North Pole Winter Update: Navigating By Stars

It’s been awhile since I posted an update on the North Pole Winter team, but today we have news via Russians Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin continue their expedition in an attempt to reach the North Pole entirely in Winter, which also means they’re traveling in complete darkness at all times.

From the latest report it’s clear that the men are exhausted both mentally and physically. The discuss their routine of getting up in the morning and continuing to ski towards their goal, but that time has mostly lost all meaning for them as they never see the Sun and rarely know what day of the week it is. They also mention that they have, at times, dispensed with their GPS systems and have oriented themselves by using the stars overhead, a method that harkens back to explorers of old.

The pair mention other things that have begun to wear on them on their journey as well. Due to the extreme cold, they are forced to wear protective glasses most of the time, but in the perpetual darkness, the glasses bother them even more, tricking them into thinking that there is something in the night, just out of sight, that they can’t quite make out. They both are longing for really good food from home (Boris his mother’s pancakes, Matvey craves good bread and cheese), and they dream of things far away from the barren ice wastes they now explore. The cold has invaded their sleeping bags, and although they remain warm, their outer shells are covered in a layer of ice. Like wise, their down jackets have have “become lumpy” as certain areas are frozen, lessening their ability to keep the men warm.

Still, they continue to make progress. As of this latest report, they have traveled 350km from their starting point at Cape Arktichesky. Their position, as of Feb. 11th, was 85° 47′ N, 84° 38′ E, which means they still have a ways to go, and the negative drift doesn’t help that situation, but each day still brings them a little closer to their goal, which also means that they are one day closer to those pancakes.

Kraig Becker

5 thoughts on “North Pole Winter Update: Navigating By Stars”

  1. I must say, having read a few of these recaps now, this sounds like just about the most miserable expedition I’ve ever heard about.

  2. I have to agree with you. When reading their latest dispatches, at least once each time I stop and think to myself “Those poor bastards!” I only hope that after all of that suffering they actually reach the Pole.

  3. Definitely agree with you there Sean. These guys have been out on the ice for days already, and the other North Pole expeditions are still at home planning for the most part. While I can’t imagine the amount of suffering that these two have gone through, it definitely is an amazing expedition.

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