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North Pole update: Russians found Barneo ice floe; Ogita in blizzard near 84ºN

Posted: Mar 28, 2014 05:52 pm EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) The Russian crew found a suitable ice floe at N89º 39' to build Barneo Ice Camp. The parachuters and helicopter crews are waiting for the Ilyushin-76 to drop the tractors by parachute, but the plane is grounded in Murmansk due to bad weather.  


Solo skier, Yasu Ogita is in reach of 84 degrees North, but is also grounded in a blizzard and drifting. Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen reported a drift to the East.



Barneo Ice Camp


The snow at N89º 39’ is relatively small, reported the Barneo builders. Floe size is 1400-1500 200-300 meters. The two Mi-8 helicopters have reached the parachuters and construction of a runway ice runway will begin as soon as the Ilyushin-76  can get in the air from Murmansk to drop the two tractors and other equipment by parachute. Preparation time until the ice runway is completed is estimated at 2-3 days.



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


Unassisted, Unsupported:


Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo 

(start March 7)


News updates from Yasu’s home team, Kentaro Fujii and Hakasi Oki:


March 24:

Location: N83º 49 5.3   W077º 11 12.3

Distance covered: 11.5km

Weather: Cloudy 

Temperature: -23ºC

Yasu was able to walk on the large ice plate without rough ice throughout the day.


March 25:

N 83º 54 7.9   W77º 5 76.6

Distance: 9.4km

Weather: Clear after cloudy skies 

Temperature: -24ºC 


His remarks:

He maintaining a good physical condition but is stressed out mentally, Yasu reported. He was able to walk on flat ice in the morning although visibility was low. However, he was surrounded by the rough ice in the afternoon and was not able to cover the distance in the afternoon although the visibility improved. The zipper of the outer shell jacket broke. “I will try to replace this by the one on the down jacket. Hope this works."


March 26:

N83º 55 79.4   W 77º 4 44.4

Distance: 8.8km

Weather: Clear  

Temperature: -23ºC

He reported, "Maintaining good physical condition and less mental stress than yesterday. I was able to walk on the flat ice in the evening although struggled with rough ice in the morning from 8:30 to 14:30. Reaching to N84 within 20 days was our plan made right after my departure, so I am holding a good pace so far. I wish I can walk on a smoother ice tomorrow." 


March 27:

Location: N83º 59 11.5   W76º 52 1.7

Distance: 0km

Weather: Blizzard  

Temperature: -17ºC

Yasu woke up in a "severe blizzard" from the North which turned WSW. "Expecting the lead open from N to S due to the strong wind from West to East. I may need to stay here for two days due to this blizzard."


Trudy Wohlleben of Canadian Ice Service reported to ExplorersWeb that "fractures have developed to the west of Yasu’s position due to the strong west-southwesterly blizzard winds and it is hard to see through the clouds where Yasu is, to know for certain if any fractures have developed at his location. CIS advised that he should keep watch for further ice movement and fracturing today and tomorrow.”



Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen (USA) 

(Start March 15th)


Latest positions for the team are:

27 Mar 2014 13:07 GMT

N83.406, W076.726

Distance 3.16 nm 


28 Mar 2014 13:22 GMT

N83.46, W076.201


On this “hard and brutal” expedition, in the extreme cold and the ice moving underneath them, Ryan and Eric waste no time on long breaks. Ryan explains that they stop only two minutes 2 minutes during breaks "while we ponder our precarious position and questionable life choices”, and midday, "especially days like today [Mar 27], cold, biting wind and white, we reach that mid day "soup break" and out comes 4 minutes of shear warm goodness to warm the old bones." 


Latest report from Eric was bad weather, white-out conditions, strong winds and they could not see any definition in the snow, which made going slow and them falling over ice blocks. Also a huge, massive pressure area with blue blocks, uncovered with snow, challenged the guys. They have drifted over 2 miles east during the night. 



MLAE 2014 Russian Amphibious Cars


Canadian Ice Service also sent over news about ice conditions for the Russian cars, "they will soon be coming to the end of the safe fast ice zone and will be entering a zone where the width of the fast ice is very narrow (<<500m), along the south shore of Amundsen Gulf.”



A note on the North Pole 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 distance 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.


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




Russian amphibious Arctic cars on the move from Canada


North Pole skiers tent bounded in blizzard



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


Unassisted, Unsupported:


Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo 

(start March 7)




North Pole Solo website

North Polo solo Facebook





Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters

Last North Expedition:

(start March 15)


Ryan Waters, USA



Mountain Professionals

Mountain Professionals Facebook


Eric Larsen, USA








Starting from Geographic North Pole (90N) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported


'Arctic March' team:

(Start April 2, Barneo/weather permitting)

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK





MLAE 2014




Barneo Ice Camp /

Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

situated in last degree North

(Open April 2, weather permitting)



Facebook Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center


Last Degree t” 1996 Magnetic North Pole 

Richard and Tessum Weber and team

(Start April 21)


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





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 #Barneo2014





The Ilyushin-76 dropped staff and equipment 84 km from the Geographic North Pole to build Barneo Ice Camp.
courtesy Press office Expedition Center Russian Geographical Society, SOURCE
Equipment dropped by the IL-76 near the North Pole, waiting for the helicopters to arrive.
courtesy Press office Expedition Center Russian Geographical Society, SOURCE
From March 21 to 25 the Mi-8T helicopters stayed grounded on the Severnaya Zemlya. Weather conditions did not allow them to fly to the central region of the Arctic ice floes to search for a camp site.
courtesy Press office Expedition Center Russian Geographical Society, SOURCE
Helicopters eventually reached the crew dropped by the IL-76 and they found the suitable ice floe to build Barneo Ice Camp.
courtesy Dasha Shlykova, SOURCE
Video: The attraction of 90 degrees North.
courtesy Press office Expeditionary Center Russian Geographical Society, SOURCE
Eric Larsen: "[Ryan and I] don't talk much during the day but there are few seconds when we stop after walking back for the second sled that our interactions span more than a few grunts or 'ok' (whick means anything from start pulling to I'm not injured)."
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Ryan Waters, in the image, pushing forward. Eric said they curved to the west of some huge car sized blocks then back east where both Ryan and he had to crawl up a steep drift. "Unpleasant."
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Ryan Waters in front of a pressure ridge.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Eric Larsen taking a 4 minute lunch break.
courtesy Ryan Waters, 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