Explorers rowing to the Magnetic North Pole

A team of explorers will row to the Magnetic North PoleA few days back, a crew of six adventurers set out in a specially designed rowboat on a 450-mile journey to the Magnetic North Pole. The six-week long journey began in Resolute Bay, Canada and will end when the team becomes the first to row to the Pole, which is located in a remote area of the Arctic Ocean.

Not to be confused with the Geographic North Pole, the Magnetic North Pole is actually the location on the surface of the Earth that a compass points to in the Northern Hemisphere. Over the years, that point has been known to change and move, but it is currently located at the coordinates of 78°35.7N 104°11.9W. The Geographic NP is, of course, found at the top of the world, at exactly 90°N.

This expedition is led by Jock Wishart, a veteran polar explorer and ocean rower. He is joined by a crew of experienced sailors and adventurers that includes Mark Delstanche, Billy Gammon, Rob Sleep, David Mans, and Mark Beaumont. The plan is for the team to row in three hour shifts, as they make slow, but steady, progress toward their goal.

According to the expedition’s website, the crew launched amidst good weather on Saturday, with low winds and temperatures hovering around 55°F. That is quite warm for the Arctic, and those conditions aren’t expected to last, as even in the summer, the temperatures can fall well below freezing and high winds can make travel extremely challenging.

If all goes as planned, the team should reach their goal sometime around the middle of September. You’ll be able to follow their progress at RowToThePole.com, which includes blog updates from the water, live GPS tracking, and plenty of information about the boat and her crew.

[Photo credit: RowToThePole.com]

Swedish explorer hopes to go Pole2Pole in one year

The Pole2Pole expedition will have Johan Ernst Nilson traveling from the North to the South PoleEarlier this week, Swedish explorer Johan Ernst Nilson set out on an ambitious, 12-month long journey that will see him travel from the North Pole to the South Pole in a completely carbon neutral manner. The so called Pole2Pole will use skis, dogsleds, sailboats, and a bike to accomplish its goals.

This past Tuesday, Nilson was shuttled by helicopter to the North Pole, where he embarked on his epic journey that will see him traveling south for the next year. He’ll start by skiing across the frozen Arctic Ocean to Greenland, where he’ll use a dogsled that to carry him to Thule Airbase on the northwest side of the country. Once there, he’ll climb aboard a sailboat and cross the North Atlantic to Ottawa, Canada, where he’ll get on a bike and ride to Tierra del Fuego, Chile at the far end of South America. Once he has completed the cycling leg of the journey, he’ll get back in his sailboat and sail across the Southern Ocean for Antarctica, where he hopes to kite-ski to the South Pole, arriving before April 5th, 2012.

When he’s done, Nilson will have traveled nearly 23,000 miles, averaging roughly 63 miles per day, without using a single bit of fossil fuel himself. The same can’t be said about his support team and the documentary crew that will be following him around. They’ll be outfitted with cars from Audi, the major sponsor of the expedition. The auto manufacturer aided Nilson by helping to design and build a new lightweight sled that he’ll be using to pull his gear behind him while in the polar regions of the journey.

This is going to be one difficult journey to make in a single year, and traveling in the Antarctic after January is always a dicey proposition. Nilson has his work cut out for him for sure, but it will certainly be an amazing accomplishment if he can pull it off.

Prince Harry begins arctic trek

Prince Harry is on an Arctic trek for charityWay back in January we posted a story about the possibility of Britain’s Prince Harry going to the North Pole as part of a fund raising effort for charity. While the prince won’t actually be heading to 90ºN as predicted, he did embark on an Arctic trek this week with a team of disabled veterans from the U.K.

After a number of weather delays, Harry and the rest of his group, were finally able to get underway on Monday. The journey began with a flight from Spitsbergen to the Barneo Ice Camp, a temporary base built on the Arctic Ocean that is annually constructed by a team of Russian paratroopers. After a very brief stay at the station, the group was shuttled off 87ºN, where most of the team began their 200 mile journey to the North Pole.

I say most of the team, because Harry won’t be making that journey with the vets. Instead, he’ll be picked up from the ice in a couple of days. The 25-year old prince was given special leave from his military duties to accompany the squad, but he is due back on base, where he’ll continue his training to become an Apache helicopter pilot. There is also the small matter of a wedding in the family soon as well.

The expedition is being undertaken to raise funds for the Walking with the Wounded foundation. The team hopes to raise as much as $3.2 million for the organization, which is dedicated to helping soldiers injured in military service to recover from their wounds and get on with their lives. Four of the men on the expedition were injured during the war in Afghanistan, with two of those being amputees. Prince Harry serves as a patron for Walking with the Wounded, which made it of utmost importance to him that he get to take part in the trek, even if it was only for a few days.

If all goes as scheduled, the team should arrive at the North Pole around the 25th of the month. Harry will be back in warmer climes by the weekend however.

[Photo credit: The Mirror]

16-year old looks to become youngest to North Pole

16-year old Parker Liautaud hopes to become the youngest person to the North Pole16-year old Parker Liautaud has set some rather large goals for himself. While many young men and women his age are concerned with getting good grades and who they’ll be taking to the dance on Saturday night, Parker is busy planning and training for an expedition to the North Pole. His second such expedition in fact.

Liautaud is hoping to become the youngest person to travel to the Pole on foot, and in two weeks time he’ll set out for the arctic to do just that. He and his guide, polar veteran Doug Stoup, will make a “Last Degree” journey from 89º North to the top of the world on skis. In the process, he hopes to raise awareness about the growing impact of global climate change on our environment, while also inspiring other young people to go out and do great things as well.

Parker attempted this same journey last year, but came up just short of his goal thanks to a combination of extremely bad weather, negative drift of the ice, and large sections of open water. Despite their best efforts, Parker and Stoup came up 15 miles shy of the finish line, and had to be airlifted to the North Pole via helicopter to catch their plane ride home. This year they hope to finish what they started in 2010.

While on the journey north, Parker and Stoup will be taking measurements of the amount of snow on the arctic ice. That data will be shared with the University of Alberta upon their return with hopes that it will offer insights into the short and long term impact of climate change on the region.

When he sets out in two weeks you’ll be able to follow Parker’s progress via his website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. It should be quite an expedition for the young man.

Kiwi sailor sets new speed record for crossing the Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage has often been a source of endless fascination amongst sailors. For centuries Explorers searched for the route, hoping to find a faster, more efficient, way to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic by sailing through the Arctic, north of Canada. For most of that time, that route was sealed shut thanks to endless miles of ice, but in recent years, warmer temperatures have allowed the route to open to ship traffic for the first time, which has caused a number of daring souls to challenge those treacherous waters.

Amongst the ships making the journey this year was the Astral Express, captained by Graeme Kendall out of New Zealand. Kendall was hoping to complete the voyage that he first attempted back in 2005, but was forced to abandon thanks to thick pack ice. This year, the Kiwi not only finished what he started five years ago, he set a new record in the process.

Kendall’s journey began when he entered the Passage at Lancaster Sound, along the Atlantic side, back on August 27th. It then took him just 12 days to navigate the route to Barrow, Alaska, finishing on Sept. 9th, officially exiting the Passage on to the Pacific side. Those 12 days represent a new speed record for the fastest solo crossing of the passage, and local authorities believe that it may be the fastest of any ship, including those with a full crew.

For Kendall, completing the Northwest Passage is just the first stage of a planned circumnavigation attempt of the planet, which will cover more than 18,000 miles when it is finished.

[Photo credit: Graeme Kendall]