North Pole 2009: Teams Halfway Home

z skiing the arctic ocean
Yesterday I worked on getting caught up with what was happening in the Himalaya, today it’ll be the North Pole, where the teams are making steady progress towards their goal, and several have now passed the halfway point.

One of those teams is the Victoronix North Pole team who achieved that milestone at the end of last week. In their weekly recap, John Huston and Tyler Fish report that the full moon, which typically brings high tide and more open water/broken ice, seemed to have little impact on their conditions or progress. They also note that they have some concerns about the amount of fuel they are carrying and if it is enough to get them to the Pole, since they are going in an unassisted fashion. Because of those concerns, they’ve taken some measures to conserve that fuel, using less to warm up their water, wearing their fleece layers inside their tent so they don’t need to warm it as much, and so on. As a result, they now feel like they have things under control, and are feeling good about the expedition so far.

The Peary Centennial Expedition has also passed the halfway point, and are now in fact passed the 88thº and expect to pass 89º today. Lonnie Dupre reports that the terrain has begun to level out, and obviously they will be at the North Pole within a matter of days now. He also goes into detail about the 8000+ calories they are eating on a given day to fuel their progress. Some of the things they eat include hot chocolate, oatmeal, energy bars and energy drinks, sticks of butter, nuts, and various dehydrated foods. Despite all of that, Lonnie says the team is looking thinner all time, even in their polar gear.

The Catlin Arctic Survey team has not reached the halfway point just yet, mostly because they are carrying heavy scientific gear on their sleds, and are stopping regularly to measure the ice. The team has another resupply last week which brought them fresh, and dry, sleeping bags, which has made the trip north a bit more comfortable for everyone. Over the weekend they ran across a set of polar bear tracks, which reminded them that they are not alone out on the ice. The big white beasts are the largest land carnivore on the Earth and the only one known to stalk humans, so of course they are keen to avoid this one. The team is also reporting that they’ve been finding strange yellow deposits in the ice that resemble a yellow gem of some kind. At first they thought it bight be the result of animal urine, but soon dismissed the idea as they came across more. They’ve taken some photos, which we haven’t seen yet, but at this point, they’re stumped as to what they could be. Interesting.

Meanwhile, Christina Franco is back out on the ice after flying to Barneo last week. She’s now making a last degree journey to the Pole that she sees as training following her aborted attempt at a solo journey from the Canadian side last month. She reports that she woke up today to find that she had gained 4 nautical miles while sleeping thanks to positive drift. Even more amazing, in that time she also traveled 14 nautical miles east! All in a days work for the North Pole teams!

More updates soon!

Kraig Becker

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