THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

North Pole Expedition

The Expedition

The NORTH POLE Expedition began at Borneo Base, a temporary camp set up on the drifting ice of the Arctic Ocean, and covered a distance of 100 km through one of the least explored places on Earth. The challenge was to overcome the extreme conditions to successfully cross the Arctic Continent to the Last Degree within a time frame of one month.

The mode of movement during the Expedition was skiing and walking while pulling a sledge carrying 60kg of food and essential equipment for communications, research and survival.

The Arctic North Pole

The geographic NORTH POLE rests on massive, shifting sheets of polar ice surrounded by the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean. This last frontier of the extreme wilderness exists in total silence, the nearest land mass located more than 800 km away.

The average temperature measured in the Arctic is – 45 oC. While the Arctic Ocean lacks the extreme cold and high winds of the Antarctic Continent, there are storms instead that cause ice drift, the ice sometimes moving up to 20 km in a single night.

This ever-changing landscape poses many dangers in the form of ice floes and other ice formations such as pressure ridges, rubble and open water leads. These features and other hazards such as snowstorms or "whiteout" will also make it difficult to maintain direction.

In order to minimize navigational problems, it will be necessary to identify "waypoints" far on the horizon to use as a guide so as not to get lost. A technique known as "scouting" will also be used, which involves climbing up to the top of an ice ridge prior to travel in order to have a feel for the terrain and avoid large ridges and leads.

Problems Unique to the NORTH POLE

1. Dense fog (gray and dull blanket of damp air)
2. Fast ice/screw ice (solid, packed ice – old sastrugies)
3. Thin and dangerous ice (commonly black, and can fall through)
4. Storms and blizzards (can break up the ice into open water leads)
5. Full moon (brings on high tide and rising ocean water and leads to breaking ice)
6. Black skies (shadows in the sky reflecting mirages that create illusions)
7. The Phenomenon (halos and diamond dust that precede bad weather, creating whiteouts that cause loss of depth perception)

Polar explorer Datin Paduka Sharifah Mazlina Syed Abdul Kadir has made it to the “top of the world.” She reached her destination at 90 degrees North at 2.25pm (8.25pm Malaysian time) in a day of clear sunny skies, according to a report posted on her website last night.