North Pole 2009: Navigating By The Seat of Your Pants

Catlin Arctic 1373776c
It’s been a few days since I posted an update on the arctic teams, but they continue to make progress and receive attention from a variety of outlets, especially the Catlin Arctic Survey Team, which made headlines when they announced they use a pair of lacy underwear to help navigate. Apparently, when the compass doesn’t work, thanks to the close proximity to the magnetic North Pole, they’ll navigate by the sun, and when that fails, due to clouds or darkness, they’ll break out a tiny thong and use it to catch the wind. Thank goodness someone thought ahead enough to bring sexy underwear on the trip! This unconventional navigation system seems to working though, as the team passed a milestone today, reaching 83º N.

The Victorinox North Pole Team continues to move ahead, crossing 85º N a few days back, and averaging more than 8 nautical miles per day this past week. For the most part, the ice continues to be smooth and easily navigable for them, but in their last dispatch they reported large blocks of rubble once again, with some pieces the size of cars. This impeded their progress dramatically and has been a source of frustration at times, but hasn’t seemed to impacted John or Tyler’s demeanor at this point.

The Peary Centennial Expedition is also past 85º N and is making even better time than Victorinox, notching closer to 10 nautical miles per day in their recent activity. The team feels that they are about half done, in terms of time, although they still have a long way to go. They do expect their speed to continue to increase in speed as they get closer to the Pole. In the latest audio dispatch, Lonnie Dupre talks about the hardships of crawling out of a warm sleeping bag in the morning when it is -30º outside. He also notes that the bags have doubled in weight since they set off thanks to the fact that they have frozen. They do their best to try to thaw them, but such is the life of an arctic explorer.

Finally, the Baffin Babes haven’t put out a lot of dispatches on their journey, but they continue to press ahead on their exploration of Baffin Island. They did mention awhile back that they had met an Austrian hunter who had come to Canada to hunt polar bears, and the girls found that to be very odd, since the bears are protected pretty much everywhere else, except in Canada. The threesome will become a foursome soon as well, as Ingebjoerg Tollefsen reports that she’ll be off to Clyde River to join her friends in ten days. You may recall that Ingebjoerg was forced to stay behind due to illness, but she is now healthy and ready to go, and will be soon out on the ice too.

That’s all for now. Remember, if you ever get lost, you’ve always got your underwear to help you navigate! 😉

Kraig Becker

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