2013 North Pole skiers thwarted by 2012 record minimum sea ice

Posted: Jan 14, 2013 03:35 pm EST

(Newsdesk) Polar expeditions are done in some of the world's most harsh and remote areas and are always "weather permitting". Last year the Arctic ice has reached a record minimum. Skiers doing the full route to the Geographic North Pole (90°N), starting from land, are very much depended on the condition and availability of sea ice to travel on for approximately two months.

Irish Polar adventurers, Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary, who abandoned their North Pole attempt last year had plans to attempt the route from Canada again this year.

Today they announced that they are deferring their planned 2013 North Pole expedition because of the last year's record minimum sea ice, and secondly because a big storm coming in from the Baltic has broken up the ice in its first phase of freezing.

ExplorersWeb has also received word that Canadian Kenn Borek Air, who flies the North Pole skiers to their start points at the northern Canadian coast, has decided not to fly onto the ice until March 5th this year, which is 5 days later than previously. Furthermore, The Russians at Ice Camp Barneo, who pick up the skiers at the North Pole, are closing their camp on April 22nd this year, 4 days earlier than previous. This shortens the window in which the skiers have to finish their expeditions from Canada. Most of the skiers this year planned to ski from Canada.

Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary's announcement

"Today we have three announcements to make, firstly, with deep regret, we are deferring our planned North Pole 2013 expedition; the Arctic ice is in poor condition - this is caused by two events, firstly the biggest melt of the ice in history, and secondly a big storm coming in from the Baltic that has really broken up the ice in its first phase of freezing."

"This will make travel on the ice extremely difficult and slow and having spoken with all the other teams, it appears nobody will make an attempt this year; that will be 3 years without an expedition successfully completing the expedition." [Ed note: This will be three years for an expedition starting from the coast to the North Pole as Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen have crossed the Arctic ice from the North Pole to land (Svalbard) in 2012.]

"We will continue to strive towards becoming the first Irish team to do the complete walk to the North Pole, the last great Irish achievement in expedition terms and recognized as the toughest expedition in the World."

"Instead we shall attempt to walk the complete length of Lake Baikal in Siberia, this is a distance of 778km and holds 20% of the World's freshwater supply; it is the biggest lake in the world by volume. After completing that, we intend to cross the Vatnajokull Icecap in Iceland; this is to maintain our training regime and to ensure that we keep enhancing our experience for the other goals we have planned."

"The third announcement is the most exciting: the North Pole Facebook page is being transferred to "The Ice Project", which is an ambitious project by Mike & Clare to walk across all the major Ice Caps in the World, culminating with a crossing of South Georgia on the Centenary of one of Ireland's greatest polar moments."

"We hope to complete the legacy of Irish Polar Adventure, and to bring to the classrooms of the next generation an understanding of goals, achievements and perseverance. We hope that you will continue to support us into the future, maybe share your expertise with us and join us on the trips that will be open to others to participate in." END

The most popular full ski routes the past few years from land to the Geographic North Pole (90°N) are from Canada; either from Ward Hunt Island (775km) or Cape Discovery (780km).

Previous/Related:

North Pole 2012 ExWeb interview (Part 2 of 3): Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen, “Mentally the most exhaustive was to walk on the rotten ice floes at the end”

North Pole 2012 ExWeb interview (Part 3 of 3): Timo Palo and Audun Tholfsen: “We were hunted by a polar bear from the water like a seal that’s lying on the ice floe”

North Pole by ski and canoe/kayak: Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen recall

Pen Hadow announces Arctic ski crossing

North Pole 2013: Ogita Yasunaga to return for solo ski; and Arctic video

Video: 2012 Northern Patagonia Ice Cap crossing (Mike, Clare &team;)

ExWeb interview with Mike O'Shea, “The nature of the NP trip will require us to deal with whatever is thrown”

ExWeb interview with Clare O'Leary: flying the female flag among 15 men

ExplorersWeb Expedition list

Adventure Stats


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September 2012 Arctic sea ice extent.
Image by National Snow and Ice Data Center courtesy National Snow and Ice Data Center, SOURCE

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