ExplorersWeb 2009 Year in Review: Polar adventures

Posted: Dec 16, 2009 01:56 am EST

In previous years, ExplorersWeb have published one big Year in Review on January 1st.

This year we are cutting it up in sections, to be posted every day until the awards, with the compiled report to go up early 2010.

Today part 2; the ice!


We got several new speed records at the South Pole last season:

- Fastest time from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole (1130 km) is currently 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes (Canadian Richard Weber leading Kevin Vallely and Ray Zahab).
- Solo from Hercules: 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes (American Todd Carmichael).
- From the Messner point (890 km): 24 days 8 hours and 50 min (Norwegians Christian Eide, Rune Midgaard, Mads Agrup and Morten Andvig - averaging a very fast 36.87 km per day).

Shackleton descendants Henry Adams, Henry Worsley and Will Gow arrived at the South Pole from Ross Island holding the original Shackleton compass. Cancer survivor Thomas Davenport skied to the South Pole and back to Patriot Hills with parts of his colon removed.

The Huber Brothers, teaming up with Stefan Siegrist, bagged two new routes at Antarcticas Queen Maud Land.

Cristian Donoso Antarctic kayak team did a 550 miles/885 km self-supported expedition, visiting the Palmer Archipelago and the Danco Coast, both among the places with highest wildlife density on Antarctica. Olly Hicks aborted his Antarctic circumnavigation row.

North Pole

This year, the North Pole offered extremely cold temperatures (-50 in the evening). British Christina Franco aborted her attempt after only two days; two weeks later; British Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley were featured in mainstream media as "global warming researchers" suffering frostbite and starving due to a delayed resupply.

Late April and a century after Cook and Peary; John Huston and Tyler Fish became the first American team to reach the North Pole without assistance. John reached his second pole after the South Pole in January 2008.

Both full length teams, the other supported and led by polar veteran Lonnie Dupree reached the Pole only the day before Barneo sent out their pick up helicopter.

Dupree's team members Max Chaya and Stuart Smith accomplished the Three Poles with Max further becoming the first Lebanese to ski to the NP.

French skiers Arnaud Tortel and Charles Hedrich arrived at Cape Morris Jesup at 03h00 GMT on 6 June, 62 days after they left the North Pole for Greenland; unsupported and unassisted. In 2007 Belgians Dixie Dansercoer and Alain Hubert started from near the Siberian coast and skied past the Geographic North Pole to Cape Morris Jesup, spending a total of 106 days on the ice. Both teams now hold their own, separate records.

After a false start, solo Italian Michele Pontrandolfo reached the 1996 position of the Magnetic NP.

Polar science and other news

A Basler BT-67 of SA based ALCI crash-landed on the Antarctica January 5. One month later M/V Ocean Nova cruise ship grounded approximately two kilometers from the Argentine research station San Martin.

AGAP's mission to uncover secrets of the enigmatic Gamburtsev subglacial mountains was accomplished, with the first glimpse of a landscape buried under up to 4km (2.5 miles) of ice, discovered on Antarctica by Russian scientists 50 years ago.

Russian scientist Yuri Yevdokimov observed an ice ridge about 10 m thick at a depth of 10 m when diving near the edge of Barneos floe on the Arctic ice. An average ice floe in the area is reportedly no thicker than 2 meters.

Vicaar sent their seasons end Barneo report to ExWeb with some unreal pictures of Russian motorists for the first time in history reaching the North Pole [90°N] from Cape Arktichesky in two custom cars equipped with low pressure tires; and special guests bringing the sacred fire from Jerusalem to the icy tent camp.

Greenland at a glance

Devon McDiarmid, Derek Crowe and Adrian Hayes arrived at the head of MacCormick Fjord near to Qaanaaq (Thule) on 25 July, after 67 days of kite-skiing across Greenland.

Norwegians Hugo Rolf Hansen and Bjørn Einar Bjartnes kited 505.90 km between camps in less than 24 hours.

Raoul Surcouf and Richard Spink (UK), planned a carbon neutral expedition across Greenland and set sail across the ocean in a sailboat from Plymouth to Nuuk. Eleven days out on sea they were caught in a storm and after temporarily capsizing three times they had to call for a rescue.

Thules ballistic missile early warning radar has been beefed up. Powerful enough to spot a softball-sized object 3,000 nautical miles away, or from New York to Los Angeles comparably, the previous large desktop monitor with monochrome screen has been swapped for flat screen computers, color, computer mice and increased computer memory and computing speed to a new missile warning operations center where operators work 24/7.
#Polar #Review #feature

From left, ALE Chef Ronny Finsås, and the Norwegian ski team, Rune Midtgaard, Christian Eide (leader), Morten Andvig and Mads Agerup at Patriot Hills. Written in the snow: Happy New Year! ThePoles.com. Live image over CONTACT 4.0 courtesy of expedition Eide (click to enlarge).
Canadians Ray Zahab, Richard Weber and Kevin Vallely at the Ceremonial South Pole. Live image over CONTACT 4.0 courtesy of southpolequest.com (click to enlarge)
American Todd Carmichael at the Geographic South Pole. Live image over CONTACT 4.0 courtesy of subzerosolo.com (click to enlarge)
VICAAR (2009 Arctic season): A team of Russian motorists on two specially designed cars, equipped with low pressure tires, for the first time in history could reach the North Pole [90°N] from Cape Arktichesky.
courtesy yemelya.ru, SOURCE
In the photo the compass, note Shackleton's initials ("EHS") scratched into the lid of the compass, noted the Shackleton Centenary home team. Image courtesy of shackletoncentenary.org.
Cancer survivor Tom Davenport and Sarah McNair-Landry at Patriot Hills after skiing from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and kiting back to PH. Image FromEnd2End.net.
Stephan Siegrist working a delicate pitch at Antarctica. Image courtesy of Stephan's website.
Cristian Donoso and Claudio Scaletta kayaking Antarctic Peninsula. Image antarctickayak.com.
Early April sun never felt so good, said John Huston and Tyler Fish. Image fowardexpeditions.com.
Lonnie Dupre, Stuart Smith and Max Chaya swimming across a lead and using their sleds as a catamaran. Image courtesy of PolarExplorers.
Arnaud Tortel and Charles Henrich arrived at the coast of Greenland after 62 days of skiing and kayaking unsupported, unassisted from the Geographic North Pole. Image courtesy of polenordpolesud.
Michele Pontrandolfo on his way to the Magnetic North Pole. Image courtesy of Pontrandolfo.
The hidden Gumburtsev Mountains were discovered by the 3rd Soviet Antarctic Expedition in 1958 and named after Soviet seismologist Grigory Gamburtsev. Map courtesy of Russia-InfoCentre/ Russia-ic.com.
Among other exciting events [at Barneo] we should mention a celebration of Russian Easter, with guests, bringing the sacred fire from Jerusalem. Image courtesy of barneo.ru.
Adrian Hayes (left), Devon McDiarmid (right) and Derek Crowe (middle) at the exact point of the Arctic Circle. Image EmiratesNBD/ greenlandquest.com.
Norwegians Hugo Rolf Hansen and Bjørn Einar Bjartnes logged a distance of 518 km on their GPS trip odometer. Image courtesy of kitegreenland2009.com.
Thules ballistic missile early warning radar, powerful enough to spot a softball-sized object 3,000 nautical miles away, or from New York to Los Angeles comparably. Image courtesy of Thule Air Base.

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