Survival at the North Pole: When the World Shatters

Breaking up, North Pole style

Skiing to the North Pole, towards the end our expedition became an increasing horror.

It was late May, the ice was melting and moving. Our skiing ground, once fairly solid pans, was breaking up as far as we could see, the expanding sections of open water threatening our progress.

In expedition mode and nearing our goal, there was no thought of failure or death. Only one thing occupied our minds: how to make it to the pole, at any cost.

In the final week, skipping over floating pans and swimming increasingly larger distances, I recall mulling the idea to tie up our two sleds, rig some form of a mast, and perhaps use our sleeping pads for sails to make a catamaran of sorts.

Desperate times make desperate minds. Come summer the Arctic Ocean leaves little choice. If caught in a bad spot it’s just you and the water. There are no vessels (save for the occasional submarine) and airplanes (needing a big pan to land on) can’t touch down.

Last year, polar scientists filmed from a research boat just how fast the destruction can occur. Here goes the video