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Friday Apr 21 2006
!5.30. Fiona spoke to Mike, who had just arrived with the party back in Spitzbergen. The flight from Borneo was easy today, as the clouds had cleared. Mike did say that Borneo Base had now drifted back into the 88th degree. They were busy packing up their kit and sledges so that these could return by freight carrier. They hope to leave Spitzbergen on Sunday morning about 08.00.

Photo. Antonov 74 with full landing flap, braking hard using reverse thrust, on the ice runway at Borneo.
Thursday Apr 20 2006
Photo. Coming to pick us up.

19.45 BST. Team awaiting flight to Spitzbergen. Unfortunately visibility is poor, so there is no guarantee of a definite flight time. Good news is that they are all well.
Wednesday Apr 19 2006
15.35BST. We have arrived at the North Pole. 90.00.000N 00.00.000E.

Andrew, Barry, Vince, Will and I are elated, all in good health and celebrating with sloe gin supplied by Jane and Charles. Imogens bear Sizzle is with us at the top of the world.

We came out of the complex ice after the first hour this morning. It was easy going after that, although we did have to cross two black ice leads. This feels like walking on rubber and it bends as you step on it........Will just avoided a swim. We travelled North along the International Date Line, left foot in Today, and right foot in Yesterday. We are at a safe spot, and have set up camp to have a meal. We expect to leave here by helicopter this evening about 20.00hrs for Borneo, flying back to Spitzbergen sometime tomorrow.

This has been a hard trip, but absolutely brilliant. We have experienced everything, EXCEPT extreme cold. There is much evidence here to support the worlds fears about global warming.

Photo. Which ever way you go it is SOUTH.
Tuesday Apr 18 2006
Position 89.54N. 171.10 W Over Alaska.

We set off at 10.00hrs and walked for ten hours, covering seven N. miles. We have been picking our way through an extremely complex area of ice rubble, ice towers, pressure ridges and leads. Most of the leads were covered with thin ice so we managed to cross them with care. A scary moment occurred when we were trying to negotiate a pressure ridge which decided to move. We ended up by skiing across it while it heaved and cracked.Fortunately the weather has been kind to us, cold enough to freeze minor leads, and we have seen a lot of sun with occasional fog banks rolling in and out. I have been to Polar regions before but have never seen such devastation as this recent storm caused. We could have pushed on a bit further but we are tired after our hard day and to continue might have affected our concentration, not a risk we could afford in a supremely hostile environment. We are camped on a small pan and regrouping ready for tomorrows challenge. From what we can see it looks pretty much as if we are in for another hard day. We just hope and pray that the weather holds, things change so quickly up here, there are no guarantees. Inspite of our long and tiring day, we have enjoyed every minute of it.
Monday Apr 17 2006
Position 89.47N. 173.4E.

Poor contrast this morning, but the sun came out this afternoon and it was calm. For the first time we have not had difficult conditions. As a result of the helicopter catastrophe, some of our tent poles are bent at an angle of 45 degrees and we have holes in the tent walls but it is not a problem. The temperature is about minus 12 C. and we have plenty of fuel. Barry has a bit of frostnip on his hands caused by being blasted out of the tent by the helicopter downdraft, but it isnt serious and he will be OK. Tomorrow promises to be a challenging day looking at the chaotic ice in front of us. We shall go steadily and hope to reach the Pole late on Wednesday if all goes well. We are a good team and are moving at a good pace. Love to family and friends.

Helicopter downwash....everybody turns away.
Sunday Apr 16 2006
Position 89.37.5N. !72.5E.

All well. Call came in very late Sunday evening. Borneo base phoned Mike Saturday night to say that other groups travelling North could not manage the leads, so would they like to be airlifted to 89.50 to make the journey easier. Group decided to hold till morning to give new leads a chance to freeze. They did freeze overnight, so Group decided to continue on foot. They soon discovered that Thursdays storm had left a scene like bomb damage.......great blocks of ice had been thrown everywhere, and there were many cracks and leads. After 11 hrs walking, 7.5 miles,.... thankfully the Southerly drift has decreased considerably. After we had camped, a large helicopter dropped by, and literally blew us away.....it landed so close to camp that the rotor downdraft flattened the tents, scattered the sledges, and knocked us off our feet. It took well over an hour to sort ourselves out, and patch up the damaged tents. At 23.00 we have still not eaten, so that is the next task. We are comfortable again, and ready for tomorrows challenges. What a day.
Saturday Apr 15 2006
Position 89.31N 167.4E.

