North Pole - April 2009
The North Pole is the northernmost point in the world with its only inhabitants being Polar bears and seals (and Santa of course!). It is also known as True North and is located at 90 degrees North latitude, with all lines of longitude converging at the pole.
The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amidst waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice.
From 21st March, the North Pole experiences continuous daylight, with the sun never setting, only ever skimming the horizon before rising higher in the sky.
The coldest temperature measured in the Arctic is -68C, though I will likely encounter typical temperatures of -50C to -30C at the start of the trip, rising to -10C to +5C as the pole is reached.
As well as frostnip, frostbite, hypothermia and snowblindness, I will face the risk of attacks from Polar Bears and of falling through thin ice, and the challenges of navigating open leads (large tracts of open water) and pressure induced ice rubble fields.
I will depart from London on 8th April, flying to Longyearbyen in North Norway where final preparations and acclimatisation will take place. On the 13th April, I along with my 3 team-mates will fly to Camp Barneo, a temporary camp set up on the drifting ice in the Arctic Ocean at an approximate latitude of 89o North.
From Camp Barneo we will immediately commence our ski to the North Pole, scheduled to reach the Pole on 21st April.
A Typical Day in the Arctic
Camp Barneo is approximately 65 miles from the North Pole, suggesting an average 6-8 miles skiing a day. However, in reality this will be more like 10-15 miles a day once the ice drift (typically 1-4km every 12 hours in any direction) and the circumnavigation of leads (tracts of open water) and ice rubble fields have been taken into account. Once the challenges of climbing through the less severe ice rubble fields have been factored in, we anticipate skiing and walking between 8-16 hours a day, all of which will involve towing a 50 kg (110 lb) sled.
The day doesn't end with the skiing, with camp duties including the erection of the tent; the boiling of water (for both food and drink requirements); clothing and equipment repairs; and communication required before nestling into a sleeping bag for a night of freezing.
The cycle recommences at 7am the next morning, with a couple of hours required to boil enough water for breakfast and the day's drinking supplies, and to take down the tent.
The daily exertions will burn between 8,000 - 10,000 calories, which compares with a typical daily calorific intake of 2,000 - 2,500 for a man and a maximum absorbable intake of approximately 6,000 calories. Hence, throughout the day, we will be grazing constantly on our day bags of cheese, sweets, dried meat and nuts. Regardless of how much I eat, I am guaranteed to arrive at the North Pole significantly lighter than when I leave London.
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