North Pole 2012: Tough Sledding for Norwegians

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It has been a challenging week for the Norwegian team of Mads Agerup and Rune Midtgaard, who are currently skiing to the North Pole from the Canadian side. The two men were dropped off on Cape Discovery on Sunday and while their initial reaction was that conditions were better than they expected, the soon found that the Arctic was not as hospitable as they first thought.

The second day of their expedition delivered the ice conditions that the two speed-skiers were anticipating, including large rubble fields and open leads. That meant that they were forced to do a lot of climbing and scrambling over and around huge blocks of ice. Despite the deteriorating conditions however, Rune and Mads managed to cover a very solid 14km (8.6 miles) which is outstanding at this stage of the expedition.

Yesterday the boys elected to take a rest day however as they have found that they are still acclimatizing to the environment and the cold weather hasn’t been kind to their lungs. When physically working hard in -40ºC/F weather it is very easy to do damage to the respiratory system, which is the last thing you want to do when making a trip to the North Pole. So, they decided to take it easy and let their bodies adjust before proceeding. Their home team reports that spirits are high and the equipment is performing well, so they should be back on track today.

Meanwhile, the three Frenchmen who will be spending six weeks at the North Pole are still preparing to get underway this week. According to their Facebook page, they should have begun their journey today and will presumably arrive at the Pole sometime in the next few days. They’ll be conducting a host of experiments and taking a number of readings on conditions at the Pole which will help us to understand the Arctic more fully and learn about the ways that is it changing.

Finally, we’re still waiting to hear of Mark Wood will be proceeding with his expedition as expected. He plans to start at 90ºN and ski southward, and while has secured funding for the trip, the last we heard he was still looking for someone to help cover the costs of a retrieval from the ice once he has finished the journey. Mark says he’ll make a statement about his plans in the next few days, so for now we’ll just have to be patient.

Kraig Becker