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

Posted: Apr 22, 2014 02:30 pm EDT

 

(By Correne Coetzer) While solo skier Yasu Ogita has lost the battle against the Arctic Ocean's continued strong eastward drift, blizzards, large areas with high compacted ice ridges, rubble and slabs, the two Everest summiteers, Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen, are “stumbling forward”, fighting for every meter and to be safe every minute. "Safe here is a relative term”, reported Eric Larsen, when explaining the daily dangers and battles.

 

Barneo Ice Camp closes today and solo Norwegian skier, Bengt Rotmo left the Geographic North Pole for Canada yesterday, April 21.

 

Polar skiers at Everest Base Camp

 

Two polar skiers, Teodor Johansen, the youngest person to cross Antarctica on foot, and Vilborg Gissurardottir, the first person from Iceland to ski from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, are at Everest South Base Camp. 

 

Vilborg is in the team of Adventure Consultants, who lost three Sherpa and one injured in the avalanche on April 18.

 

Vilborg describes the great loss of the community at BC [Google translated from Icelandic], "One becomes very powerless to look up into the mountain side, a scene and know of people suffer without being able to do anything. One is so near and yet so far away.” She says their Sherpa staff have been invited to go home to their families if they wish. In an update today by Adventure Consultants, they report, after much discussion and consideration of all aspects the tough decision has been made to cancel the 2014 expedition this season. 

 

Teodor reports they arrived at BC only on the 20th. He says several expeditions have already decided to go home, but for their expedition, a decision whether they are allowed to continue or not will be taken later and "it is the Sherpas who will determine the way forward."

 

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

 

Unassisted, Unsupported:

Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo 

(start March 7, aborted April 19)

 

No new news from Yasu's home team about his withdrawal at the time of publishing, but weather permitting, possibly the 23rd.

 

Three days ago, on the vast frozen Arctic Ocean, after crossing one of the many pressure ridges, Ryan and Eric were surprised to see Yasu in his tent. They reported to have had a very short conversation about bad ice and moved on.

 

Unassisted, Unsupported: 

Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen (USA) 

(Start March 15 at 83.043627N, 077.374263W)

 

In an emotional phone dispatch, Eric says it is hard to describe the overwhelming sense of frustration that they have in these conditions - from a big lead to a huge, vast field of massive blocks of ice as far a they could see. It was just crazy, says Larsen. With their drysuits on for safety in case they fall in open water between the blocks, they used 3.5 hours to cover hardly half a mile. 

 

Describing how unsafe the surface was in another area, Eric said they crossed several leads where they balanced on floating ice islands or skimmed across sinking angled slabs of ice. "Then looking for an alternative route after Ryan's ski went through, I headed up a narrow gap of rubbly ice that is normally frozen solid as I shifted my weight from one ski to another the whole area collapsed underneath me.”

 

The past few nights the two men drifted backwards; 4nm/ 7.4km during the night of April 19 for example. It is disheartening, said Ryan, "hard to see the distance go away when you are sitting and sleeping."

 

Ryan has some cold injuries on his legs, which he finds hard to deal with at night. He says he and Eric are "pretty tired” and trying to stay positive, focusing on their short time goal, 87 degrees.

 

Distances:

9.2nm/ 17km, 10.6nm/ 19.6km, 10.5nm/ 19.5km, 10.8nm/ 20km

 

Tracker: 21 Apr 2014 12:24 GMT

Latitude: 86.437 | Longitude: 059.778

Dist To Pole: 213.9 Nautical Miles / 246.4 Miles / 396.2 Kilometers

 

Tracker: 22 Apr 2014 12:31 GMT

Latitude: 86.605 | Longitude: 059.131

Dist To Pole: 203.9 Nautical Miles / 234.9 Miles / 377.5 Kilometers

 

 

Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

 

Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo

 

Bengt has been at the North Pole, since April 19, waiting for the Barneo helicopter to pick up the guy he guided the last degree to the NP, and eventually started skiing south to Canada on April 21. 

 

Assisted, Unsupported

Expedition Hope:

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

(Start April 4)

 

After a start with a relatively smooth surface near the Pole, the terrain has become more challenging and the eastward storm-driven drift continued.

 

A strong wind blew the team even more to the east over the weekend and has also created large drifts and sastrugi perpendicular to their line of travel, making sled hauling literally a drag, reported Eric. For the first time they couldn’t combat the easterly drift, he added, and at the end of the day ended further east than when they began in the morning. "We are now almost 100km from our preferred meridian.”

 

Distances 16km, 13km, 10km, 19km

 

Position April 22: 87º 28’22.04”, 051º48’55.22”W  

The storm ended and they crossed a large fractured area with many open leads but most had easy constrictions or ice bridges.

