Expeditions To The North Pole

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Expeditions to the North Pole fire up the imaginations of travelers who are looking for something different than a European tour. To sail through the Northwest Passage, or to ski to the North Pole--these are journeys that follow historic routes. Floki Vilgerdarson discovered Iceland in about 870; Erik the Red discovered Greenland in 983.

In every century following these dates, explorers from many countries made attempts to penetrate the frozen Arctic Ocean to find a sea route from Europe to Asia. They tried over and over again to reach the North Pole without success until 1909. Today, North Pole icebreakers routinely carry passengers to within skiing distance of the sign designating the North Pole, so they can be photographed at the exact spot.

Expeditions to the North Pole for Skiers

At 89 degrees lies Borneo, a base camp for those making their final approach to the Pole. Located on the drifting pack ice of the Arctic Ocean at 55 nautical miles south of the North Pole, Borneo is a Russian station with a migrating airstrip! The airstrip usually moves two or three nautical miles a day, but it has been known to wander up to 15 miles a day. Needless to say, keeping track of navigation is critical, because every time a plane comes in for a landing, the camp and airport have moved along!

The purpose of Borneo is to assist visitors on expeditions to the North Pole to get safely to and from that location. Visitors arrive by large turboprop or jet planes; two enormous helicopters are stationed at Borneo to shuttle visitors back and forth from the Pole. There are sky divers who want to jump onto the Pole, and scuba divers who want to ice dive under it. Most want to ski the last 30-60 miles to reach the Pole, and for these expeditions to the North Pole, Borneo can be a lifesaver.

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