Italian adventurer, Michele Pontrandolfo (click to enlarge)
Arctic ice formations (click to enlarge)
Endless ice (click to enlarge)
Tent with polar bear fence (click to enlarge)
Inuit girl in Resolute Bay wishing Michele good luck. All images courtesy of Michele Pontrandolfo (click to enlarge)
Michele Pontrandolfo on his way to the Magnetic North Pole. Image courtesy of Pontrandolfo.
Debrief: Michele Pontrandolfos Magnetic North Pole ski

Posted: May 28, 2009 12:53 pm EDT
(ThePoles.com) Never could I imagine that this was only the beginning of a series of problems, said Michele about the many challenges he encountered on his ski expedition to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole.

The beginning

Michele arrived in Resolute Bay on 25 March. After 20 days of training and acclimatization he set off with his 110 kg sled and food and fuel for 40 days.

The first day at six oclock he stopped for the night and put up his tent and polar bear fence. Inside his tent he opened his bag of freeze-dried food and a bad smell came out of it. Michele went out to get a new food bag from his sled. Back in the tent a nasty surprise waited for him his mattress was on fire.

He quickly put out the flames, but the mattress was badly damaged. He realized he couldnt continue without this mattress and traveled the 10 km back to Resolute Bay.

Michele said, Never could I imagine that this was only the beginning of a series of problems some of which were very serious.

More problems

After sitting out a storm for two days in Resolute, Michele returned to his campsite where everything was still in order.

He skied further, but his equipment and body started to give problems. His stove pump broke. The GPS failed to pick up the satellites. His body started to give serious problem.

His physical condition deteriorated and he considered aborting his expedition. After consulting with his manager and a doctor he decided to get medical help.

Michele was picked up by skidoo and taken back to Resolute Bay. After nine days treatment and fixing his equipment he was taken back to the point where he was evacuated.

High wind

To make up lost time he aimed to pull his sled for 14 hours per day.

On the track Michele saw many polar bear tracks on the sea ice, fortunately only once a bear.

Michele said during the expedition he experienced very high winds, predicted up to 110 km/h and the worst he had ever been in. He had to secure his tent with a snow wall and was nearly blown off his feet.

Broken ski

Then another major equipment break with 200 km left to the Magnetic North Pole; his right ski broke and the snow was soft and deep.

He phoned his sister to get moral support. His mood changed and with his goal in mind he set his alarm to get up at four oclock in the morning to gain miles. Sometimes limping on his broken ski Michele said he felt inner strength, which made him go on like a locomotive.

He covered 30-37 km in the days that followed. With his full focus on the Magnetic North Pole his enthusiasm grew by the day he said.

Protection

Michele said he often prayed during the day and partly thanks to this, overcome many difficulties and then I have my true companion.

He also said that the 8th Alpini Regiment, Brigade Julia, was in the spirit with him and I also believe that there were many soldiers with me to protect my life and my camp at night.

Seals

Michele said when he arrived at Isarksen Island he was through the roof. The small island separated him and the MNP by 46 km.

He described some of the most beautiful moments. Seals popped out of their holes to breathe, others were sun bathing on top of the ice and one was diving into his hole in the dark ocean.

Land to sea

When crossing from sea ice to land ice the ice was very unstable said Michele. He had to be careful not to fall in. He skied past mountains in valleys. When he got closer to his destination he got very emotional he said.

The GPS was fastened in front of him, showing the direction and counting down the miles. At 13h52 Canadian time, 30 April, Michele reached the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole.

Italian adventurer Michele Pontrandolfo was born in 1971 in Pordenone. At the age of 12 he started mountain climbing and developed a passion for the alpine ice. Since 1998 he has organised 9 expeditions on the polar ice fields, six of them successful and most of them solo: a Greenland crossing (first expedition, which gave him the love for the polar ice), Iceland twice, Svalbard and other North Pole expeditions, one to the Geomagnetic North Pole.

In the Southern Hemisphere Spring of 2008 Michele attempted a solo crossing of the Southern Patagonian Icecap. After 21 Days and 210 km he had to abandon the expedition because of an ankle injury.

In the Spring of 2009 he skied from Resolute Bay to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole, 78┬░ 35'42.00"N, 104┬░ 11'54.00"W. During the expedition he was evacuated to get medical treatment, but continued from where he stopped and reached the MNP on 30 April 2009.

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