We are happy to report that our team has departed on schedule. Woot woot! This may not seem like a big deal, but it is! (This season has been fraught with delays and our team is one of the only teams not to be delayed by 10 days).As they drove to the airport the team was nearly giddy with excitement. They were chanting BARNEO! BARNEO! The flight to the Barneo Basecamp takes roughly 2.5 hours. Because there are only a handful of windows on the plane most people don't get to see the pack ice before they land. When the plane's door opens they emerge into a landscape (actually a frozen seascape) that's unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. It's likely to be a late night for the team. The word "night" describes the time of day but not how light or dark it is because they have 24 hour sunlight. Upon arrival the team will meet with the basecamp manager, review their communication schedule, get a weather update, learn as much as they can about ice conditions, select the best departure point, load the helicopters with kit and people and take off for what may be an hour flight to their starting point. But as soon as the helicopter drops them off and takes off, all the noise and hectic moments melt away and everything becomes much more focused and simple. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Ski. North.
Update: The team reported in again at 2 AM local time. They had a relatively short stopover at the Barneo Basecamp before heading off by helicopter for their starting point at N 89.01.1, E 140. They skied a short distance before making camp at N 89.1.58, E 140. The weather was clear with a blue sky and a breeze of around 6 knots. The temperature was a brisk - 30 F / -34 C. That's cold! But cold temperatures are preferred over warm temperatures, because they tend to come with stable weather. Warm temperatures tend to bring low visibility, wind and generally deteriorating weather.The cold weather will require that everyone is vigilant about keeping their extremities and core warm, while also not overheating from the hard work of pulling a sled. Temperature and moisture management are two of the hardest parts of the expedition, along with maintaining a high level of energy throughout the day. That may sound easy if you are reading this from the comfort of a warm house, with water flowing from a tap and a variety of food at the ready. At the North Pole it is something that you have to constantly work at to maintain. Simple but difficult. Like so many things when it's -30F/-34C outside!
Stay tuned for another update from the North Pole Last Degree Ski Expedition.