North Pole 2012: Slow Progress in Bone-chilling Temperatures

We finally received an update from the Irish squad of Clair O’Leary and Mike O’Shea this morning. The duo are making slow progress in their expedition to the North Pole but report that things may be starting to get a bit easier. They’re still covering fairly short distances, yesterday just 4.3 miles, although considering their position, that isn’t completely unexpected.

Right now they report that the temperatures have been hovering around -47ºC/-52ºF and those readings don’t account for the windchill. Strong winds have been hitting the region and Mike and Clair are preparing for another storm to roll in today. Those winds are not aiding their cause much, as they lost nearly a mile to negative drift over night last night.

They also report that the entire area looks like it has been hit with an earthquake. When the large slabs of ice run into one another, they buckle and break, creating giant rubble fields that are extremely difficult to cross. Throw in the fact that they’ve also been encountering a lot of open leads, and you start to understand why it is so tough going in the early stages of the expedition.

Also of note is the fact that they are nearly constantly surrounded by the sounds of ice cracking, which can take some time to get use to and is rather unnerving. They even hear it while they are attempting to sleep in their tents at night and those unsettling noises can prevent them from getting the rest they need.

Fortunately, many of these issues will begin to fade away as they get further north. The ice field will solidify more and they won’t encounter nearly as much rubble or open patches of water. They have a long ways to go until they get to that point, but it is something for them to look forward to.

Hopefully the predicted blizzard that is expected across Cape Discovery won’t have too big of an impact on their travels and they’ll be able to continue to make progress throughout the weekend.

Kraig Becker