North Pole Info
The NORTH POLE also known as the Geographic North Pole is the northernmost point on our planet. It should not be confused with the Magnetic North Pole which is a 'movable' point & which is currently somewhere way off the ice cap, 400 miles from the Geographic North Pole. I'm heading for the Geo North Pole.
The South Pole lies in the middle of a continental land mass which is covered in ice that is 2.8kms deep at the Pole itself. With the South Pole is at an elevation of 2800mts above sea level & taking the increased air pressure at this most southerly point into account, the relative altitude is closer to 3600mts above sea level & altitude sickness is a real problem for many people taking on a Last Degree expedition. When you finally arrive at the South Pole there is the incredible 'space station' that is the American Science Foundation's 'Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station' there in front of the Pole. There are up to 250 people working at the station during the season & you do get to meet them & see what is going on. Although, I do think I'd have preferred to arrive Amundsen or Scott style, to the barren emptiness that was the North Pole when they arrived.
The North Pole has no such problems (it has plenty of others unique to itself!). The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, admittedly an ocean whose waters are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice. To reach the North Pole you have to travel across the frozen sea ice & deal with all the dangers that are inherent to the area. When you get to the North Pole there is nothing there to indicate you've arrived because whilst the exact position is fixed by the axis of the earth, the ice around it is shifting therefore no permanent structure can be built there.
The sea depth at the North Pole is 4,261mts / 13,980ft & the nearest land, the islands off Greenland, are 700kms away.
The Arctic Ocean is the most humid place on the planet, damper & wetter than any rain forest & this causes huge difficulties with polar travel.
North Pole - Discovery & Early Expeditions.
I'm not going to open another debate about the much disputed facts surrounding who was first to reach the North Pole. Since the mid 1800's expeditions have attempted to reach 90 Degrees North & this is just a few snapshots.
1908 - Fredrick Albert Cook CLAIMED to have reached the North Pole, but failed to provide adequate proof.
1909 - Robert Peary claimed to have reached the Pole but again this could not be proved without doubt & remains in dispute to this day.
1969 - Sir Wally Herbert & his team became the men to reach the pole on foot but with dogs & air resupplies. This is only 50 years ago & we put men on the moon the same year!
From then on there have been some remarkable expeditions undertaken & some incredible records set. It has really only been in the last 10-15 years that expeditions have been able to be staged on a commercial basis & prior to that it was only the big nationally or blue chip sponsored expeditions that could justify the cost of Arctic polar travel.
It should be noted here that Tom & Tina Sjogren who head up humanedgetech.com / thepoles.com & who are the people that provide the high tech communications kits for my polar trips along with almost everyone else including the Everest climbing teams, reached the North Pole on 29 May 2002, 69 days after leaving Ward Hunt Island, the most common jumping off point for the North Pole. Tom is a serious serial extreme adventurer, having also reached the South Pole from Hercules Inlet & he also summited Everest. He's an unusual Swede in that he actually has a good sense of humour & is a good decent bloke who looks after his mother very well. He has provided me with plenty of 'techie' help by email & over Skype. (He might reduce his invoice now that I've given him a good plug!)
The BBC's Top Gear team did NOT drive to the Geographic North Pole in 2007 in their specially adapted Toyota 4 x 4's. They went to the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole, which at that time wasn't too far off the Canadian 'coast' line.
I may get time to go into some of the more extraordinary exploits at a later stage.
There are links to various sites covering stuff on the North Pole under the 'Links' section.