Traveling to the North Pole presents some very unique and difficult challenges over a journey to the South. For starters, Antarctica actually has solid land underneath the polar icecap, while the Arctic is actually one giant slab of ice floating above the Arctic Ocean. That means that the ice is far less stable, and Arctic explores often have to deal with large open areas of water, called leads, that they must somehow find a way around, or cross. In recent years, those open leads have become larger and more frequent, particularly at the start of the journey, with global climate change usually being blamed.
Arctic explorers also have to deal with a frustrating phenomenon known as negative drift as well. Negative drift is caused when the large slab of ice they are traveling across actually floats further south, carrying them away from their intended destination at 90ºN. It is not uncommon for someone traveling in the Arctic to spend a full day covering ten miles of distance, only to stop for the night and have negative drift carry them in the opposite direction. More than one Arctic explorer has found that they are significantly further away from the North Pole when they wake up the next morning than they were when they went to sleep.
Those aren't the only challenges to Arctic travel either. For instance, the unstable nature of the ice can cause large areas of it to collide with one another, causing it to crack and break. This can create large debris fields filled with massive boulders of ice which can be extremely difficult to cross, particularly when you're dragging a sled filled with equipment and gear behind you. Additionally, when traveling through the Arctic, explorers need to carry a shotgun with them to help dissuade the polar bears from getting a little too close. In the Antarctic, explorers never encounter anything more vicious than a penguin.
As I write this, two expeditions are preparing to get underway. The Irish North Pole team, consisting of Clair O'Leary and Mike O'Shea, are waiting for word on whether or not their flight to Cape Discovery will fly today. Joining them on that flight will be Japanese solo skier Yasunaga Ogita, who hopes to complete an unsupported journey of his own to the North Pole.
In the days ahead, more teams, including a large contingent from the Indian Army, will head out on the ice. Lets just hope they have better luck than last year, when bad storms at the start of the season delayed flights long enough that most of the explorers simply gave up and went home. The window for skiing to the North Pole is a very narrow one, and the journey has only gotten tougher in the past few years. I hope that everyone at least gets a fair shot at achieving their goals in 2012.
These articles might interest you :
A while ago I wondered about cycling to the Pole, had it been done, was it possible and all that.. apparently it's been attempted before and now presenter... Read moreBy Exceedpossibility
The Explorers Connect community for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts has recently re-launched with the aim of helping out current and future expeditions as wel... Read moreBy Exceedpossibility
Ever wondered what kind of gear you need to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole? If so, you'll probably really enjoy this blog post from Mark Wood from... Read moreBy Kungfujedi
For the past few months we've been following Mark Wood on his North South Solo Expedition as he attempts to make back-to-back trips to the North and South Pole. Read moreBy Kungfujedi
For several months now I've posted regular articles about the ongoing internal struggles at the Explorers Club – a venerable institution that seems to be... Read moreBy Kungfujedi
For the past several months we've been following explorer Mark Wood as he attempts to become the first person to ski to the North and South Pole back-to-back. H... Read moreBy Kungfujedi
The Explorers Club annual dinner is one of the organization's hallmark events each year. It gives members an opportunity to come together in New York City, wher... Read moreBy Kungfujedi
MOST POPULAR FROM OUTDOORS
- The Proudest Peaks by Thervproject
- Thom Field by Hikingwithheather
- Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2017 Results – Enrico Ghidoni Wins 430 Mile Division by Abichal
- Fly Fishing in the Rain – Tips for an Awesome Day! by Chris Noal
MOST RECOMMENDED IN OUTDOORS
- Protests on Boston Common by Fopg
- Woman Sets Record for Fastest Person to Visit Every Country on Earth by Kungfujedi
- Belgian Explorer wins European Adventurer of the Year by Kungfujedi
- Winter Climbs 2017: Waiting Out the Weather on Everest by Kungfujedi