North Pole 2012: The Journey Begins

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It has been a cold and difficult beginning for the first skiers out on the ice for the start of the 2012 North Polar season. As noted last week, the first two teams set out on Friday, flying from Canada’s Resolute Bay to Cape Discovery, the starting point for most expeditions from the Canadian side of the globe. After being dropped off, both the Irish team of Clair O’Leary and Mike O’Shea and Japanese solo-skier Yasunaga Ogita started their separate journeys north.

According to Clair and Mike’s blog it has been tough going so far. The snow is deeper than they had expected, which has in turn led to slow progress over their first few days. On Saturday they managed to cover just 2.33 nautical miles and yesterday wasn’t much better. To make matters worse, they are also experiencing temperatures below -50ºC/-58ºF and this early in the season there is little to no sun to help them at least feel a little better.

These temperatures and distances are typical for the start of the season. It always seems that the first few weeks are painfully slow for the explorers who are battling bad weather, unstable ice, and deep snow as they first get underway. The journey to the North Pole is not an easy one, but they’ll soon find a rhythm and start making better progress.

Meanwhile, ExWeb reports that Ogita is experiencing the same conditions, although he has the added burden of going it alone. After being dropped off on Friday, Yasu managed to cover 3.6km (1.9 nautical miles) before he decided to set-up camp for the night. No word on his progress since, but at this stage of the expedition we have to assume that he is covering similar distances at the Irish team on a daily basis.

Look for more teams to join them out on the ice this week. Flights to Cape Discovery will be dependent on the weather but there are other teams who are preparing to start soon.

Kraig Becker