Arctic wrap-up: The Polar Pumpkin flying again; Greenland season starts; Barneo in business

Posted: Apr 05, 2012 04:12 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer) The orange Cessna, Polar Pumpkin, with owner and pilot Art Mortvedt, is heading towards the Geographic North Pole again.

Barneo’s ice runway is open and two flights were in already; a technical flight and a client flight.

During the previous two Arctic ski seasons Italian Michele Pontrandolfo attempted to ski from Canada to the North Pole, saying to himself, perhaps only the devil goes there. This season he is back on stable ice for a Greenland crossing from the south to Qaanaaq in the north-west with team mate Marco Martinuzz.

Barneo Ice Station

Barneo’s ice runway is completed. Departing from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the Antonov-74 had its first technical flight to Barneo yesterday and also flew in scientists. Today the first group of last degree skiers was picked up in LYB.

The floating Ice Station’s co-ordinates on April 4 were N89° 42' and E95° 44’; temperature was -23°C, wind 2-3 m/s, and visibility 7000 m.

April 5: Position N89° 44', E50° 06', drift from the pole -28 km; temperature -24°C, wind 2-3 m/s, visibility is excellent.


Michele Pontrandolfo reported to ExWeb that he and Marco Martinuzz landed in Narsarsuaq on April 3. “It has been a great emotion seeing the ice-cup from the plane again,” says Pontrandolfo who has crossed the Icecap before on a horizontal route.

“It looks like a dive in the past; in fact my very first 2000 project was to cross Greenland from south to north, but back then I did not feel ready for such a big challenge. Now I realized I have enough experience to give it a try.”

He explained about this year’s expedition, “The expedition will be made in the classical unsupported way. We will use wind power whenever possible because of the long distance. The kites will only be used on good ground conditions and when the weather allows it as we are beginner kite-skiers.”

Michele says his team mate Marco is a multi-sport athlete and is attempting his first polar expedition with this Greenland challenge. “He has lots of experience in crossing sand deserts and has been climbing mountains for many years. I feel confident to share this challenge with him.”

Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados and his bike will be leaving for Greenland in two weeks.

Polar flight

The little orange Cessna 185 N90SN, named Polar Pumpkin is well known to past South Pole skiers and Vinson climbers. It has set off for another attempt to fly to the North Pole.

Alaskan Bush pilot Art Mortvedt is again attempting the solo flight to 90°N with the aim to land the same plane on the South Pole and North Pole. South Pole was done November 22, 1999. Art has 5000 hours flight experience, 20+ expeditions to Antarctica and 6 seasons of science logistics in the Arctic.

On April 3 Mortvedt and the Polar Pumpkin took off from Fairbanks, Alaska to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada. He is currently waiting in Inuvik for weather to clear to the east; “in the vicinities of Paulatuk, Kugluktuk, and Cambridge Bay [are] low ceilings, snow, blowing snow, and poor visibilities.”



Michele Pontrandolfo and Marco Martinuzz - Italy (vertical crossing, kites)

Art Mortvedt and Polar Pumpkin

Weather links courtesy of Canadian Ice Service:
The Arctic Weather products link on the Canadian Ice Service IPY Legacy page

Two-day sea ice drifts for the whole Arctic Ocean on the Danish DMI website

ENVISAT ASAR images on the Polarview website

Other weather links:
Canadian Ice Service

Canada Weather Office satellite image

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

University of Illinois cryosphere images

Wayne Davidson’s Extremely High Horizon Refraction

Other links
Polar Adventure Rules and Definitions
Polar Statistics


Russian staff members responsible for the building of the ice runway at Barneo dropped out of the Ilyushin-76 from Murmansk at a suitable runway location near the North Pole.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Runway workers on the ground.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Two tractors and fuel were also dropped from the IL-76.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
The tractor puffing while working the snow away.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Barneo tent camp yesterday.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Unloading the Antanov from Longyearbyen.
courtesy Barneo Ice Station, SOURCE
Italians Michele Pontrandolfo and Marco Martinuzz preparing for Greenland.
courtesy Michele Pontrandolfo and Marco Martinuzz, SOURCE
Art Mortvedt upgrading the Cessna with modern technology.
courtesy Art Mortvedt, SOURCE

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