There may be only one team scheduled for the full journey to the North Pole on skis this year but a host of others are now gearing up to hit the ice. The Barneo Ice Station is still on track to open in the next few days and a number of explorers and skiers will start their expeditions from the Russian side of the Arctic. Many of those will be doing one or two degree journeys to the Pole, but others will simply be conducting research and studying the region.
One of those setting out early next week is Mark Wood who is currently in Norway and waiting for a lift out to the ice. He’ll start his approach to the Pole at about 88ºN and hopes to finish up in just a few weeks time. The journey will cap his North-South Expedition which began with a successful solo-ski to the South Pole in January. When he’s done in the Arctic, Mark will continue sharing his message of environmental protection through public speaking and interaction with classrooms.
According to their Facebook page, the three-man French team that will be conducting research at the North Pole this spring should be getting ready to depart soon as well. They’ve spent the last few days preparing gear and doing last minute prep work and yesterday that posted an update saying that a weather window has now opened for travel. Presumably that means they’ll also be airlifted to Barneo first and then take a helicopter to the North Pole. Their original plan was to stay at 90ºN for six weeks but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
The team of Six Ordinary Men will also be starting their North Pole expedition soon as well. They appear to be doing a last degree journey to raise funds for the Sparks Charity. The group has been silent for the most part so far, although they do promise to start blogging on March 31st. The countdown clock on their website currently lists their time of departure as a day and a half away.
Finally, an update on the Norwegians who are taking the long and difficult route to the Pole. After picking up speed in the early part of the week, they’ve now started to run into some challenges. Just a few days ago they were routinely hitting 20-25km (12-15 miles) traveled each day, which is actually a great pace at this stage of the expedition. But the past few days as brought them upon some large open leads that have slowed them down. They began the day today with an open water crossing and their home teams reports that had they decided to go around it would have taken them 100-150km (62-93 miles) out of their way. Worse yet, they anticipate hitting another lead later today or tomorrow as well.
The news isn’t good for Mads Agerup either. Apparently he has picked-up some frostbite in his thumbs which isn’t looking particularly good at the moment. The rest of his hands and fingers are fine, but they’ll definitely be keeping an eye on his damaged digits in the days ahead.
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