It has been a relatively quiet and non-eventful season at the North Pole. With no full distance skiers on the ice, the expeditions to the top of the world have been limited to first and second degree ski journeys to 90ºN. But, just as the season is starting to wind down, comes some disturbing and potentially dangerous news out of the Barneo Ice Camp.
According to an update posted to the Barneo Facebook page, a team of skiers on their way to the North Pole encountered a polar bear while en route. That isn’t completely uncommon, as the bears have been known to stalk explorers in the Arctic. One of the skiers was carrying a gun and felt threatened enough to shoot the bear, which is pretty unusual for these kinds of circumstances. Usually just firing into the air is enough to scare off most bears that wander too close. In this case however, the skier in question pointed the gun directly at the animal and shot it. The bear then limped off, wounded but not fatally so.
Nearly everyone knows that a wounded bear is a dangerous one, and there are now reports of others in the area seeing bear prints and blood on the snow. The animal appears to still be following teams as they make their way north, and could cause a potential safety hazard to others. To make matters worse, the guide for the group that shot the bear – Dirk Dansercoer – failed to inform the Barneo team, which could have warned North Pole skiers to be more vigilant while on their way to that destination.
At the moment, the incident is still under investigation, which is made all the more challenging since Dansercoer has already depart the Arctic for the season. Hopefully the teams that are still skiing will stay safe as they wrap up the remainder of their journey.
Encountering polar bears is one of the challenges that comes with travel in the Arctic. The creatures live and hunt in that environment, and nearly every veteran explorer of that part of the world has at least one or two tales to tell of encountering the massive animals in the wild. Guns are often carried to scare them away, but rarely are they used to actually shoot the creatures. This is a very rare case where the bear was actually shot for one reason or another.
In other news, Barneo is getting close to wapping up for the season. According to ExWeb, the team there has begun breaking camp and disassembling unused tents, packing gear, and so on. That means that the season is nearly at an end. That may be a good thing with a wounded bear in the area.