Approaching Canada

Published on 10.05.2011 - Pole to Pole Run

The team of the Pole to Pole Run Expedition is slowly approaching the northern coast of Canada. Everything is OK on board.

Here are some excerpts of the expedition diary :

Sparkling crystals, ice gargoyles...

9 May / "Entered a weathered icescape of knurled ridges and sinewy snowdrifts, wise like an old sage. I love my team, we travel as one. 22km. ..." Taking live from their base camp, Par Farmer put already his kayak for sale : the profit is for the Australian Red Cross, his cause for a lifetime.

They made a short celebration because today it's the first day since more than ten days on the ice that they are not forced to use their kayaks and paddle through the ice.

Their position : 84° 14’ 59” North / 76° 28’ 55” West / Total distance since the start : 657.28 km. According to an audio published by Eric Philips the day before they need to march for another 156 km to reach Canadian coast -"probably another week to go", says Philips.

07 May / "The land is like a fairytale, said Amundsen of Antarctica. So too is the Arctic. Sparkling crystals, ice gargoyles, fresh snow. Rafted two leads. 23km. Beautiful clouds today and a chance of spaghetti meatballs tonight. Despite rafting and detouring we slogged 25km. ..."

Their position of the day : 84° 39’ 42” North / 77° 11’ 4” West. They have done so far 610.81 km

06 May / "... A mixed bag of cloud, sun, water, plains, ski, raft. Cajun beans, rice & beef tonight. Vodka depleted, send in the Russians..." Their position : 85° 5’ 50” North / 77° 44’ 12” West

05 May " ... We thought the day would be 100% perfect - weather, surface, pace - but a complex lead stymied our 8th hour. 20km." Position : 85° 16’ 24” North / 77° 48’ 56” West

We are a well-oiled team

04 May / As the temperature goes down these days, this helps the team to cross leads and to progress a little bit faster (although they are in time). Another positive point for the moment : the N/S alignment of sastrugi and snow drifts, a remnant indicator of the wind directions of recent storms. These, together with the sun/shadow (sun is higher on the horizon each day), are perfect navigation tools rendering the compass temporarily redundant.

The same day, Eric writes : " The diurnal change in sun altitude is now palpable and at 1pm the sun hovers high and directly ahead, directly above our end point, Ward Hunt Island (Red : about 82°N). We now feel the warmth of it on our faces as we stop for our three 20 minute breaks. The good run gave us 21km and we are now camped 268km from Canada, with, as the ptarmigan flies, 512km behind us to the North Pole. Today marks four weeks on the trail and we predict another two, more or less. In another few days, after our sleds have lightened a little more, we'll add another 30 minutes of hauling time to our day. I don't expect we'll get a clear run through to Canada, days of water, pressure, wind, poor light and deep snow will surely follow, but it wouldn't be the Arctic without them, or an expedition without cursing them. ..."

"We are a well-oiled team. Our rafting of leads takes no more than 25 minutes or so and we all know our roles. Clip two sleds together, attach ferry lines, I go across, using a shovel as a paddle if it's water or an ice axe if it's thin ice, pull back the raft, Clark comes over followed by his sled Frankenstein on top (no longer watertight due to its operation), Jose and his sled Nanukin next and then Pat. Disassemble and off we trundle. ..."

Position of the day : 85° 27’ 31” North / 77° 43’ 15” West

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