Arctic explorer Pen Hadow trekked, and swam, from Ward Hunt Island to the North Pole in 2003. Solo and unsupported. He plans to return to the North Pole this summer, but on this occasion he’ll be sailing with a few companions. According to yesterday’s Sunday Times:
The time has come to start speculating about if, and when, the Northwest Passage will become navigable for the host of small vessels eager to traverse it this summer. The west and east entrances are clearing early this year. Lancaster Sound and Prince Regent inlet already reveal only a few area of white amongst the deep blue open water:
According to the expedition’s web site those 2 degrees of latitude are symbolic of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreement in Paris to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels”, and are thus part of the expedition’s name.
To get back to good old Blighty they are going to have to brave the North Atlantic in Autumn. Some stormy weather is likely! We’re currently keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Karl, who has just left Bermuda in his wake and is forecast to reach hurricane strength before heading off across the North Atlantic:
The BBC Radio 4 Today programme broadcast another one of their regular updates on the progress of the Polar Ocean Challenge expedition. On this occasion they were able to interview David Hempleman-Adams, the leader of the expedition. That’s because David disembarked from the yacht Northabout at Upernavik in Greenland:
The Polar Ocean Challenge team issued a press release last night. This is what it said:
The Polar Ocean Challenge successfully completed their quest to sail the North East Passage and North West Passage in one season. The North West Passage was completed in an astonishing 14 days due to the fact that it was almost totally ice free. They encountered ice only twice in their 1800 mile NW Passage part of the voyage. This highlights an extraordinary loss of sea ice in the Arctic in the 30 years that David Hempleman-Adams has been coming to the area. He said, ‘whilst we are all delighted to have succeeded, it is extremely worrying to see this lack of ice so starkly‘ The objective of the expedition was to raise awareness of the change in the fragile climate in the Arctic. They left Lancaster Sound at the end of the NW Passage at 19.18 UTC on 12th September and are headed for Greenland.
After the briefest of stops in Elson Lagoon behind Point Barrow Northabout is on the move once again:
She’s currently heading out into the Beaufort Sea before following in the giant footsteps of the cruise liner Crystal Serenity in the direction of the Amundsen Gulf and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Here’s the United States National Weather Service’s current ice chart for Alaskan waters:
David Scott Cowper in Polar Bound is currently approaching the eastern entrance to Bellot Strait in the heart of the Northwest Passage. There’s nothing unusual in that in this day and age, you may think, but take a look at how he got there:
We first mentioned the cruise ship Crystal Serenity in our initial musings about prospects for the Northwest Passage in 2016. Since then the sea ice has melted on a variety of the “southern” routes through the Northwest Passage, and the Crystal Serenity has now set sail for the Arctic. Amongst the over 1000 passengers there is even a blogger: