[The North Pole is] a point that does not easily gives itself up, the drift makes for a fierce adversary: one moment right, the next left, you think you are about to have it and then, no: youre headed the wrong way! I walked in circles with my GPS for ten minutes until it read N89.59.996; then 997; then 998 999 Finally, my unit read: North Pole N90.00.000! Live image of 90°N over Contact 4.0 courtesy of PolarExplorers/ humanedgetech.com/expedition/pe2 (click to enlarge)
While the Pole is geographically a static point at the bottom of the ocean, up here, on a sea ice constantly drifting, nothing is. In fact sometimes, as happened to me then, the dream feels more real. And as the ice shifts, unmoved by the human desire to pierce its crust with a marquee post, what is left is the image that we chose to retain. And to me, it will be that open field staring me in the eye, as if to say: Im leaving too. Soon. Live image of Keith and Sebastian at the NP over Contact ..
Ice Station Barneos equipment loaded on the An-74 at the end of the 2009 North Pole season. Live image courtesy of barneo.ru (click to enlarge)
Arctic wrap-up: Charles Hedrichs NP to SP route plan; and Sebastian and Keiths last NP day

Posted: May 04, 2009 05:51 pm EDT
(ThePoles.com) Arnaud Tortel and Charles Hedrich keep skiing towards Greenland and a new route plan for Charles North Pole to South Pole journey is published.

Sebastian Copeland wrote a report on their website about his and Keith Hegers arrival at the North Pole. The end came abruptly; systematic and unapologetic, he said.

Non-land start: Supported, Assisted (90°N)

Keith Heger (USA) and Sebastian Copeland (UK/France/USA); last 400 miles

For a while I stared in silence at the field in front of me, wrote Sebastian, taking in the open, unrestricted ice kingdom; committing to memory its vastness and the contours of the mounds and ridges framing it; noting the way the sun defined the terrain; feeling the wind biting my left side; and for once relishing the chill that sneaked past the steam out of my base layer.

I heard my heart pounding, fresh from the effort, tugging at me with undecided trepidation, not sure whether to weep in relief or beg for more. Any moment now, this solemn and suspended reality would be broken by the distant flapping of the helicopters rotors. And the dream would end.

He described the conditions on the last day. The day was sunny with a ten knot breeze out of the north west; it would hit us in the face from the left.

But the terrain was well defined, and the flat pan we had ended on yesterday stretched in front of us for another long haul. That pan was unreal: it must have gone for over fifteen miles!

With nothing but open space in front of me, I motored and skied hard. My legs got sucked into the rhythm, and never complained. Nor did Keith, though I knew his hip bothered him. But the day was set to put a mark on our vanishing legacy.

They had to phone Victor Boyarsky at Barneo base camp at 8.30 am on 26 April Longyearbyen time. Sebastian mentioned, this close to the pole, you can basically chose the time zone you wish to align yourself withit makes no difference. By the time of the phone call they had skied 17 nautical miles.

As if to teach us one more time the meaning of the word respect, Sebastian added, the pack ice threw a field of junky, powdery blocks at us, and the clouds overtook the sun to flatten out detail in the terrain.

I was anxiously pushing forward, intent in reaching our farthest north. Then it all cleared: the sky, the wind, the rubble. Ahead laid a flat pan framed by pressure ridges on either side. I raced to it; and stopped. It would make for a good landing area, and was open enough to clear our minds.

As Keith and I stood there in the silence that had come to characterized our solitary travel, I knew that this image would define my experience up here. And I relished it. The North Pole is so ephemeral; so fleeting that it feels like an illusion.

The Mi-8 helicopter from Barneo picked them up and dropped them a quarter of a mile from the North Pole. Symbolically, we pulled our sledges off the craft, got into our harnesses and skis, and marched to it, reported Sebastian.

A point that does not easily gives itself up, the drift makes for a fierce adversary: one moment right, the next left, you think you are about to have it and then, no: youre headed the wrong way!

I walked in circles with my GPS for ten minutes until it read N89.59.996; then 997; then 998 999 Finally, my unit read: North Pole N90.00.000!

North Pole (90°N) to Greenland

Arnaud Tortel (guide) and Charles Hedrich (France)

Arnaud and Charles are continuing to Greenland and reported skiing 12 km per day in 6-7 hours travelling. They saw polar bear tracks.

Charles website published the following new information about his expedition route plan and timing from the North Pole to the South Pole:

NORTH POLE - coast of Greenland, then crossing: pulka - kayak and kite ski, till mid-June
Greenland - Denmark: sailboat, 15 days till late June.

Denmark - the Alps (through Germany, Benelux, Switzerland and Italy): bicycle, till July 10th.

The Alps: crossing the Alps on skis, with some descents like the Mont Blanc north face, paragliding.

The Alps - Gibraltar (through France and Spain): mountain biking, on horseback, by donkey, hiking, till August 20th.

Gibraltar - Tangier: swimming, rowing or kite surf (depending on the weather) 48 hours.

Tangier - Dakar: sand yachting, on camels, running, and mountain bike, till September 10th.

Dakar Recife (Brazil): sailboat, till September 25th.
Recife Ushuaia: sailboat, till October 20th.

Ushuaia Coast of the Antarctic (Marguerite Bay): sailboat, two weeks till early November
Marguerite Bay SOUTH POLE: kiteski, 1,5 month till mid-January

South Pole Coast of the Antarctic (Bay of Whales): kite ski, 1 month till mid February
Coast of the Antarctic (Bay of Whales) New Zealand: sailboat, till March 10th.

Links to Arctic 2009 expeditions

Unsupported, Unassisted Geographic North Pole
John Huston and Tyler Fish (USA) - Victorinox North Pole '09 Expedition

Unsupported, Assisted Geographic North Pole
Lonnie Dupre (USA), Max Chaya (Lebanon) and Stuart Smith (USA) Peary-Henson Centennial North Pole Expedition 2009
Max Chayas blog
Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley (UK) Catlin Arctic Survey Expedition

Unsupported/Unassisted Magnetic North Pole (1996 position)
Michele Pontrandolfo (Italy)

Non-land start, Supported, Assisted Geographic North Pole
Keith Heger (USA) and Sebastian Copeland (France/USA) Peary-Henson Centennial North Pole Expedition 2009; last 400 miles

North Pole (90°N) to Greenland
Charles Hedrichs website
Arnaud Tortel (guide) and Charles Hedrich (France); Blog in French

Barneo Ice Station

Last Degree North Pole
Stefan Nestler (Germany) with guide Thomas Ulrich (Switserland) and team
Eric Philips (Australia, guide) and Michael Archer (New Zealand)
Kevin Dempsey (Ireland) with guide, Jason De Carteret (UK) and team
Lance Ranger with guide, Jason De Carteret (UK) and team
Northwest Passage / Polar Explorers
Northwest Passage / Polar Explorers dogsled expedition
Borge Ousland and team
Doug Stoup and team
Christina Franco (Italy/UK)
Meagan McGrath (Canada)
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