Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Global Warming My Ass

Last year, some Warmies got in sea kayaks to float/paddle to the North Pole, or as close as they could get. Although it was Summer, it was freakin' cold and they kept getting frozen in. They quit after a short time when it was clear that, despite other Warmie predictions, not all the sea ice had melted and there was just no open water for their intended travels. They barely got to 80 degrees.

This year, three Warmie Brits, Pen Hadow, Ann Daniels and Martin Hartley, set out (in Winter!) to trek to the North Pole schlepping along a portable radar unit to measure the thickness of the sea ice. They thought that it would take 90 days. When they first got to the Arctic they were ecstatic. "Welcome to the High Arctic at 75 degrees North. We love it." (Emphasis added).

Then they were dropped of in the middle of nowhere. It was a hard slog through day 6 but they made some distance (about 1% of the way) but since then things have gone poorly. The ice has drifted south, so as hard and far as they travel (not that far compared to earlier explorers), they were, on day 12, not even to the day 6 point of greatest advance, and now that it's day 18, they are further from the Pole than they were on day 12. Now the real bitching and moaning starts in.

It was my birthday on Tuesday.
What a way to spend it - 500 miles from the North Pole, floating on a raft of sea ice that is breaking up to the north of us, a polar bear plodding around close by and running out of food.
The resupply plane is now several days late. I know they've tried three times and the weather has stopped them, so we are now down to half rations.

But the ambient temperature inside (sic) the tent is -40C, the inside of the tent is like an ice cavern.
I've got frostbite in my toes, my sleeping bag is full of ice and the supposedly hot food ends up like a roofing tile in seconds!
The best way to keep warm is to stay in your sleeping bag - but when that's full of camera cables as well as ice it makes for pretty uncomfortable sleeping.

I really don't wish them ill. I hope they give up and are rescued soon, but there seems to be a slight bit of disconnect between the Warmie beliefs and the cold hard facts of the Arctic climate.

The Warmies come off as fatuous clowns.

UPDATE: There was an earlier attempt to walk to the North Pole that was nipped in the bud two years ago. A friend called the current attempt brave. I still call these people showboaters, at best. I say end the suffering of the Catlin 3 now, bring them home.

UPDATE 2: Although Ms. Daniels is quoting a Robert Service poem about suicide and Mr. Hartley has called the expedition extremely cold and hard, they have been resupplied and are pushing on. Even if we go by the first 6 days' rate of advance, it looks like over a year until they reach the Pole. They say by May. Well, maybe. I have to note that these guys probably know what they're doing. Hadow walked alone in 2003 from Canada to the Pole without resupply That's impressive. He did the same at the South Pole, which is even more impressive as it's even colder there. Daniels has made the trips as part of teams to both Poles. Hartley has been around the Poles 19 times. I feel better about their chances now. These are not naive tyros; but the fact that, less than three weeks into it, they are semi-despairing, and sounding like Scott's ill fated team in 1912, shows just how difficult it is for men and women to live between 80 and 90 degrees latitude. It looks like they just had a run of bad luck with the weather and the fact that it was really, really cold, like negative forty Celsius. Who would have imagined that it would be so cold in late Winter in the Arctic?

UPDATE 3: They tell you how far they've gone, and how long they've been on the ice and they even have a daily average of distance traveled. Right now it's 1.42 km/day with 929 km to go to the Pole. I reckon they're going to have to pick up the pace a bit because at that rate they'll be nearing the pole early-January, 2011, just 19 months behind schedule. Well, if anyone can pick up the pace, it will be these guys, all in their 40s.

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If you ever want to read about the abject misery of Arctic exploration, read The Terror by Dan Simmons. It's a fictionalized (horror story) account of the very real HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, two British ships that attempted to find the Northwest Passage in the mid-1800s. Both ships became ice-bound, and there were no survivors. But it took three years of Arctic conditions to kill the last of them off.

The author used journals and logs and unsent letters home which were found during later recovery efforts to describe the conditions these poor souls struggled with.

Oh,'s the Wikipedia article on the subject.
I did read The Terror and liked it a lot (except for the monster) The real suffering on that expedition was simply unimaginable. Simmons wrote about spoiled food, but I was led to believe that the solder on the cans gave the crew lead poisoning so that they did very strange things. I'm making fun of these three but I really feel sorry for them. Hope they quit soon.
I saw a documentary about three different teams that were trying to make an unassisted walk to the north pole from various different points on land. Basically hauling all their supplies with them.

It was horrific. One dude went blind, lost his nose, and the other team made it first. Imagine pulling a sled with 60 days of supplies over the arctic ice.

Maybe if these people had seen the same film....
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