Two skiers heading south from the North Pole

Posted: Apr 23, 2012 07:24 pm EDT

(Correne Coetzer, updated Apr 23, 2012 04:55 pm EDT) Word has arrived at ExplorersWeb about two skiers on the Arctic ice making their way from the Geographic North Pole (90°N) to Svalbard, unassisted and unsupported.

Norwegian Audun Tholfsen and Estonian Timo Palo have reportedly started their ski/kayak expedition from the Pole. On April 22 they flew with the Antanov to Barneo Ice Camp to board the helicopter to the North Pole. Update Apr 23, 2012 04:55 pm EDT: Katre Palo from the home team reported to ExplorersWeb that Timo and Audun started their two month expedition on April 23.

The two guys are armed with skis and custom modified kayaks as well as a shotgun and a revolver. According to their website they have send a food resupply ahead to northern Svalbard where they will touch land.

Game plan

The team expects to make it to the first land within two months after which they will continue about another 400 km to the south until they reach Longyearbyen, the biggest settlement on Spitsbergen, Svalbard.

They say on their website, “Depot has been put out on the coast of Nordaustlandet by the help of Dutch two masts sailing vessel Noordelicht. We prepare totally for about 1400 kilometers, but ice drift and weather conditions can unpredictably change it.”

Update Apr 23, 2012 04:55 pm EDT: The home team reported to ExWeb the depot on Nordaustlandet (an island of the Svalbard archipelago) will be used to stock up on food and fuel. From there the team will continue to Longyearbyen.

Timo and Audun plan to carry out some measurements during expedition. “These would be most likely snow and ice thickness, snow/air temperature, sea ice concentration and ice flow drift/ridges observations.”

Dangers and challenges

Polar bears will be one of the biggest potential dangers they will face as water open more and bears roam to find seals.

The team says on their website without a doubt the number one challenge would be sea ice conditions. For example at the last leg of the trip where ice normally is moving quite fast to the southwest towards Fram Strait between Greenland and Svalbard they expect to be challenged.

“Another natural challenge for us is the West Spitsbergen Current. It runs poleward along the West coast of Spitsbergen and drives warm and salty Atlantic Water into the interior Arctic. It brings so much warmth that often keeps coastal waters of North coast of Spitsbergen ice free even in winter.”

Ed Note: Follow news about Audun and Timo on ExWeb’s Dispatch News Feeds
News about the expedition was shot over by Marko Kalve.

Timo is born in 1979 and Audun in 1972.

Biographies courtesy of the expedition website:

Audun Tholfsen is a Norwegian, who is born in Lillehammer 1972. Since the time of teenager he has immersed himself in the outdoors. He worked as a white water river guide and photographer for several years. After that Audun moved further north to Spitsbergen, where worked as snowmobile guide and dog musher. Previously he has done several ski trips in Svalbard and Norway.

Together with Timo, they crossed Greenland icecap on skies. Audun spent ten months as crewmember on French sailing vessel Tara. She froze into the Arctic pack ice close to New Siberian Islands and drifted across the entire Arctic Ocean. Currently, Audun works in Longyearbyen to provide logistic solutions and field support in Arctic regions.

Timo Palo is an Estonian, born in Võru 1979. He is from the scenic southern-east part of Estonia. Skiing became his passion in early days already. After years of practicing biathlon and tasting of adventure sport, he is now fully concentrated to the polar regions. Working and studying in polar meteorology as a PhD student in University of Tartu, he has been participated on several scientific cruises and field work campaigns in the Arctic and lately also in Antarctica.

Timo has previously done several ski trips in Svalbard, Norway and Khibiny mountains. In 2008 he and Audun crossed Greenland ice cap. Before Timo had crossed Estonia and Hardangervidda mountain plateau in Norway. He also worked as a crewmember on board of schooner Tara during her transpolar drift. Seasonally Timo has been working in Spitsbergen on the logistic and field support in the same company as Audun do. Some years for now Timo has had a passion in outdoor photography, focusing on polar world.

#Oceans #Polar

Kayak rolling during Audun and Timo's preparations for this Arctic expedition.
Timo Palo
The route.
Audun Tholfsen

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