Fresh bear prints are in the neighborhood of our team’s campsite. Interesting …
Our Polar Experience North Pole team completed a remarkable 19.2 kilometers today, leaving them with approximately 39 kilometers to reach 90°North.
The last 24 hours were the most charged of the entire expedition. Yesterday our team was forced to bid goodbye to a 2nd participant, Philippe Delpy. Philippe had signs of frostbite on his hands and was physically completely depleted, thus leading to his prudent decision to remove himself from the expedition. The unrelenting cold temperatures are allowing for no break in vigilance regarding frostbite or potential hypothermia, and the rest of our team continues to monitor themselves and each other very closely.
This morning our team awakened to overcast skies and increased winds which suddenly brought the first snowfall of this expedition. The approximately 2 mm of snow created an outstanding glide on the previously grainy surface which allowed our team to advance more efficiently than ever before. Even though they struggled through poor visibility this morning, they were treated to a gorgeous sun halo (‘sun dog”) at around noon. Soon after, the skies cleared and they moved forward without much wasted motion.
Near the end of the day, the team encountered two open leads (breaks in the ice that expose the ocean’s water) and with those leads came the paw prints of the polar bears. Dixie estimates that the bears have moved east of their campsite, but he is completely prepared to defend his team with guns if the worst case scenario would happen. They also have a flare gun to scare away a bear and have established their camp to prohibit a bear’s visit. Dixie has had experience with curious bears before, and his ultimate goal is to scare the animals away without ever firing a shot in their direction.
Their new camp position:
N 89° 38′ 49
E 129° 34’ 56
Pavel Sehnal, our sole remaining male participant, left tonight’s audio message:
It will come as no surprise that Evelyne, Marin, Pavel and Dixie will sleep lightly tonight. Despite their exhaustion, they are aware of a possible nocturnal visit and this of course has everyone on edge.
The good news is that they are oh-so-close to their destination.
The excitement continues to build!