(By Correne Coetzer, updated Mar 1, 06:25 am EST) Ed note, update (lost in translation): Italian solo skier, Michele Pontrandolfo, is still in Resolute Bay. Yesterday was reported that Michele said to ExWeb that he is back home. He meant to say that he is planning to go home. He spent 10 days in the high Canadian Arctic and is scheduled to leave for the Geographic North Pole start point at Cape Discovery on March 5. Confusion with rescue money arrangements has Michele’s expedition in the balance. Other teams and home teams told Explorersweb they will know on Monday (Mar 3) what the situation will be.
Feb 28, 03:23 am EST:
Michele explained that the logistics provider, Kenn Borek Air, changed the arrangement regarding the money in case of a rescue during the expedition. Previously they were satisfied with a bank guarantee to secure money for a rescue pick-up, but since February 24, Kenn Borek wants money upfront and it has to be paid by March 3. Michele told ExWeb he'll provide more info later.
Michele writes in his blog he always had a bank guarantee since he came to Resolute Bay since 2006, otherwise he couldn’t leave. He adds, ”I think it's also fair as the pilots themselves are risking their lives during the landings.”
Michele added, "We all have agreed to send an urgent email to the head office of the airline, asking the reasons for the decision not to use the bank guarantee anymore, but to have the money directly."
Polar Medical and Search-and-Rescue insurance have become extremely difficult to find the past years as Insurance companies do not want to take the risk, in particular with North Pole ski expeditions. Since 2010 nobody has successfully skied from land to the Geographic North Pole; much to be compared to the success rate on "the mountaineers' mountain", K2. On the Arctic ice, only North Pole to land expeditions were successful since 2010.
Other teams to 90ºN
Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters are leaving Colorado today for Resolute Bay. Eric writes in a blog post earlier this month about the high costs involved in a NP ski, "It's hard to imagine a reality that spending $60,000 more than what you had initially planned provides a relief from stress, but surprisingly, it does and I can't even begin to describe the weight that was lifted after Ryan and I made the decision to extend our North Pole pick up date. Polar travel: the most expensive way of having a bad time ever devised.”
He also explains that the charter costs for flying out of the North Pole back to Resolute Bay is nearly $100,000. "It's hard to imagine a place so remote and isolated that someone has to spend $100,000 just for a flight to get there (or back as the case may be). Yet that place exists - at least right now it does."
The 20-something Norwegian team, Kristoffer Glestad and Lars Mangerud Flesland, is currently preparing and training in Iqaluit. They are booked on the same March 7th plane to Cape Discovery with Eric and Ryan.
Japanese solo skier, Yasu Ogita, is in Resolute after spending 10 days in Iqaluit. In an interview with ExWeb last week, Yasu says he has a Japanese insurance company for covering medical care and emergency charter flight fee.
The Irish team, Clare O'Leary and Mike O’Shea, who is booked on the same March 5th flight with Yasu and Michele, reported -51ºC in Resolute. On their website they say the estimated cost of their North Pole expedition is €250,000 [USD 345,000] which covers charter flights, food, equipment etc. The team has not yet given an indication of the impact of this rescue money arrangement on their expedition.
1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole
Royal Air Force Regiment Northern Exposure 2014 Expedition with Matt Stowers and Kev O’Brien arrived in Resolute Bay for another attempt to the 1996 MNP at 78° 35'42.00"N, 104° 11’54.00”W in preparation for a future full Geographic North Pole expedition.
Resolute Bay is at 74° 41.808N, 094° 49.402W.
Last year Three Poles adventurer, Adrian Hayes told ExplorersWeb, both poles were harder overall than any mountain he has ever climbed. After a K2 attempt he was asked again by ExWeb if he still agrees having been on K2?
Adrian: '"Hard' is obviously subjective and personal to individual climbers. As always I found the heat of climbing in bright sunshine on a glacier way harder to handle than the cold. Due to probably insufficient rotations, I also only finally found my full groove after we went up to C2 for our summit attempt.
It was hard indeed, but one always has to balance the relaxation of many days at base camp in good weather, which the Poles do not enjoy, I will always hold the view that trekking all the way to the North Pole is the hardest thing on Earth!"
Teams starting from Cape Discovery, Ellesmere Island to the Geographic North Pole (90ºN)
Yasu Ogita, Japan, solo
Michele Pontrandolfo, Italy, solo
Team Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters:
Eric Larsen, USA
Ryan Waters, USA
Team Kristoffer Glestad (24), Norway and
Lars Mangerud Flesland (25), Norway
Irish team Clare O'Leary and Mike O’Shea
Starting from Geographic North Pole (90N) to Canada
'Arctic March' team:
Eric Philips, Australia
Bernice Notenboom, The Netherlands / Canada
Martin Hartley, UK
1996 Magnetic North Pole
Matt Stowers and Kev O’Brien
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