It was a fairly quiet season for the North Pole in 2008. The two big expeditions were derailed fairly early on, as Hannah McKeand was sent home with an injury and Ben Saunders had to abandon his solo bid for the speed record following equipment failure. There were a few “Last Degree” North Pole journeys of course, but they’re generally reserved for the adventure tourist with plenty of cash.
Barneo saw plenty of action however, as it was barely open for business when Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin blew into town, fresh from their expedition to the North Pole, the first ever completed entirely in winter and darkness. When Mat and Boris were plucked from the Pole they had a lay over at Barneo before returning to Moscow, and then presumably some place tropical.
Participants in the Arctic Marathon also dropped by and used Barneo as their base of operations while they ran the “World’s Coolest Marathon”. Reports are they shredded up the floor of the mess tent while they were there as well, forcing a complete rebuild of the site.
ThePoles.com has a more through overview of the season with more highlight, and lowlights for that matter. Needless to say, while the North Pole was mostly quiet this year, Barneo was still quite active. For those that don’t know, it is the camp site from which most arctic expeditions from the European side of the Atlantic begin. It’s located roughly 60 miles from the North Pole, and has to be rebuilt each year thanks to the shifting of the ice. Usually a bulldozer is airlifted in clear the area and to build a runway for planes to land on the ice to delver supplies and people. A tent city follow not long after, and the season officially gets underway.
With it’s closure, the 2008 season is pretty much over, and we’ll have to look towards 2009 to see if Hannah, Ben, or anyone else attempts another big expedition up top.
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