Fog all day and no wind. Without wind it becomes very difficult to navigate. The southerly drift continues, but has slowed a little. We encountered a massive lead which we managed to navigate by means of a series of ice pontoons. The sky is what we term a water sky indicating large areas of open water. We had intended to travel for longer today, but we have come up against yet another large lead preventing travel northwards. We have walked east to try and find a suitable place to cross, but at present we have had no success. As it has been a long day, it was decided to set up camp and hope that the temperature, minus 21C might come to our aid and freeze some of the open water overnight. We are well.

Photo. The beauty of ice crystals.
Friday Apr 14 2006
89.27.5N 170.17E.

Drifted back 2.5 nm last night, with a southerly drift of 0.2kts hr., and it does not take a genius to work out why our progress is so slow. However we have had a super day with reasonable conditions. We had to cross two significant leads of approx. 25 metres wide by breaking ice and rafting across. Barry managed to put his foot in the water at one point. Inspite of poor visibility, we have good video footage. Tonight the temperature is minus 6C,....unbelievably warm for this time of the year. If conditions are good tomorrow, we shall extend our walking day to try to recover some lost mileage. Everyone is well, and in good spirits.

Photo. Rough going.
Thursday Apr 13 2006
89.25N 170.10E

After speaking last night, a storm blew up gusting Force 9, and it took all of us to erect the tent. The savagery of the wind opened up leads all around us, and the noise of the cracking ice was remarkable. We set off at 10.00hrs in poor contrast, making complicated areas of ice difficult to negotiate. There were lots of cracks and many small leads, two of which we had to raft across. The temperatures here are bizarre, minus 18C this morning and a balmy minus 9C tonight. Including the negative drift, our progress is slow, just 3 miles again. At present it is calm with light snow. Individual snowflakes are wonderful to see with their amazing shapes. All in all an interesting day, and we are all well.

Photo. Hauling sledge over ice rubble.
Wednesday Apr 12 2006
19.00. Position 89.25.40N 170.18E.

Very windy gusting 30kts today, making the ice drift 0.4kts SSE each hour and making tent erecting difficult. We started in sunshine with the temp.at minus 21C, but now overcast and the temp. has risen to minus 9C. We had to raft across a wide lead, and then came to a large area of ice rubble. Despite starting at 09.45 and walking till 18.10, we only covered 3 n.miles. All in good spirits but weary.

Photo. We broke off a piece of ice to act as a raft to cross a lead.
Tuesday Apr 11 2006
19.00hrs Position 89.22N 167E

Team have covered 5 nautical miles today. There is negative easterly drift with a slight southerly component, meaning that we drifted back about a mile overnight. Weather conditions have been poor,windy -force 5 -with marginal visibility. Surface conditions however, have been terrific in spite of one rather complicated lead which was eventually negotiated. Although the terrain makes travelling tough, both Andrew and Vince have expressed todays experience as absolutely superb. All well and happy.

Photo. Ice pans surrounded by openwater leads from the air.
Monday Apr 10 2006
09.00 BST. Mike called to say that last nights take off was cancelled due to bad weather at Borneo, so they slept last night on the hostel floor as all the rooms were taken. Currently waiting at the Longyearbyen airport for a fine weather slot. The flight will take 2.5 to 3hrs flying to reach Borneo. Yesterday pilots reported a lot of open water between Borneo and the N. Pole, but circumstances change very quickly up here. The waiting has had the benefit of us getting to know each other very well, so we are gelled as a team. Bring it on. More later today.

12.45. BST Team in the Russian Antonov ready for take off, everyone very excited. As the ice conditions are unstable, it has been decided to start the trek from Borneo itself rather than further south as originally planned.This means that the trek is not technically the last degree. In order to walk a full degree, the team are hoping to cross the Pole and complete their journey in Canadian territory. This decision is the result of a team discussion and the Russian pilots are agreeable to the change of plan. In Polar regions nothing is set in stone or ice for that matter.

Photo. Hostel at Spitzbergen.

Stop Press As the team were about to leave, communications failed in the Spitzbergen control tower. The matter was resolved by the loan of a satellite phone. Whatever next
Monday Apr 10 2006
Landed safely on a very short runway. We have made a start by walking for an hour, covering 1.25miles. Our current position is 89.17N 158.80E. Conditions were overcast with poor contrast but the sun is out now and it is relatively warm at minus10C. We only need one stove on in the tent which is unusual. Flying in, we saw a few small leads, but nothing major. We are about to have dinner and settle down for the night. All being well. we shall get up at 07.00hrs and continue northwards. We are all well and in good spirits.

