The 2011 North Pole Season is over, at least from the Canadian side of the planet. Continued bad weather in Resolute Bay has grounded all outbound traffic, leaving the teams preparing to head into the Arctic stranded at the starting line.
According to ExWeb, who posted their own story on the topic here, all the teams currently in Resolute Bay have decided to pull the plug on their expeditions this year. With the delays mounting, those teams were already watching the number of days to complete the arduous trek to the North Pole dwindle rapidly. Generally speaking, arctic explorers scheduled 60 days to make the journey, but heading into the weekend, that window had already shrunk to 51 days. The continued bad weather was forcing an even tighter schedule, so they’ve all decided to abandon their expeditions and head home.
A joint press release was sent out by Pat Falvey, Clare O’ Leary, Matthew Stowers, Jules Weekes and Michele Pontrandolfo announcing the decision, which had to be an incredibly tough one. But the schedule is dictated not only by the weather but by the fact that the Russian-operated return flight from the Pole has a hard date of April 26th set in stone. If you don’t reach the Pole by then, good luck finding a way home.
Personally, I’m very disappointed in this news as well. I always enjoy following the teams as they head north, and the Arctic expeditions offer up some interesting challenges that the South Pole explorers never have to face. It simply won’t be the same without the updates from the ice this spring, although the Catlin Arctic Survey Teams are moving ahead as planned, and there are likely to be a few others out on the ice in some capacity.
As I mentioned in my previous post on the 2011 North Pole season, global climate change is making this journey an increasingly difficult one to complete. I do believe that in another decade or so, it will no longer be possible to make the trek on foot, which makes the loss of this season all the more disheartening.
Better luck next year arctic explorers.
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