Update 2: May 2, 2015, 02:50 pm EDT to reflect recovery operation plans


Cold Facts reported: “Canadian authorities are still working on the recovery operation. The recovery operation's focus is bringing home Marc and Philip with all their equipment, including the dog.Due to blizzard warning and rough weather, a helicopter flight to the site yesterday was cancelled. A new attempt will be organized today, May 2(Canada time) if weather allows. The dog, Kimnik proves to be a dedicated team-member. She protects the site from polar bears. She is a trained husky from Resolute and can survive for at least 3 weeks as her owner told us.”





Polar skiers missing on the Arctic Ice 




Marc Cornelissen: The new polar sled maker


New BGAN: Marc Cornelissen's Greenland report


Baltic Ice Crossing Report from Philip de Roo


Video podcast series focusing on the polar regions (Philip de Roo)


Thomas Ulrich abandoned North Pole ski (2015)










Early this morning, the RCMP confirmed that Marc and Philip are presumed drowned.
courtesy Explorersweb, SOURCE
Philip de Roo and Marc Cornelissen on the Arctic ice. They covered 200km (not 400km as previously reported) and their tracks stopped at open water.
courtesy Philip de Roo and Marc Cornelissen / Cold Facts, SOURCE
Only dog Kimnik and the sleds were seen from the air by the search teams. Kimnik was waiting at one sled next to big open water in the ice.
courtesy Cold Facts, SOURCE
Marc and Philip's route plan.
courtesy Cold Facts, SOURCE
Yasu Ogita pointed out to Exweb the polynyas on a satellite image of April 27th. He added, "this place has the same situation every year, with a fast current drifting here."
courtesy Yasunaga Ogita, SOURCE