A few weeks back I posted a story about the Row To The Pole Team, which was made up of six crew members who were attempting to become the first people to row to the Magnetic North Pole. At the time, they were just setting out from Resolute Bay, Canada and were taking to the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. Now, more than three weeks later, they are approaching the finish line.
The team, which is led by polar explorer Josh Wishart, has battled cold weather, high winds, and plenty of drift ice on the way to their destination. In total, they will have covered approximately 450 miles on their way to the Pole, which is located in the waters of the Arctic Ocean itself. Reading the updates from their blog, it is clear that his hasn’t been an easy trip, as weather conditions haven’t been favorable much of the time.
Officially, the team is rowing to the GPS coordinates of 78°35.7N 104°11.9W, which is actually the location of the Magnetic North Pole back in 1996. Unlike the Geographic North Pole, which is located at 90ºN, the Magnetic Pole is moving, and has continued to do so for some time. Now, 15 years after it was recorded at this location, it has now drifted further north and east. In 2005, the Pole was estimated to be located at 82.7°N 114.4°W, and is now believed to be moving towards Russia at a speed of about 35 miles per year. That means that the destination that the team is actually rowing to is nowhere near where the atual Magnetic North Pole is located. This has, as you can imagine, caused a stir amongst some in the adventure community.
So, while I congratulate the team on reaching their destination, as rowing through the Arctic Ocean is never an easy feat, I can’t help but wonder what it is they have actually accomplished. They did reach a point on the map, but that point doesn’t really hold any kind of significant relevance to any other. I salute their adventurous spirit and attitude, and I commend them for facing the elements to complete their voyage, but I’m not sure that they actually achieved what they set out to do, which is to Row To The Pole.
The video below shows what the conditions are like for them today as they approach the finish. They’ve left behind much of the ice and the winds have calmed some as well.
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