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Polar skiers missing on the Arctic Ice

Posted: Apr 30, 2015 07:28 am EDT

(Correne Coetzer) Yesterday Polar adventurers, Marc Cornelissen and Philip de Roo, went missing while doing science research work on the Arctic ice. On March 29 they arrived in Resolute Bay in preparation for their ice survey project. On April 6th, they started sledge-hauling out of Resolute, heading North with their watch dog, Kimnik.


On April 29th, 400km out, the two sent out a distress signal, which was picked up by their Dutch home team in The Netherlands. An urgent pick-up was required, no further details available, reported the Polar Science Organization, Cold Facts. Planes went out to investigate.


The home team told a Dutch news source what they think happened, according to the tacks that were seen from the air: they had fallen through the ice. "You can see the tracks, that they were deflected, the one sled was put down and a distress signal has been sent out. Then you see the track running again, for a place where the ice is broken."


Here follows Cold Fact’s press release four hours ago:


When the plane arrived, the pilot was unable to land due to the open-water-ice conditions. The dog was found alive next to a sled and a big hole in the ice. No sign of Marc and Philip.


Soon this news came to us, a search and rescue action was coordinated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Due to the white-out weather conditions, a standby helicopter could not leave Resolute. Another search plane left Resolute; on board 4 spotters trained to search on the ice from the air. 


After an extended search flight, the plane spotted again the dog still in the same position. Also two sleds were found. One on the ice, partly unpacked. The other in the open water. 


The plane returned with no more news of Marc and Philip than that the sleds were found and that the open-water-ice conditions are too dangerous for either a helicopter or a plane to land.


Upon return of the latest search flight, the RCMP after consulting Canadian authorities, decided to start a recovery operation. Marc and Philip are still missing. END


Route plan


Marc and Philip had already covered 400 km in their survey to examen the thickness of the ice to determine the impact of climate change. 


The exact co-ordinates where the dog and the sleds were found is not given, but earlier this month, Cold Facts reported the following about their route plan (image on the left):


"After getting in touch with Christian Haas from York University, Toronto, the team has decided to change course to the North-East, in the direction of Baring Island, in order to collect more valuable scientific data. After reaching Baring Island, they will continue North again. On the map [left] you can see the originally planned route (blue dotted line) and the new route (solid orange line)."


"This new course means that they will very likely encounter some difficult terrain, where pressure ridges create big piles of ice. But the team is in good spirit, and ready for the challenge."


Among other expeditions, Marc Cornelissen skied to the Geographic North Pole in 1997 (from Canada’s Ward Hunt Island) and in 2000-2001 he did a kite-ski expedition across Antarctica, with Wilco van Rooijen, who was also one of the 4 NP members. Marc is already for years involved in research on the Arctic and Greenland ice. 


Among many climbs, Philip de Roo has done several Greenland crossings and has worked with Marc for several years now.


News about the tragedy was sent over by Bob Schelfhout Aubertijn after picking it up from Wilco van Rooijen.




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Philip de Roo and Marc Cornelissen on the Arctic ice. They covered 200 km (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 by the search team from the air. During both fly-bys, 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