In 1893 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen with crew of 12 others attempted to reach the geographical North Pole by using the natural transpolar current of the Arctic Ocean. Nansen took his ship Fram to the New Siberian Islands and let her froze into the pack ice, after what they waited for the drift to carry her towards the pole. When Nansen realised that Fram would not reach the North Pole by the force of the current, he decided to choose one fellow and try to reach the pole by ski. After leaving their icebound ship Fram in March 1895, Nansen and his chosen companion Hjalmar Johansen set out for the Pole on skis together with 28 dogs. They reached latitude 86°14′ North before had to abandoned the attempt and retreat southwards, eventually reaching Franz Josef Land.
Before leaving ship for this epic journey, Nansen had considered two possible land points to return. He also counted it as a decision, which has to be made based on ice conditions and the fact how far they could reach. As they had to return back earlier than Nansen hoped, then cape Fligely in Franz Josef Land archipelago was the closest and most reasonable. But if they would have make it to the North Pole, then Spitsbergen instead would have had stronger arguments to return. Nansen knew that in Spitsbergen they will meet people, as expecting them in Franz Josef Land couldn’t be so sure. Eventually if wouldn’t had found British there, they most probably would have continued their journey towards Spitsbergen anyway.
Among several other possibilities, most of the earlier North Pole expeditions have been started towards the pole either from Canadian side (Ellesmere Land) or Russian side (Cape Arktichesky). As much as known for us, no one has ever been skied nor paddled from North Pole to Spitsbergen without dogs and resupplies.
Our goal is to take one consideration from this two men epic journey, well known in polar history – the plan what never became completed – we will try to return from North Pole back to the civilization in Spitsbergen.
After being air dropped at the geographical North Pole, we will face to south and have to get back home. We expect to make it to the first land within two months. After what the journey will be continued about 400 kilometers more to the south until Longyearbyen (the biggest settlement of Svalbard). Depot has been put out on the coast of Nordaustlandet by the help of Dutch two masts sailing vessel Noordelicht. We prepare totally for about 1400 kilometers, but ice drift and weather conditions can unpredictably change it.
CHALLENGES, WHAT WE FACE UP TO
Without a doubt the number one would be sea ice conditions. We are so much dependent of ice, that it is the crucial part of the expedition. It’s not only the consentration and thickness but also drift has very important aspects. Even if we expect to have positive drift, it can turn to negative and take us back in some point. This can be quite frustrating, when kilometers you have advanced during day, has been taken back by the drift during “night”. Yet, even forward drift can turn out to be our nightmare at the last leg of the trip, where ice normally is moving quite fast to the southwest, towards Fram strait between Greenland and Svalbard. The least we would like, is to finish on the open sea of North Atlantic. Drift very much depends on atmosphere circulation and wind pattern.
Another natural challenge for us is the West Spitsbergen Current. It runs poleward along the West coast of Spitsbergen and drives warm and salty Atlantic Water into the interior Arctic. It brings so much warmth that often keeps coastal waters of North coast of Spitsbergen ice free even in winter.
Drifting ice also means, that we are walking on the moving surface, and it is an ocean. On this kind of unstabel surface you never can’t feel yourself too safe. When one immersed into icy water, there is not much time before hypothermia takes all your strength. Winds and currents drive ice floes apart, creating therefore leads of open water, which can be sometimes huge – kilometers of wide. When leads are closing and floes are riding over each other or tip up to the surface, pressure ridges will appear. They can rise as high as several meters. Probably even more than huge open water areas, we find rubble ice to be challenging – the chaotic mess of pressurized ice. This can be very time consuming to cross.
Polar bears are always counted as a great potential danger, when traveling in the Arctic. Sea ice is their home and they might wandering everywhere around there. Though, usually they show up closer to the land. Several bear deterrents will be used to keep ourselves safe.
Weather is something you could predict but never avoid. Polar weather is characterised by its unpredictability. Even when temperatures won’t be so low in this time of the year, the wind and poor visibility can still affect our advancement. When moving on the sea ice, visibility becomes very important to watch ahead and plan your route. On the Arctic Ocean, the presence of open water can be deduced from shadows of the dark surface water on the underside of clouds. Despite the fact that we are moving in 24 hour daylight, there won’t be hoped much sun in the Arctic summer. Rather stratus cloud layer becomes more typical at this time of the year.
Fail presented below briefly describes the expedition / Allpool saad maha laadida eestikeelse kokkuvõtte!