ExWeb interview with Jim McNeill: No compass for the 2010 Magnetic North Pole

Posted: Feb 08, 2010 03:28 pm EST

Jim McNeill is planning to ski to the North Pole of Inaccessibility and has recently completed a boot camp with his Ice Warrior team near Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, the main island of Svalbard.

ExWebs Correne Coetzer caught up with Jim before their intensive High Arctic training kicked off for a chat about preparations.

ExplorersWeb: How do you feel about the expedition at this stage?

Jim: Always an interesting time as supplies come in are checked and freighted out again - still in conversation with sponsors training of team members looking at the possible ice conditions planning the contingencies finalizing safety plans eager to get on with it but there are never enough hours in the day!

ExplorersWeb: Who are your assistant leaders?

Jim: Antony Jinman has just joined us as a trainee leader which is great. And then we have team medic Dr. Mary Mackintosh.

ExplorersWeb: Boot camp... that sounds like serious training. What do you plan for them?

Jim: We try and cover everything that makes for a safe polar traveler.

ExplorersWeb: Where on Svalbard are you doing your boot camp?

Jim: The first 2 weeks are based in Nybyen just outside Longyearbyen which is the main town on Spitsbergen.

ExplorersWeb: What teamwork / team building have you done this far?

Jim: 10 days of technical training in Devon in the UK and numerous meetings to discuss the emotional aspects.

ExplorersWeb: What is the temperature on Svalbard?

Jim: A ridiculous 1 degree with wind driven heavy rain this has hampered our training greatly.

ExplorersWeb: How much daylight do you have?

Jim: None.

ExplorersWeb: Two weeks training and then?

Jim: Then a two week putting all together training expedition.

ExplorersWeb: How will the Magnetic North Pole affect your navigation? Can you use a compass at all when you get to the MNP?

Jim: We use GPS. You could use a compass if you had a dip compass which measures the angle between the horizon and the ground but they tend to be very expensive and difficult to get hold of so no we dont use a compass.

Jim McNeill and his Ice Warrior Arctic Pole Expedition aims to benchmark the state of the Arctic Ocean and reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility (or the Arctic Pole) for the first time.

During this 80-day expedition for trained novices ordinary people from all walks of life the team will travel from the northern coast (79° 20 N, 105° 27 W) of Canada to the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility (85° 47 N, 176° 9 E).

On route - around Day 50 - they will reach the 2010 position of the Magnetic North Pole (85° 11N, 133° 7 W).

Antony Jinman has joined as a trainee leader and the team medic is Dr. Mary Mackintosh.

The rest of the team are Simon Lewis (38), Claire Mcaleer (28), Dom Larose (31), Ali Kershaw (31), Phil Thompson (32), Ian Belcher (35), Marcus Liddiard (33), Lee Howell (39), Louise Cameron (32), Vanessa Lindsay, Mark Dunn (46) and Yolanda Nunez (35).

Click here to read more about the teammembers.

Jim McNeill has attempted to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility on two previous occasions. In 2003, he contracted a flesh-eating disease (Necrotising Fasciitis) in his left ankle and was unable to leave base camp in Resolute Bay, Canada. His second attempt in 2006 was thwarted by disintegrating sea ice, some 130 miles into the journey on Day 17.

#Polar #interview

The Ice Warrior team had a bear watch routine through the nights on Svalbard (click to enlarge)
Image by Ian Belcher and Ali Kershaw , SOURCE
Sledge-hauling through the dark days (click to enlarge)
Image by Ian Belcher and Ali Kershaw , SOURCE
Uphill and down hill (click to enlarge)
Image by Ian Belcher and Ali Kershaw , SOURCE
Strong winds on Svalbard kept the Ice Warrior team tent bounded (click to enlarge)
Image by Ian Belcher and Ali Kershaw , SOURCE
Longyearbyen, the main town on Spitsbergen, Svalbard, in eternal twilight/night (click to enlarge)
Image by Ian Belcher and Ali Kershaw , SOURCE