Updates from the North this morning:
After remaining stationary for four days, waiting for the weather to clear, the Catlin Arctic Survey Team finally got their resupply yesterday, when a Twin Otter landed on the ice to deliver much needed food and other gear. Upon receiving the supplies, Pen, Ann, and Martin promptly got underway trying to make up for some of the time they lost while waiting for the plane. Conditions remain very cold, -40ºC and demanding, but they’re happy to be on the move once again.
Christina Franco has updated her plans for the North Pole as well. You may recall that Christina had hoped to attempt to become the first woman to go solo to the North Pole, striking out form Canada a few weeks back. Unfortunately she was forced to abandon that quest when her stove suffered a double failure leaving her with no way to warm her tent or heat her food. She has quickly regrouped however, and will leave for Russia on April 2nd then on to Borneo on the 5th to begin a “last degree” trip to the Pole that will serve as a training for 2010, when she hopes to make another attempt at the solo journey. If everything comes together as expected, she’ll be back out on the ice from April 10-21.
The Victorinox North Pole Team is reporting a lot of “new” sea ice as they make their way north, which they say is a lot less stable and melts more quickly, but is also free from snow, allowing them to ski much faster. As a result, they’ve been putting up good mileage the past few days covering as much as 6 nautical miles in a day. A few days back they also made a dispatch about how they navigate in the Arctic that is quite interesting. They talk about the lack of features and landmarks around them, and how they have to learn to trust their sense of direction and use the sun as a reference point. The wind can also be used, as long as you know the direction it is blowing, but it can be unreliable at times too. Finally, they talk about using a compass, but you have to figure out the difference between due North and Magnetic North. For instance, right now, the Magnetic North Pole is to the west of them, and it pulls the needle of the compass 77º off their actual course to the geographic North Pole. Interesting stuff, and another example of the challenges that these explorers have to overcome.
Finally, the Peary Centennial Expedition has enjoyed some flat and smooth conditions, paired with decent weather and temps as high as -20ºF. As a result, they’ve made good time and progress and have now crossed the 84th parallel. They have suffered a few minor equipment issues on their skis, but managed to repair them in the tent overnight, and should be good to go today.
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