The Ultimate Arctic Crossing 2002

From 28.02.2002 to 29.03.2002 - Status: abandoned

Alain Hubert & Dixie Dansercoer

Alain Hubert & Dixie Dansercoer

© International Polar Foundation

Belgians Alain Hubert and Dixie Dansercoer are going for the longest arctic traverse ever attempted. They plan to cross - unsupported - the entire Arctic ocean starting from New Siberian Islands and heading to Ward Hunt (Canada) - a 2350 km trek.

Until now, the major Polar crossings of the Arctic Ocean began from Cape Arktishewski in Siberia, and ended in Ellesmere Island (see map), a journey of approximately 1700 kilometres, as the crow flies. The trajectory envisaged by Alain Hubert is significantly longer, setting out as it does from the New Siberian Islands. It will measure approximately 2400 km in a straight line. A comparable feat has never been undertaken.

The Compaq Pole II Expedition will take place between the months of February and June 2002. The two man team will be deposed on the ice by helicopter in the region of the New Siberian Islands, (at 76° N) at the beginning of the month of February. They are planning to reach Ward Hunt about one hundred days later. Progress will be maintained following the classic practice for Polar expeditions on the Arctic ice pack - each man pulling a sledge, which, initially, will weigh about 180 kilos.

The sledges have a certain singularity in that they have been conceived of and developed by Alain Hubert and his team, (following long and careful study), to withstand the shocks that are a part of progress over a chaotic glacial environment. The sledges will equally serve as amphibious craft, able to cross open leads, of which there is an ever-increasing occurrence.

The expedition materials (skis, bindings, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, etc.), the Polar equipment (jackets, shoes, gloves, etc.), their daily food, every item has been subjected to scrutiny and refined to meet their needs. Profiting from several years of experience in Polar terrain, and faithful to their scientific and rigorous approach to preparation, Alain Hubert and Dixie Dansercoer have brought their experience to bear on the smallest details. Only 100 days worth of food will be transported.

The Expedition will encounter numerous, and exceptional difficulties along their route : not least is the cold, combined with the wind chill factor, the instability of the ice, with its unforeseeable variations in thickness (changing from hour to hour literally), the enormous zones of compression which throw up large pressure ridges, open water, which increasingly splits up the surface of the ice as global warming continues. To which one can add the eternal fear of a fall into the freezing waters (Alain Hubert already experienced this situation during his journey to the North Pole with Didier Goetghebuer in 1994, see here ), and days of bad weather, white outs, the rationing of food, the immense weight of the sledges, etc...

During the expedition, Alain Hubert and Dixie Dansercoer will carry out scientific observations on the characteristics of the ice (thickness, type, concentration, zones of compression, etc.). The results of these observations will serve to validate the CLIO (Couple Large Scale Ice Ocean) mathematical model, which has been used since 1985 to simulate the drift patterns of Arctic ice by researchers from the Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (G. Lemaitre) of Louvain la Neuve, in particular Thierry Fichefet, Hugues Goosse and Benoît Tartinville.

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