North Pole 2008: Russians Home At Last! is reporting that Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin have atlong last been plucked from the ice and are now back in Moscow. The two Russian polar explorers set out late last year to become the first men to reach the North Pole entirely in winter. They reached their destination on March 14th, but elected to stay at the Pole until the 21st to observe the first sunrise of the year at 90º N.

Yesterday the runway at the Barneo Camp was finally completed, which not only allowed the first planes from Spitsbergen to arrive on the scene, but also opened the door for Matvey and Boris to be picked up from the North Pole and delivered home. The intrepid pair had a short visit to Barneo before resuming their journey back to Moscow.

In all, seven planes from Spitsbergen arrived yesterday alone. They delivered the first competitors for the North Pole Arctic Marathon as well as a number of other people who will be making a “last degree” journey to the top of the World.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, Ben Saunders continues his solo and unsupported expedition the Pole as well. So far he’s knocked off more than 45 miles, which leaves him with 368 to go. He reports that the flat ground that he currently travels over does little to break up the wind, which makes for some long cold days. He’s also been buzzed by a yellow Sea Otter plane a couple of times, scientists from Eureka keeping an eye on him and reminding him that he isn’t completely alone in the World.

Finally, Hannah McKeand has posted an update to let us all know that she’s home safe and sound. She gives a few more details about her journey home and gives thanks to everyone who helped retrieve her from the ice following her accident. She’s not finished with the North Pole yet however as is evidenced by her final few lines:

I just arrived back in the UK and intend to go straight to work on my search for a sponsor for next year. I can’t wait to be back on the Arctic Ocean. Watch this space, Hannah has unfinished business in the North!

Glad to hear you’re feeling better Hannah. Can’t wait to see you give it another go next year!

Kraig Becker

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