As Mat and Boris wait for the polar sunrise, others are preparing to head out onto the ice for the first time. The 2008 North Pole season is about to kick off in a big way, and the launching pad for those expeditions, at least on the Russian side, is ready to go.
According to ThePoles.com the Barneo Camp has been established, officially kicking off the season. The camp is built each season out on the ice, generally about 60 miles from the North Pole, although the Polar Drift does make it a bit of a moving target. Last year they brought in a bulldozer to plow out a landing strip for cargo planes, and I’d imagine they’ve done the same this year. Once established, teams will be able to catch a lift to the camp, and make “last degree” ski expedition to the Pole.
Of course, our favorite polar explorer, Hannah McKeand is already out on the ice and making her way North. Last year she went solo and unsupported to the South Pole, and she hopes to accomplish the same feat this year at the top of the world. If she does, she’ll be the first woman to make such a journey.
Hannah’s dispatches so far have told tales of woe for the most part. Not only has she described the expedition thus far as being far colder than she had anticipated, but she’s also had issues with her equipment not always working properly. Add to that the fact that it’s been slow going so far and I can’t help but think she’s more than a bit frustrated with the progress. One day this week she managed to log just 1.5 miles thanks to rough terrane, but made up for it the next day by gaining over 3 miles! Slow going indeed. Factor in the negative drift, and you can begin to see her frustration.
Things are expected to improve however. Later into the journey the landscapes should improve, allowing her to make much better time, more akin to what she was use to at the South Pole. The weather should improve as well, and as it warms up, she’s hoping that some of her electronic gear will work properly as well.
I have nothing but complete faith in Hannah. She was more than impressive at the South Pole and if anyone can reach the North, it’ll be her. It’s just going to be a very challenging journey for her.
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