Tag Archives: north pole

To the Pole – to meet 11 heroic souls!

Why do folks go to the North or South Pole?

One reason is… actually – no specific reason at all; just to go because… why not? To stand at the top or bottom of the world is just kinda cool.

Another reason: just the extremeness of it all. Some folks prefer a total lack of extremity: comfort, sun, beach, nice home/hotel, all the mod cons. Others are bored by comfort, but they like extreme contrasts between extremity and comfort ).

Another: some folks just follow their instinctual urge to ski and then walk to a pole over several days – only it won’t be ‘several days’, as a polar day can last five months!

Another: surely, some kinda crazy polar magnetism that attracts certain folks!

In the past, there was another reason: to get to a Pole first.

Regarding the South Pole, around 1910-11, two expeditions – Amundsen‘s and Scott‘s – made it to the South Pole, the former pipping the latter to the post pole! The Norwegians made it back too. The Brits, tragically, did not; a sad, yet heroic, tale. Macabrely, to this day, the Terra Nova Expeditioners still lie there, in their tents, long since gobbled up by the Antarctic ice (specifically – and even more gruesomely – under more than 20 meters of snow, and shifted by the glacier ~50 kilometers over 100+ years).

But regarding the North Pole, hmmm… I couldn’t recall who made it there first, so I had to look it up. Well, there are many claims to reaching it first, but the first undisputed one is that of a Soviet expedition in April 1948, i.e., 36 years after the South Pole! Btw, other expeditions soon after followed the Soviets’ lead, while the South Pole waited a full 44 years until it was to be visited by another expedition.

So, it turns out getting to the North Pole is harder than getting to the South Pole. Interesting. The Antarctic climate is much fiercer than the Arctic one, but crossing the firmly compacted snow underfoot in Antarctica is a lot simpler than crossing the loose, fluffy snow of the Arctic. Then there are the fissures in the Arctic ice you have to somehow navigate. There’s also the shorter window in the Arctic for getting to it – before the ice starts melting. In Antarctica there’s no danger of ice melting and merging with the ocean below it – there’s a whole terra-firma continent underfootice ).

Read on…

Arctic or Antarctic?… The answers.

Hi folks!

As promised, herewith, my answers to Thursday’s polar quiz questions:

Ok, first – my answers to those four non-visual questions:

Question 1: How do you get to the North Pole?

Answer A: The simplest and cheapest method:

Buy a plane ticket from Dubai to Seattle or San Francisco. These routes fly real close to the Geographic North Pole. I believe the route Anchorage-Frankfurt (on Condor) also still does too (I flew it back in 2013, but I was sleeping around the time of the near-polar-flyover). While back in the mid-nineties there was a direct Aeroflot flight between Moscow and San Francisco, and they even gave out ‘flown over the North Pole’ certificates!

Answer B: Another, more expensive, way of getting to the North Pole – this time actually right to it, up close and personal freezing – is on one of the regular expeditions organized by the Russian company VICAAR.

Those two gents in the above pic are Victor Boyarskiy and Leonid Plenkin, who escort you up to the North Pole if you decide to go with VICAAR. Btw, that photo was taken in an Antonov An-74, en route from Svalbard to Barneo; from Barneo to the North Pole you take a helicopter.

Read on: another simple way …

Photo-quiz: where were these pics taken – the Arctic or Antarctica?

Hi Folks!

As promised, herewith, a rewind back to all things polar… – but with a twist. It’s not a full-on description of what I was doing recently up at the North Pole, or why; that, I’m sure (if I do ever get some free time, finally!), will come later.

No, this post is a bit of fun. Why fun? Because I’ve been on the road for three weeks now, visited 10 counties/territories in the process, and think I – and by extension you – need a little fun. (And I need to get home fast too to recharge my batteries, catch up on sleep, and lower the levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream.)

So, fun?…

Yes: for this here post is a quiz. Just that in itself is a twist (since when has a whole post of mine been nothing but a quiz?). But there’s more twistiness: it’s a purely visual quiz – as in, all questions relate to photographs (taken be me). No wordy brainteasers.

Ok, now, the word in bold above gives the game away to some extent as to what these pics are of (and, thus – what this quiz is about), but, and here’s even more twistiness: it just so happens that this quiz, based on these pics, isn’t just about the North Pole. It’s also about the South Pole, since, handily, I’ve been to both. And since I don’t know many folks who have been to both the top and the bottom of the world – and in fact none who are also photography freaks like me – well, I thought I’d capitalize on this rare lucky combination and have a bit of fun with it. Crikey, that’s a long intro to explain just what this post is about!

Ok, long explanation over, let me put it another, laconic, way: this is a visual quiz where you have to work out where all the following pics are taken: near the North Pole in the Arctic, or near the South Pole in Antarctica. That’s it! (What could be simpler?:)

Oops, nearly forgot: there are four non-visual questions in this quiz too. They are:

  1. How do you get to the North Pole?
  2. How do you get to the South Pole?
  3. Why would you want to get to the North Pole?
  4. Why would you want to get to the South Pole?

I’ve quite a few different answers to those four (they’ll come in a later post), but I’m just curious as to what you might come up with. Maybe your answers would be way cooler than mine?

Anyway, without much more of ado, let’s get this polar quiz started:

  1. To start with, two of my fave polar pics. No guessing needed for these two; they’re just a warm-up:

    Btw: you won’t believe how far those mountains in the background on both pics are. Ok, you can guess those distances too ).

Read on…

Polar-tropical contrasts.

Hi boys and girls!

Been a while, I know, but I’m back – and with loads of on-the-road tales to recount that have piled up…

Right now I’m in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, which is fitting: I’ve seen a lot of airport terminals just recently, but I haven’t had enough time in the departures lounges to keep up with events as they’ve been happening – as they’ve been happening so fast and furious and frequently and non-stop. I’ll at least make a start with some catch-up here…

I really should start where this recent spot of globetrotting began a few weeks ago – heading to the North Pole! But… Since I still don’t see much free time on the horizon for extensive travelogue writing and photo editing, I’ll settle for just this one interim post for now to keep things bobbing along on this here blog, and it will have to be a relatively brief one (I’ll do the proper catch-up a bit later once I get home). It’s one about some mind-boggling contrasts I’ve seen over the last few days…

Now, returning from one of the earth’s poles back to civilization is always a bit lot of a shock to the senses. From a place where there is literally nothing but cold, ice, snow and blue sky, to a place where there is warmth, no snow or ice; supermarkets, roads, pubs, offices, Wi-Fi, drinkable tap water and all the rest of civilization’s better features… well, you get the picture: it’s always going to blow the mind a touch and take some time to acclimatize…

Read on…

11 brave women skiing to the North Pole.

‘Headlong to the North Pole’ would have been a suitable alternative title. ‘Ladies go north’ another. And they’re going to the northernmost north – there is no further north!

I can imagine some of you, dear regular readers, might be a bit confused by mention here of the North Pole, since I’ve just finished a mini-series on mid-Pacific islands like Fiji and Tahiti. But no, I haven’t got the equator and the North Pole mixed up in my post-intense-tourism haze; this is for real…

The (Ant)Arctic theme began way back in 2009. That’s when we met Felicity Aston and went on to support her all-woman Antarctic group expedition to the South Pole (details in my book New Year at the South Pole!). Three years later, again with our support, she went one further and skied coast to coast across Antarctica – on her own! – covering almost 1800km over 60 days.

Fast forward to 2018, and here she goes again – but this time to the other pole – the one up at the top of the world in the Arctic!

Read on…