While our attention has been firmly locked on the Antarctic over the past month or so, at the other end of the planet one team is already venturing north, above the Arctic Circle. These explorers have set their eyes on the North Pole, but not for this year. Instead they are busy setting out supplies for an epic expedition to take place next year.
Beginning in late 2013, veteran explorers Alex Hibbert and Justin Miles will embark on an expedition to the North Pole in the dead of winter and along a new route. The two men plan to cross the frozen Arctic Ocean, reaching the Pole from Greenland, something that has never been done before. And once they reach 90ºN, they intend to make a return trip back to where they started, covering 1900 miles (3057 km) in the process. They call their expedition the Dark Ice Project, as they’ll be traveling in nearly complete darkness for most of the way.
The boys are currently in Qaanaaq, Greenland where they are getting ready to start the first phase of the project. They plan to set out on Friday on a three month long journey that will take them into the arctic, where they will stash several supply depots for the full expedition next year. They’ll also use this time to assess their gear and test the pace of their travel, two very important factors for their success in the full journey in 2013-2014. This first phase will end in March and cover approximately 900 miles (1448 km). If all goes according to plan, they’ll have cached 160 days worth of food in a depot located in the Nares Strait.
Both phases of the Dark Ice Project are incredibly ambitious and demanding. Traveling through the Arctic in the winter, where temperatures routinely drop to -50ºF/-45ºC and the sun never shines, will take its toll on Alex and Justin. It should be interesting to see how they fare in this test phase before taking on the full expedition next year.
Get updates from Alex on his Twitter feed to follow along in the days ahead. Good luck guys!
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