North Pole 2012: Irish Team Headed Home

The North Pole71

The 2012 North Pole season has been an incredibly trying one to say the least. Two teams were able to take advantage of a narrow weather window and get started on their expeditions, but that window soon slammed shut and Cape Discovery has been hit with successive blizzards ever since. Today we have word that one of those teams is calling it quits while the other is struggling with damaged equipment.

ExWeb is reporting that the Irish team of Clare O’Leary and Mike O’Shea have decided to abort their attempt to travel to the North Pole due to the expense that they would incur to cover the costs of their resupply along the way. Apparently the duo had hoped to share the costs for the planes with other teams, but since there are so few of them at the moment, those expenses were going to rise to the point that it didn’t make sense for them to continue.

Clare and Mike have already turned around and are headed south, back to Cape Discovery, where they hope to be picked up by plane on Thursday or Friday of this week. As you can imagine, they are a bit dejected by the change in plan but they also don’t want to bankrupt themselves in their attempt to reach the Pole.

The only other explorer out on the ice right now is Japanese solo-skier Yasunaga Ogita. Yas spent the weekend trying to avoid the storm as much as possible, but apparently he still suffered damage to some of his equipment. It isn’t clear which pieces of gear were damaged and hopefully it isn’t something that is critical to his expedition. As ExWeb points out, Yas is going to the North Pole without resupply which means the logistical costs that Clare and Mike faced won’t have an impact on his journey.

Finally, ExWeb is also reporting that work on the Barneo ice station has begun for 2012 as well and the base is on track to open on April 2nd. For those who aren’t familiar with Barneo, it is a temporary base that is constructed on the Russian side of the North Pole at approximately 89ºN. The base serves as a launching point for “last degree” journeys to the Pole and is used to retrieve skiers headed there as well. For 3-4 weeks each year it is a hub of activity for arctic expeditions that don’t launch out of Canada.

Kraig Becker