Photo. Antonov AN 74TK-100, Nato codenamed Coaler at Borneo 2005. Designed for use in adverse weather conditions in polar regions, the two huge jets also blow air over the flaps for STOL using the Coanda effect. Reverse thrust is used for braking on ice runways. Mike says the acceleration on takeoff is truly awesome, as is the noise when stopping.
Sunday Apr 09 2006
Confirmation that the team will be taking off for Borneo at 11pm tonight. Delay has been caused by the difficulty in setting up a suitable runway on Borneo. Ice conditions in the region are unusual this year. Temperature at the Pole is minus14C today. Everyone is ready and confident. On arrival in Borneo, the team may well spend the rest of the night sleeping under Russian canvas.

Love to family and friends .
Photo. Spitzbergen.
Saturday Apr 08 2006
What a relief. Everyone in Spitzbergen at last attending to final bits of shopping and otherdetails. They were warmly welcomed at the hostel by their hosts and by an American team. More news later today.

Sledges have been packed, and fuel collected. It would seem that take off for Ice Station Borneo is scheduled for Sunday pm. Unfortunately, Barrys skis together with Michaels skis have been lost in transit. However the problem has been resolved by a very kind Australian guy who has lent two pairs of his skis to our intrepid duo. Temperature in Spitzbergen is a balmy +2C and at the Pole it is minus 4C. Last year at this time it was minus40C. There is a lot of open water and the challenge is on.
Photo. Sledges ready. All photos by Mike Thornewill 2005.
Friday Apr 07 2006
08.15 British time

Mike, Vince,Andrew and Will awaiting standby flight to Spitzbergen via Tromso.

Barry and Joanna at Oslo awaiting flight to Tromso.

Last night was spent sleepless in the airport. Apparently S A S are on strike for an indefinite period.

10.40hrs. Against all odds and after a great deal of hassle, the team are now on their way to Spitzbergen. More details later.

12.30hrs. All together now at Tromso. Flying on to Spitzbergen. ETA 14.50 BST (15.50 Norwegian)
Thursday Apr 06 2006
STOP PRESS. Thursday evening

Brief call from Michael 19.40 hrs. Barry and Joanna are stranded in Oslo. Michael and rest of team are stranded in Copenhagen. This is due to strike action. No further information at the moment.
Thursday Apr 06 2006
April 6th 2006. Nottingham. Here we are again, ready for the off, on this years 2006 North Pole last degree expedition. So who is on the team. Well we have:

BARRY HARPER 47yrs. Barry lives in Nottinghamshire, is married with two daughters and in his day job is a Police Inspector. He is a keen runner and having failed to walk all the last degree to reach the North Pole last year because of difficult ice conditions, this year he is determined to succeed.

VINCE KORDULA 40 yrs. Vince is married to Sarah, living in Woodborough and is an accountant. He decided it was high time he undertook a major life time challenge and so not only will he attempt to walk the North Pole Last Degree, but later in the year, the last 112 miles to the South Pole also, as part of our Shackletons Unfinished Journey expedition. With no real outdoor experience, this is a bold dual challenge.

From British Columbia in Canada, we have JOANNA KAFAROWSKI 43yrs. Joanna has for many years studied the Arctic and sampled its culture. This time Joanna wants to go a stage further and experience what it is like to live outdoors and travel on the Arctic Ocean itself.

Closer to home we have ANDREW PEARCE 42 yrs. Andrew lives near Grantham in Lincolnshire and works in real estate and is married to Catherine. He enjoys keeping fit, shooting and travel, although we are hoping not to need his firearm skills. Finally living on the South coast of England.

WILL THOMAS 35 yrs. Will lives with his partner Ann, and in his day job he too is a Police Officer. Will is a black belt in Tae kwon do and being 6 feet 5 and very powerful is not a man we are going to fall out with... Will has travelled to the Arctic once before where he tried his hand at dog driving, but this time he wants to make a journey on the Ocean. All the team are excited and up for the challenge. So now its off to Heathrow by mini bus and our next instalment will be from Spitzbergen some 400 miles north of Norway where we will make our final preparations for the lonely journey north...
Wednesday Apr 05 2006
Today we are still packing.
Tuesday Apr 04 2006
Today we are packing big time.