North Pole 2011: Update On Prince Harry


Yesterday I posted the scary story of the runway, located at the Barneo Ice Camp, had broken under the weight of a landing plane, which has caused all kinds of trouble in the Arctic. For now, there are no planes getting in or out, and the Russians are trying to find a suitable ice patch on which to build a replacement landing strip. As I noted in that update, Britain’s Prince Harry was scheduled to be picked up from the ice yesterday, but he remains with his Walking with the Wounded team as they make their way to the North Pole.

Harry is in no danger of course, but he was expected to be plucked from the ice via helicopter yesterday, and flown back to Barneo, where a jet would take him home. He had hoped to go all the way to the North Pole with his mates, but military obligations, not to mention family obligations, require him back in the U.K. That won’t be happening for at least a few days however, despite what the video update below says.

Building a new runway is going to take a bit of time, and the last we heard there was a blizzard hitting the area. That means very little work has been done in the past 24 hours, likely delaying the Prince’s departure even further. There are high hopes however that he can at least be on his way home this weekend.

The story of the runway cracking simply further underscores the challenges of traveling in the Arctic. The pack ice is getting increasingly thinner and there are more and more open leads of water these days. If things continue at the rate they seem to be going, we’ll all be able to visit the North Pole on a cruise ship soon.

Update: It seems the prince is headed home after all. According to this Reuters story, he was picked up by a helicopter and returned to Barneo late today. The article says that the cracked runway was “repaired,” but doesn’t offer much detail beyond that. Hopefully they can avoid any further incidents like the one that occurred yesterday, and the base can remain safe through the next few weeks.

Kraig Becker