North Pole 2010: Teams Hitting Milestones!

While the arctic explorers are finding it tough going thus far, they are finding inspiration in small victories, as they begin to hit their first milestones on their journey to stand at the top of the world.

First up, we have news that Amelia Russell and Dan Darley hit the 84º line over the weekend, marking the completion of their first degree on the long journey to 90-North! They have set a goal to reach the Pole in 45 days, and are hopeful that they can accomplish that task, but know they have a long way to go before they do. Still, they’ve been surprised at how good the conditions have been for them so far, and are pleased with their progress. Today the British duo managed to knock off 7.4 nautical miles in 9.5 hours of skiing, which seems like a lot of work for the distance gained. But, all of that hard work will pay off in the end when the ice will be smoother and they’ll be making much better time.

Eric Larsen and his team are now 12 days out, and reportedly hit “Polar Paydirt” yesterday when they found their way around a lead, and had nothing but solid, flat ice in front of them, meaning they could don the skis for the first time in awhile, and start making positive progress with a bit less of an effort. As is typical in the arctic however, the good ice didn’t last, and they were back to snowshoes soon enough, but they were happy for the respite, however brief. Their last reported position was at 84.12ºN, leaving them roughly 347 miles to the Pole.

Australian Tom Smitheringale is making this epic journey solo and unassisted, and has continually had equipment issues since he set out. Yesterday he broke another ski pole, his second in three days, and that has caused him some dismay over the choices he made when selecting gear. Fortunates didn’t exactly improve today when he found himself facing a massive ice field with no discernible route through the rubble, which made for a very long and challenging day out on the ice. He covered about 4 kilometers in rough going.

It was a rough day for another solo explorer, as Christina Franco reports that she spent much of the day falling and struggling over the ice, while dealing with rubble. She battled one final ice field to end the day, but now has hard, smooth, open ice in front of her to start the day tomorrow. After a tough day today, she appears to still be in good spirits, and is looking forward to an easier beginning to her journey tomorrow.

Finally, The Catlin Arctic Survey 2010 Team have completed all of their prep work, and set out today from Resolute Bay for the Arctic Ocean. They were dropped just above 85ºN, where their Ice Base Team will begin to set up camp, with the Explorer Team, consisting of Ann Daniels, Martin Hartley, and Charlie Paton, going on to the Pole, collecting ice samples as they go. The team was delayed in setting out due to lost gear, bad weather, and delays to flights, but are now happy to be on their way and working on their very important mission.

Kraig Becker

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