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North Pole update: Ice conditions poles apart

Posted: Apr 10, 2014 07:10 am EDT


(By Correne Coetzer) Eric Philips, Bernice Notenboom and Martin Hartley, who started skiing from the Geographic North Pole on April 4, reported good, but cold weather, gliding sleds, small pressure ridges and a southern drift. 


This team skis mostly with the drift to Canada in contrast with the teams starting from Canada who mostly have to ski the miles again they drifted back. Bernice reported on the first day at the drop-off, the two hours they took to get settled in the tent, they already drifted 1 kilometer away from the Pole towards Canada. 


The Americans, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters reported pulling sleds in soft, sticky snow, which felt like "anchor dragging”. They, as well as solo Yasu Ogita, struggle forward with high pressure ridges and difficult conditions. 


See below a summary of the successful teams on the Arctic ice the past 7 years.



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


Unassisted, Unsupported:


Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo 

(start March 7)


News from Yasu’s home team in Japan says that he is maintaining good a physical condition, although the expedition is mentally demanding because he does not cover as many miles as expected. Conditions varied from poor visibility due to snowfall, a 2km re-frozen lead, smooth ice, rough ice and deep snow. Yasu has not yet encountered exceptionally big leads where he has to use his 14 kg kayak yet, and considers abandoning it. 


Temperature: -30ºC



14.5km, 9.6km, 5.6km, 9.6km, 15.1km


Position April 10, 21h33: 

N85º 16' 65.8’'   W76º 0' 60.2”


Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen (USA) 

(Start March 15: 83.043627N, 077.374263W)


The guys seem to get acclimatise to the cold as Eric wrote the hard work in the sun and no wind made them sweat on Day 26. But when they stop, to film and for a break, they start freezing. Ryan reported about snowfalls and no wind to blow the fresh snow away, which made sledge hauling conditions hard.


Day 25 they encountered some of the worse pressure areas he has ever seen, says Eric, who has already skied twice this route to the North Pole. Pans were 15-20 meters wide, but then they were faced with 15-20 ft high pressure ridges.


They have already a noticeable amount of weight   




4.8nm/ 8.9km, 7.0nm/ 12.9km, 8.59nm/ 15.9km


Tracker: 10 Apr 2014 02:51 GMT

Latitude: 84.725 | Longitude: -75.539

Dist To Pole: 364.9 Miles



Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada


Assisted, Unsupported

Expedition Hope:

Eric Philips, AU, Bernice Notenboom, NL/CA, Martin Hartley, UK

(Start April 4)


The team arrived at the North Pole at 1am, slept by 3am and up at 9. Skiing by 12h30 on a very good surface, towards Canada, reported Eric Philips. They covered over 12km in 5 hours. Mostly first-year, not much pressure. The second day they encountered only small pressure ridges and some small frozen leads, 


The team crossed a small lead, 3m wide, using the amphibious sleds as a raft.


A relatively warm start made way for -31C. Eric reported, "I skied all day dressed in base layer and fleece, using my food and activity to stave off cold. Bernice suffered in the cold today, her body finally realising that the bitter Arctic has no respite. Martin lethargic but plodding on.” Latest temperature: -40 degrees.


12km, 12km, 14km, 15km, 14km (in 7 hours hauling), 



Barneo Ice Camp /

Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

situated in last degree North

(Open April 3-22)


Last Degree teams and dogsled teams moved through Barneo. 50 Russian skydivers landed at the camp after the IL-76 dropped them fro trainning, as well as well as fuel and equipment, in difficult weather conditions when the fog moved in. 


Temp: -30ºC

Position April 9: N89°12.562’, E012°41.425’




Eric McNair Landry and Dixie Dansercoer are delayed by the weather in Tasiilaq, but the time is coming soon, Eric told ExWeb yesterday. "The whether in Greenland has been good for the last two days and once the scheduled [helicopter] flights are dealt with the pilots will be ready to take us to the ice!"


News from Finland has been received from Jaakko Heikka, who will be leading four Fins, Nina Teirasvuo, Jouni Tanninen, Heini Koivuniemi and Matias Utriainen, unassisted ski expedition across Greenland icecap from West to East (Point 660 to Isortoq). They plan to start on April 16th and if all goes well, to arrive to at Isortoq on May 14th. The members have previously crossed Vatnajökull glacier together in March-April 2012 (except for Matias Utriainen) and have done a three-week unassisted ski traverse of Spitsbergen in April 2011 (except Nina Teirasvuo). Jaakko added, if successful, Nina and Heini will become the 2nd and 3rd Finnish females skiing across the Greenland icecap. (Johanna Nousiainen in 2010 being the first.)



MLAE 2014 Russian Cars


April 9: 

Coordinates overnight 69° 18,664'N, 138° 20,938'W 

Odometer: 2822km 

Good ice conditions. One of the trailers of the Green caravan broke beyond repair. 

110 km to drive to the Alaskan border.



Baffin Island Cycle


Ben Rockett has completed a bicycle ride across a part of Baffin Island, according to his Twitter report.





Cornelius Strohm and Mika Chavarin to attempt Greenland Circumnavigation: ExWeb interview


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


North Pole: Ryan Waters fell in the water; Tractors airdropped; Greenland season to start



AdventureStats successful expeditions:


Land to Geographic North Pole 

2013: 1x car team from Russia

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 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.

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:


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 (90ºN) to Canada

Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo

(still to start)





Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported

(Start April 4)

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK





MLAE 2014 

(cars driving from Resolute Bay, Canada, to Russia)




Barneo Ice Camp /

Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

situated in last degree North

(Open April 3-22)



Facebook Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center



Last Degree to 1996 Magnetic North Pole 

Richard and Tessum Weber and team

(Start April 21)





Kite ski circumnavigation:


Eric McNair-Landry (CA) and Dixie Dansercoer (BE)

Blog Greenland Ice Expedition


Facebook (Polar Circles) 

Twitter (Polar Circles)

Facebook (Pittarak Expeditions)


Michael Chavarin (FR) and Cornelius Strohm (DE)



Finland Greenland

Jaakko Heikka, Nina Teirasvuo, Jouni Tanninen, Heini Koivuniemi and Matias Utriainen Homepage/blog


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





Russian amphibious Arctic cars on the move from Canada


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


Dixie Dansercoer and Eric McNair-Landry to kite-ski 5000+ km around Greenland




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








Ryan Waters: "We did some tough work and ended up taking our sleds up, over, around, and at one point I could swear under, ridges up to 20 feet high of giant blue ice cubes."
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Eric Larsen: "Trying to get our sleds through that twisted mess is a monumental effort as they bounce, veer, flip and turn as randomly as a pinball. At times, the sled will even start sliding backwards pulling one of us with it. Other times, it takes all of our strength to lift and pull a sled over an obstacle." Image Ryan Waters hauling.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Eric Philips, Bernice Notenboom and Martin Hartley following a lead, "Halfway on the ice the shore started to shriek and move and it was pushing the lead under water."
courtesy Martin Hartley, SOURCE
Eric Philips, April 9: "From camp we followed a frozen lead south for 7 hours making the kind of progress one dreams of in the early stage of a long expedition with heavy sleds. 18.5km. We also made up a little of the westerly we need to gain but need to recover a full 15 degrees to get to our intended line to Canada." (click to enlarge)
courtesy Eric Philips, SOURCE
Barneo Ice Camp.
courtesy Sergey Panteleev, SOURCE
50 Russian skydivers landed at the camp after the IL-76 dropped them, as well as well as fuel and equipment, in difficult weather conditions when the fog moved in.
courtesy Sergey Panteleev, 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