The ice looks fairly strong at this point, and if you have the money you can fly up there as a tourist and do some cross-country skiing.

NP Photo 2014 Apr 12 244809_originalNP Photo 2014 Apr 12B 244252_original

I’m a bit nervous about a fairly strong gale approaching the Pole from the Laptev Sea.

DMI Apr 12B mslp_latest.big

I’m not sure what would be more annoying to the dedicated scientists up there; a gale or the tourists.  Likely neither, but instead they find Polar Bears most annoying.  They did have a “bear alert,” as they first started setting up, whereupon everyone had to hurry to a cafeteria tent so they could make sure all were safe and accounted for.  It is no joke to work up in those conditions.  You can read more about what is going on up there at these two sites:

Hopefully all will be completed safely, and we can spend the summer watching the pictures from the North Pole Camera without fretting about the safety of the scientists.  I’m sure those who love them won’t mind if admirers (who are inclined to do so) pray for them this Sunday.


Camp Borneo Apr 14 245645_original

The storm hit last Sunday, and the wind chill was murderous, with winds steadily over 50 mph and temperatures well below minus 20 Celsius. Basically everyone did the wise thing, which was to get inside tents and stay inside.

The Russian report (translated) states:

Today was not any flights. Yesterday evening, the weather began to deteriorate and the whole Today snowstorm sweeps. Despite the fact that all the tents were fixed on the first day, at night the wind has torn corner tourist wardroom, so the whole team was alerted to further strengthen the tents (tying ropes). From today, the camp commandant introduced compulsory clock duty to look after the tents from wind damage and time to detect possible faults ice – the last day of the route with skiers reported more torosheniem and appearance of open water. 

All groups of skiers today staged a forced day’s rest due to bad weather conditions. By evening, the weather began to gradually improve. 

A “torosheniem” is a pressure ridge, which is a mini-mountain range formed as two plates of ice crush together. The “open water” referred to is a “lead”, which is formed when two plates of ice move apart.  This ice, which jets are landing on, is not all that thick.  The North Pole Camera crew states it is 1.4 meters thick, or 4 feet 7 inches.  The older ice was all pushed towards Canada and Greenland during the winter, and this is largely “baby ice,” or ice that has grown this winter. The danger, (besides meeting a 1600 pound male polar bear), is that the ice cracks and a “lead” opens up beneath your tent.  

Just how mobile the ice is can be seen in this chart of the motion of Camp Borneo, since it was set up in the midnight sun, during the “night” of March 30-31.  It is already south of 89 degrees latitude, roughly sixty miles from the Pole, in the direction of Fram Strait. (It is the dotted line.)

Camp Barneo April 14 247819_original

The lines in the upper right are various skiers and adventurers hiking to the Pole. You can see the ice is moving them away from the Pole faster than they can approach it.  Apparently they then cheat, and get lifts from Russian helicopters.  The translated Russian report states:

Groups Rick Sweitzer and Annie Aggens requested assistance. Because of the strong counter drift they can not move to the North Pole – despite advance them further and further classifies the target. Morning by helicopter, these groups were deployed to N 89 ° 57.05 ‘W and 151 ° 43.24’. Along the way, it turned out that a group of Chinese tourist Annie Aggens frostbitten fingers and had to be removed from the route. One member of the group Rick Sweitzer herself asked her to return to the base camp. Barneo Dr. Stas Boyarsky rendered first aid to the victim of Chinese tourists. 

(It may lose something in the translation.)

It sounds like a bit of an ordeal, and perhaps it is not surprising that the North Pole Camera isn’t transmitting pictures yet. I wonder if the scientists consider the tourists part of the ordeal. They don’t exactly “rough it.”  Here is a picture of their camp kitchen. The chef is cooking cutlets.

Camp Borneo cook 243551_original

Humph!  Arctic explorers sure are soft, nowadays. When I was young it was just blubber, blubber, blubber, all the livelong day.


A low pressure system passing just south of Svalbard looks like it will head up towards the Pole.  Hopefully they can get the North Pole Camera operating before it hits.

DMI Apr 17 mslp_latest.big


On April 15 the Russians reported (translation):

Among the guests was world champion in figure skating Miki Ando (Japan) with the crew – she decided to set the record at the North Pole. Needed for this skater mini-skating rink which Barneo team beginning to flood near the pole. But the film crew arrived with Miki, size “mini” seemed insufficient, and they were asked to increase the area. As a result, the children did not have enough hot water, because of its limited reserves to Borneo.Had to postpone the second part of the event the next day. As a result of the report record results tomorrow, at the same time prepare a photo report – today returned to base late at night.

Judging from the pictures, the event was held on April 16:

Camp Borneo Apr 17B 254541_originalCamp Borneo Apr 17 256326_original


Temperatures were down around minus 24 Celsius.  However fame has its price, I suppose.

Judging from the view from above, the rink was built on a frozen-over lead. This is where the ice split apart in the dark of the arctic winter, exposing open water to air as cold as minus forty.  Though the water is close to freezing, it is so much warmer than the air it steams like a hot cup of tea, until it freezes over.  Leads freeze over swiftly under such circumstances, however I think the exposure of the Arctic Sea, during windy winters, must chill the water more than it is chilled during calm winters.

We still have no public pictures from the North Pole Camera, but I noted in the American report it stated, “At Barneo, Dean Stewart put out ablation stakes in front of WebCam#1.”

They are working in the calm between two storms. The next storm will be atop the Pole by Sunday.

Apparently the tourism is coming to an end. The Russians report: “Imported flights (flights with guests) this season will be no more, and therefore began to dismantle the extra tent – located on the route two groups of skiers after removal from pole accommodates up in the remaining tents. 