 

 

Barneo Ice Camp /

Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

(Open April 3-22)

 

The Last Degree teams also experienced difficulty with the eastward drift and open waters. Polar Explorers sent news over to ExWeb that one of their teams consisted mainly of Russians but does include Niall Carton and his son James aged 15. Russian polar explorer Matvey Shparo, as the past seven years, also leaded a team of teenagers from age 15.

 

The Ice Camp closed down today. The AN-74 took the last skiers and clients to Longyearbyen. Kenn Borek Air flew scientists to Canada. The two MI-8 helicopters started their long flight back to Russia.

 

Watch this video of skydivers jumping near Barneo from the Russian Ilyushin-76.

 

Borneo Coordinates April 20: 

N88° 11.150’ E013° 59.530' 

Temperature -17°C, and northwestern wind of 10 m/s snowstorm drifting 

 

Borneo Coordinates April 21: 

N88° 03,570’ and E013° 28,341'. 

Weather: temperature -19°C, northwest wind 5 m/s, visibility 10 miles. 

 

 

1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole Last Degree

 

The Weber family, Richard and Tessum, is guiding 53 military veterans and civilians to raise awareness for PTSD on the last 110 km to 78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11’54.00”W. They have been busy in Resolute Bay with the last preparations for their departure on April 22 (weather permitting), reported Tessum. They will ski only on land-ice.

 

 

MLAE 2014 

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

 

The cars have come to a halt at Barrow, Alaska, on April 19. The ice of the Chukchi Sea is too dangerous to cross to Russia with the vehicles and the expedition will continue next year. 

 

 

Previous:

 

Solo skier, Yasu Ogita, aborted North Pole expedition

 

North Pole skiers drifting significantly (negative) in Arctic blizzard

 

 

AdventureStats successful expeditions:

 

Land to Geographic North ’ole 

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 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 dr”ft 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)

Website

Facebook

Blog

North Pole Solo website

North Polo solo Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Tracker

 

Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters

Last North Expedition:

(start March 15)

 

Ryan Waters, USA

Website

Facebook

Mountain Professionals

Mountain Professionals Facebook

 

Eric Larsen, USA

Website

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Tracker

 

 

Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Unassisted, Unsupported

Bengt Rotmo

(still to start)

Website

Twitter

 

 

Starting from Geographic North Pole (90ºN) to Canada

Assisted, Unsupported

(Start April 4)

Eric Philips, Australia

Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada

Martin Hartley, UK

Website

 

Other:

 

MLAE 2014 

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

Diary

Facebook

Tracker

 

Barneo Ice Camp /

Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

situated in last degree North

(Open April 3-22)

Website

Blog

Facebook Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center

LIveJournal

 

Last Degree to 1996 Magnetic North Pole 

Richard and Tessum Weber and team

(Start April 21)

 

 

Greenland

 

Kite ski circumnavigation:

 

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

Blog Greenland Ice Expedition

Tracker

Facebook (Polar Circles) 

Twitter (Polar Circles)

Facebook (Pittarak Expeditions)

 

Michael Chavarin (FR) and Cornelius Strohm (DE)

Website

 

Yuri Klaver (USA to Greenland via CA)

Website 1

Website 2

Facebook

Spot Location

Twitter

 

 

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

 

 

Previous/Related

 

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

 

AdventureStats

 

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 left alone at the Geographic North Pole to continue his solo expedition. He waited for the Barneo helicopter at the Pole since April 19, to pick up his Last Degree client.
courtesy Barneo Ice Camp / Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center, SOURCE
Bengt Rotmo, after guiding two Last Degree expeditions (2x 110km), now have 780km of Arctic ice and water ahead of him.
courtesy Barneo Ice Camp / Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center, SOURCE
"We are always up and down mentally here since it is a hard place," said Ryan Waters yesterday. "Now throw in the literal ups and downs of trying to ski across ice in a whiteout over the peaks and valleys of the countless wind features, which you can't see until you already into the side of one or over. This has a tendency to shift your mood into that downward spiral.” Image: Ryan crawling forward.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
Ryan Waters and Eric Larsen's location, showing the wind-driven drift to the northeast. Click to enlarge.
courtesy Eric Larsen, SOURCE
The blizzard and eastward drift hit Eric Philips, Bernice Notenboom and Marten Hartley this weekend.
courtesy Eric Philips, SOURCE
April 20 positions of Last Degree teams, Barneo (dotted line) and Eric Philips' team (red line on left). Click to enlarge.
courtesy Barneo Ice Camp / Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center, SOURCE
Eric Philips: "We are now almost 100km from our preferred meridian."
SOURCE
Ice conditions as seen by Barneo photographer (click to enlarge).
courtesy Barneo Ice Camp / Russian Geographical Society Expeditionary Center, 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
Richard and Tessum Weber guiding 53 military veterans and civilians.
courtesy Tessum Weber, SOURCE
The Russian vehicles are halted till next year by dangerous ice in the Chukchi Sea.
courtesy MLAE 2014, SOURCE
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