Slowly but surely

Published on 18.03.2009 - Peary Centennial North Pole Expedition

Lonnie Dupré's expedition is advancing slowly because the pack-ice is so jumbled and messy. But the trio's morale is good and they are making better progress with each passing day.

The group set out on 4th March after being dropped off at Ward Hunt by DC3 (a workhorse aircraft left over from the Second World War that is still in operation in some remote corners of the world). Dupré and his two companions suffered from the cold out on the pack-ice during the first few days, with temperatures approaching minus 50°C at night and still minus 45°C during the day. On 4th March, Lonnie pulled on his harness for the first time (for hauling his sledge), only to find the foam lining had decomposed into a thousand pieces, just like biscuit crumbs! And when they set out in the morning, it took them a good hour to warm up their hands, and half as long again to get the feeling back into their toes!

Apart from the cold, it's the terrible ice conditions that are slowing the three men down, preventing them from travelling more than 5 hours a day, constantly throwing up gigantic obstacles in their way. But this is quite usual for any expedition setting out from Ward Hunt in the direction of the North Pole. As it approaches the coast, the floes and the pack-ice are encountering an unusual braking effect as they drift across the ocean, smashing against one another, creating impressive hummocks.

As they distance themselves more and more from the coast each day, the three men are finding the going easier. On day 13, they jauntily passed the 6 nautical mile mark for the day (see the table below, 6.4 nautical miles in 7 hours) and even 7 nautical miles the next day (12 km in 7 hours 25 minutes of travel). Plus, of course, the sledge is getting lighter and the cold less harsh. By 17th March, they were approaching 84 degrees latitude.

Their progress table:

  • March 04, D 01, Cape Discovery, N83.01.36 / W77.32.04, 2.3 NM, -48°C
  • March 05, D 02, N 83° 05' 02'' / W 77° 33' 11'', 5 hours walk, 3.7 NM, -42°C
  • March 06, D 03, N 83° 06' 37'' / W 77° 36' 08'', 4,75 hours walk, 1.3 NM, -43°C
  • March 07, D 04, N 83° 08' 58'' / W 77° 35' 19'', 4,5 hours walk, 2.2 NM, -45°C
  • March 08, D 05, rest day
  • March 09, D 06, N 83°12' 52'' / W 77° 36' 33'', 6 hours walk, 4 NM, -37°C
  • March 10, D 07, N 83°17' 04'' / W 77° 34' 16'', 6,5 hours walk, 4,1 NM, -39°C
  • March 11, D 08, N 83°22' 29'' / W 77° 33' 20'', 6,5 hours walk, 5.4 NM, -28°C
  • March 12, D 09, N 83°27' 56'' / W 77° 33' 15'', 6,5 hours walk, 5.5 NM, -32°C
  • March 13, D 10, N 83°32' 31'' / W 77° 31' 45'',  -33°C
  • March 14, D 11, 83.6288 N / 77.5855 W, -36°C
  • March 15, D 12, N 83°43' 28'' / W 77° 40' 18'', 7 hours walk, 5.9 NM,
  • March 16, D 13, N 83°49' 52'' / W 77° 53' 16'', 7,15 hours walk, 6.4 NM,
  • March 17, D 14, N 83°57' 07'' / W 77° 54' 42'', 7,25 hours walk, 7.25 NM.
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