North Pole Update: Breaking Ice in the Pitch Darkness

Another update today on the North Pole Winter Expedition from Russian explorers Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin continue to make their slow progress as they attempt the first expedition to the North Pole completely in Winter.

As noted in the past, the men are traveling now when the ice is still relatively thin. It won’t reach it’s thickest until March or so, when the long polar nights will give way at last, and the first rays of the Sun will touch the ice as Spring returns to the region. But for now, the reports are that Matvey and Boris are making their way cautiously, as they have experienced regular break-up in the ice, which is made all the more scary by the fact that they now journey in complete darkness. The situation was so precarious that on the 5th of January, the men awoke to the sounds of ice creacking around them. They quickly scrambled out of their tent and left all their gear behind, only to return later when things settled down.

Conditions on the expedition have not been great. Besides the bitter cold weather, the men don’t even have the moon to light their way now. When the set out a few weeks back there was a full moon to guide them and give them solace, but now that the moon has waned, they travel in absolutely darkness. To make matters worse, negative drift is taking it’s toll as well. They report that on January 4th they hiked all day, working hard the entire time, only to find that as they camped for the night, they were now 10km further South then when they had begun! Talk about disheartening.

Such is the nature of a North Pole expedition, made al the worse by going in the dead of Winter. The two men hope to move further East, where they’ll finally reach the permanent ice pack. That should make their trek a bit more steady and safe. Now if they could just shake those polar bears.

Kraig Becker

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