The Pole and everything it comes with

Published on 25.04.2007 - The Arctic Arc

At the pole

At the pole

© International Polar Foundation

The Belgians Alain Hubert and Dixie Dansercoer reached the North Pole at 10 30 pm (GMT +4) yesterday evening. The last day had been particularly tiring.

Yesterday morning, Tuesday April 24th, we all expected the last progression day to the Pole to be a simple formality. The men had told us the previous evening that the good weather was back, that the ice surface had been perfect for gliding and that everything was looking good for the next day. Furthermore, the atmospheric pressure was rising, the sky was clear and a relatively flat landscape presented itself before the questioning eyes of the two men at their Monday evening camp. Everything seemed to be pointing to the fact that the last twenty kilometres would be nothing more than a simple formality, after all the setbacks they have endured these past 54 days.

But, it was not! To paraphrase polar travellers who have a tendency to speak with their adventure grounds and to assign them speaking skills, we should say that the Arctic undoubtedly found that the two men had to really deserve their first victory, that they had probably not suffered enough yet and that it was thus still necessary to punctuate the first stage with a few good obstacles. In other words, yesterday was another day of hell. "I really don't understand anything anymore," explained Hubert to telsat, "yesterday's landscape was turned completely upside down, there was water everywhere again. Endless leads, icy areas we were unable to bypass, extremely dangerous passages, zones of no horizon, we had to turn around and go back several times, it was one of our most difficult days."

Nevertheless, after a 13-hour strenuous fight, the Belgians finally reached the finish of their first stage. They progressed 930 km in 54 days, with a daily average of 17.2 kilometres per day (without taking into account the drifts).

The outcome of this first stage

Overall, the outcome of this first stage is positive. There were of course the frostbites on Alain Hubert's fingers, the solar panel and battery problems which disturbed somewhat our communication with them, there was also the delay due to bad weather, and then the fact that Alain has just lost his compass. But, apart from all that, everything worked brilliantly. Equipment, food, accessories, instruments, technology, clothing, harmony between the two men, physical and moral health, spiritual force: everything is ready -and running especially smoothly- to start the second stage of this expedition, North Pole coastal Greenland, across 800 km.

A good omen: this morning, the camp set at the North Pole had already shifted over 6 kilometres in the right direction!

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