Shucks.  I suppose I’ll have to put off my figure skating up there until next year.

UPDATE #4  —Teacher suffers case of cold feet during field trip to Pole?—

It is hard to grasp the entire situation through translations, but apparently the Russians bring a group of children up to the Pole, and have been doing so for several years. This year, perhaps due to the storms, the adult supervising the children, (they can’t be too young, and may be teenagers,) became anxious about shortages.  As this person was “tweeting” his concerns on his twitter account, the concerns drew attention and many became concerned.

The first hint things were not unfolding entirely smoothly occurred when the Japanese figure skater was up  there.  I noticed an odd comment in the April 15 report:  “But the film crew arrived with Miki, size “mini” seemed insufficient, and they were asked to increase the area. As a result, the children did not have enough hot water, because of its limited reserves to Borneo.”

I thought to myself, “Children? What the heck?”

On April 19 I read this:  
In the evening, the expedition leader, Borneo 2014 Alexander Orlov who is in Longyearbyen, called from Moscow AN Chilingarov He reported that the North Pole from the group Matthew Shparo that comes with 7 teenagers and Pavel Astakhov route “last degree”, I received a call that the group is in danger – in blizzard conditions they run out of fuel, and of the products was only a meal. It was very surprising, because the base Barneo expedition leader Victor Serov ezhevecherne keeps in touch with all groups on the route. From anyone today no complaints. Nevertheless, having received from the Special Representative of the President of the Arctic and Antarctic mission to evacuate from the pole in distress children, Victor Serov was ready to lift helicopters. As a result of telephone conversations with youth expedition leader Dmitry Shparo revealed that a group of children already at the North Pole, all healthy and happy, is currently busy baking Easter cakes, they have enough food, fuel for heating tents too. Also located at the next hummock group Bengt Rotmo, which also sleeps on pole ahead of tomorrow helicopter. Nothing critical happens, so Dmitry Shparo apologized for the false information that someone gave to the mainland, asked not to worry, but to wait for tomorrow PLANNED evacuation adolescents with pole. He personally fly to take a group of journalists. Thank God that the situation is resolved in such a way – like the false “heroism” in the Arctic could lead to serious consequences. 

I said to myself, “Hmm. What in the world is going on?”

On April 20 I read: Just as directed by the Special Representative of the RF President Chilingarova AN was evacuated from the North Pole youth team Matvey Shparo. Children and their accompanying adults are already delivered to Borneo.This happened in spite of the original scenario – Head Dmitry Shparo had to fly them to the North Pole with a group of journalists. Yesterday we reported that Dmitry and Matvey Shparo not see the need for emergency rescue flight. But team member Pavel Astakhov different opinion – he continues to Twitter to insist that there is no product, no fuel and therefore need urgent evacuation. Now children are based, warm and well-fed. I must say that the first six expeditions conducted by Dmitry and Matvey Shparo showed their professionalism in working with children in the Arctic, and to believe that they have not calculated the amount of food and fuel is in this expedition possible. 

And on April 21 I read: In the morning, we received information that the board FSB expedition leader Dmitry Shparo and journalists flew from Murmansk Murmansk-Nagurskoe Barneo to finally take home a group of young explorers. Due to bad weather in Nagurskaya plane was delayed from leaving for a day (or slightly more), but now everything behind – after lunch guys departed from the base Barneo to the mainland. Actually, the annual youth expedition never stops for the night in our tents, do not use our An-74. They need only runway that could make a landing plane FSB and helicopters to get to the starting point and then come back. In the same year due to inadequate behavior of the Arctic member of their team Ombudsman for Children Mr. Astakhov went awry – the mainland came from him distorted information from the route, which is why the guys had to be evacuated and place for an overnight stay in the wardroom base. But every cloud has a silver lining – now they can tell the guys from previous expeditions (just 7 seasons Shparo raised almost 50 young explorers), lives and works as a base Barneo. Since today is the last day of the camp, and the team began to dismantle the housing units, the guys had a weighty assistance in dismantling tents – extra hands on the ice does not happen! I thank them very much for your help! 

Obviously there is a good story here.  As a childcare provider, I occasionally run into situations where parents are extremely anxious about children being outside in cold weather. I can only imagine what you run into when you take them to the North Pole.

In any case, they are closing down the base, and leaving us with a sense the ice is not weak up there.  After all, they land jets on it. However that ice is tortured and smashed by strong winds and storms, and there are cracks constantly opening in the ice. Therefore I’ll close this thread with the view from an airplane of a big lead, as it starts to form a new skim of ice despite the fact the sun has risen at the Pole, and also a picture from one of the daring adventurers who are now gallivanting about up there, as they leap over a much smaller lead.

AAA Polar picture of lead Apr 21 268925_originalAAA Polar Picture2 unnamed

(Click these pictures to enlarge them)




  1. Re the bears … when working up north the standing joke was that well you can’t out run a bear you really only need to out run the other geologists 😉

    Looks nicer at the pole than in Calgary where winter once again is pounding us with more snow and cold, although at -4 C the cold is nothing after the deep freeze we suffered through from Halloween on!

    • We just experienced a forty degree drop in temperatures here, from 66 F yesterday morning to 26 F this morning, along with an inch of crust that you can’t really call snow.

      However the sun is up and beaming at us from where it is in August, so the world will not stay white for long.

      Enjoy the summer. I’m afraid it is going to be a short one.

  2. Pingback: ARCTIC SEA-ICE DRAMA —THE CRASHING AMO— | Sunrise's Swansong

  3. Pingback: North Pole Camping at Barneo. Only $28,995. | Sunrise's Swansong

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