North Pole 2010: Two Teams Reach North Pole!

While I was away, two teams managed to complete their journeys to the North Pole, while other explorers were forced to give up on their dreams and call for an evac, ending their long, cold, struggles against the Arctic conditions.

Back on April 23rd, Eric Larsen and his team reached 90ºN, finishing their quest to stand at the top of the world. It took them 51 days to cover the route, and the fittingly enough, they reached the Pole on Earth Day no less. For Eric, this is the second of three poles that he expects to visit this year, as part of his Save The Poles campaign, leaving just the “third pole”, Mt. Everest, yet to be conquered. He’ll take on that task this fall. Congrats to Eric, Antony, and Darcy on a job well done.

Just two days after the boys reached their finish line, Dan Darley and Amelia Russell brought their expedition to a successful conclusion as well. The two Brits made the last few days into a marathon of sorts, spending upwards of 18 hours on their skis in an effort to battle the negative drift and finish off the few remaining miles. For Amelia, this is a major milestone, as she becomes just the third woman to complete the North Pole trek, joining Tina Sjogren and Cecilie Skog. The pair were picked up by a Russian helicopter yesterday and are now at the Barneo Base, waiting extraction back to civilization. A hearty congratulations to both Dan and Amelia on their amazing efforts as well.

Unfortunately, two other solo adventurers were not quite as lucky in their quests to reach 90º N. Aussie Tom Smithengale activated his emergency beacon back on April 15th, and had to be retrieved from the ice post haste. Tom was suffering from frostbite on several fingers and toes, and was displaying signs of exhaustion as well. Pictures posted to his website also show significant weight loss, as you would expect on an expedition like this one. The rescue team indicated that the explorer was picked-up at the right time, before things got really dangerous. I’m sure Tom is feeling a bit of a personal let down for not reaching his goal, but upon reflection later on, he’ll understand what an amazing adventure he has had. I always enjoyed reading his updates, and was rooting for him to reach the Pole, as he always seemed to have a great attitude, and a positive outlook. Rest up Mate! I hope those fingers and toes all heal up quickly and properly.

Finally, Italian Michele Pontrandolfo also called for an evacuation, but his retrieval was a bit delayed thanks to a storm. He was picked up a few days back after giving a very valiant effort as well. Michele was ready and eager for the task, but was suffered from slow progress due to the various challenges of the Arctic, and was never really able to mount a true challenge to reaching the North Pole. Perhaps he’ll take the lessons learned from this expedition and give it a go next year, when he’ll be more experienced and prepared for the journey. I salute him for not giving up however, as that is a very large part of the adventurous spirit.

That about wraps it up for the North Pole Season for this year. Sorry I had to post a recap instead of following along as it happened. I was a bit busy the past two weeks though, so I’m sure you’ll understand. 🙂

Kraig Becker