The Arctic Polar Expedition / Season Spring 2005


Pole Track 2005 (Marc Cornelissen, Doug Stoup & Petter Nyquist)


Open the document presenting the entire project (PDF)
Display here our map covering all the spring 2005 expeditions

Monday April 4th
Due to serious problems occured between Cerpolex and russian authorities last week, french TO decided to force the expeditions to be evacuated - they could not assume their security, they say. Here is what Ann and Liv have written or their website after this forced evacuation :

March 1st : What was going to be a re-supply flight yesterday unexpectedly turned into a pickup flight, taking Pole Track and the other two expeditions back to land. The cause is apparently a dispute between logistics operators that lead to a situation where the safety of the expedition(s) could no longer be guaranteed. The only safe option was to be airlifted out.
On a positive note, Marc managed to place one of the three weather stations on the ice on this last day. Meanwhile we have a confirmation that the weather station is successfully transmitting data via a satellite connection. The team will look into alternative options of deploying the remaining two weather stations in the arctic.

March 4th : After a unexpectedly short expedition, Marc, Doug, and Petter are currently in Krasnoyarsk en route back to The Netherlands. The team is scheduled to depart for Moscow tomorrow, and hopefully they'll catch a connection to Amsterdam the same day. 
Despite the unforeseen end of the expedition, the team is still in good spirits.
Marc said, "Every expedition has its set-backs, and this is one of them." He'll continue to pursue alternatives to complete the expedition's goal of contributing towards climate change research.

Tuesday March 29th
83 parallel crossed on March 25th. Good weather with blue sky, but cold temperatures remain until - 33.6°C. Ice also is getting better and better every day ; they experience large, excellent, almost undisturbed open fields of ice for the first time with only a few small open leads. They hope that these conditions will remain as they are now...
17 km done Sunday.

Friday March 25th
Like the other expeditions, Pole Track is experiencing difficulties in crossing the stretches of open water that zigzag across their route. The men are having to negotiate ten or more of these leads every day, which of course is slowing down their rate of progress. They have nevertheless been able to record an impressive progress log so far: 21 km on Thursday 24th March, whereas the previous day they advanced 13.5 km.
Marc Cornelissen's knees, ankles and heels (that have bothered him quite a lot thus far) are holding up, but are still quite fragile.
Distance remaining to the Pole: 819 km.

Sunday March 20th
Despite difficult ice conditions, serious eastern drift, frequent white out conditions and heavy ridges to cross, the team is progressing allright : 10 km on Tuesday, another 10 km Friday and 15,6 km last Saturday. Wich takes them at 903 km from the NP !
The temparatures are not that low anymore : -22.3°C (Saturday), -19°C (Thursday), -37,5°C with windchill on Wednesday and -34,5°C, also with windchill last Tuesday.

Wednesday March 16th
The Pole Track team covered between 9.6 and 10 km today and has reported temperatures of -34.5°C with a wind speed of approximately 1.5 knots. Marc, Doug, and Petter feel numb often and have to work to keep their blood circulation going to all extremities.
Not only is the extreme cold proving challenging, the terrain has changed dramatically as well. In the beginning, the team traveled on fresh, thin ice with broken, sharp edges. Today they've experienced traveling on thicker and older, rounded ice with less algae on the surface. This ice has been disturbed, resulting in areas for new snow to accumulate, which makes towing the sledges difficult. Their readings also show a lot more snow cover. Put quite simply: it's HARD work moving forward.
Each day, after the team has traveled for about 6 hours, they pitch the tent and set up camp for the night. Then Marc, Petter , and Doug go out together to take snow measurements, taking turns at who does each task so as to avoid anyone's fingers freezing. While one teammate takes the measurements and calls them out to the second person, the third teammate stands guard to watch for polar bears as a safety precaution.
Read more about the scientific goals of the expedition

Sunday March 13th
After many delays, the Pole Track expedition finally set foot on the ice-covered Arctic Ocean today. They were dropped off by helicopter around 81° North at 12:00pm Khatanga time. The ice and weather conditions are reported to be good. The current temperature is -27°C. On this first day the expedition covered a respectable 9.4 kilometers. Last Saturday the team, led by Marc Cornelissen from the Netherlands, was stopped by the military border guard in Khatanga for no apparent reason. They had already been delayed for more than a week, although all authorities involved had granted permission for the team to leave. The same happened again on Thursday morning, but this time, with the help of both the Dutch and the Norwegian ambassadors in Moscow, the problems were swiftly resolved, and the team was finally able to continue their journey north on Friday morning.
From their current position Doug, Petter, and Marc will embark on their two-month long ski trek to the geographic North Pole, taking measurements of ice and snow cover along the way and deploying three miniature weather stations to collect data about the polar climate.

This afternoon, Dutch time, Pole Track Base Camp received information that the Pole Track team and the other two expeditions traveling with them have reached Golomnyany near Sredney. Although Marc, Doug and Petter haven't yet called in to confirm their location, they are supposed to spend the night at the Golomnyany weather station.
The logistics company has also just informed us that the teams will be brought to the ice tomorrow morning.

Thursday March 10th
Yesterday another faxed permission from the authorities in Murmansk permitting departure was received...only to be over-ruled again this morning by the border guards during departure preparations.
The Pole Track team was originally planned to be on the ice on February 23rd to begin their 1,000 km ski trek to the North Pole in the name of global warming research. A one week delay was accounted for in the planning, but this extra delay is setting the team back in their schedule. Therefore, all options are currently being explored to allow the team to still carry out their mission, which is supported by several international organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In addition, this further delay is also affecting the other two expeditions traveling with the Pole Track team to the ice.

Wednesday March 9th
On March 7 the logistical provider of Pole Track released a formal statement on the cause of the delays. They are being actively obstructed by a competitive Moscow based company, which is using its network within the Russian authority to delay operations.
Although all permissions have been obtained, Pole Track and two other expeditions were stopped last Saturday at the Khatanga airport by the border guard military. Without being given any official explanation, a phone call from the military post at Murmansk overruled the approved flight plan. This plan includes stops in the military areas of Cape Chelyuskin and Sredny to re-fuel before continuing on to Cape Arktichesky , the starting point of the expedition. On the morning of Sunday, March 6, military security rose to an unprecedented level when four armed guards locked the airport in case the expedition would attempt to leave, even with written permission in hand.
Pole Track expedition leader Marc Cornelissen stated, "Every expedition is a matter of adapting to the situation. We have to be flexible and adjust our plans, if necessary, in such a way that the main objectives of Pole Track are met while still carrying out a safe operation. We have come here to highlight the beauty of the arctic and to focus on the changes that global warming is causing to this unique eco-system. It is hard to believe that our efforts, which have the support of many international organizations and institutions, are being obstructed.

The three men when training last year
Courstesy : Jonneke van Eijsden/Beluga Adventures

Monday March 7th
After clearing customs with all of the proper paperwork in hand last Saturday morning, the expedition was further delayed for mysterious reasons. The team was in the process of boarding the helicopter, which was all ready to go, when an official ran out onto the tarmac and told them to stop. No reason was given other than that the Pole Track expedition and the other 2 expeditions sharing the helicopter did not have permission to depart. This is just the most recent of several strange delays. Needless to say, frustration has set in. As Khatanga is closed today and tomorrow for public holidays, the earliest that the helicopter could depart is Wednesday.