Catlin Arctic Survey : it’s abandoned

Published on 14.05.2009 - Catlin Arctic Survey

When the trio was still 490 kilometres from the North Pole, and after a 73-day trek, Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley threw in the towel. Two Twin Otters were needed for recovering them...

So much for the itinerary accomplished since last year, when Pen Hadow was announcing to the world that he was going to undertake the most fantastic Arctic expedition ever attempted, setting out from the coast North of Alaska in an attempt to get to the North Pole, i.e. a trek of more than 2,000 kilometres.

At the moment of departure, last February, the ambitions had already been seriously down-played. Not only were the three members of the expedition no longer leaving as envisaged from Point Barrow (71° 23 ' 20 " NR/156° 28 ' 45 " O), which meant that they would not be covering the entire distance, but also they were  dropped with their various bits and bobs on the ice at approximately 800 km from the pole. Fully decided to do battle with the pack ice and the scientific measurements that they were supposed to take.

Then, as the weeks went by, it was disillusion (we won't mention the breakdown of certain scientific appliances that handicapped the expedition). Because the pack ice was melting more quickly than envisaged, they could no longer take the risk of getting a Twin Otter to land on a frozen ocean that was completely breaking up.

The trio was therefore recovered on 13 May when they were still to 490 km from the pole and had remained 73 days on the ice. They had covered 434 km in total.

The saddest thing about this adventure is that the scientific measurements made by the trio (the expedition made 16,000 observations, i.e. 216,216 observations per day! - and taken 1,500 measurements of the thickness and density of the ice) will in all probability be less meaningful over a distance of 434 km than if they had been made over the entire distance as initially envisaged , which was 2,000 km! How are the mathematical models going to react when they have to ingest this data?

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