On 14th March 1895, two explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen left their icebound ship Fram and set out on skies for the North Pole. They didn’t make it to the pole, but their journey became one of the most epics, what polar history has ever seen. After latitude 86°14′ North they abandoned the attempt and retreat southwards, eventually reaching Franz Josef Land. Yet, the one of the initial plans was to reach land north of Svalbard, somewhere to the Seven Islands (Sjuøyane). This would have become better choice if these two would have make it to the pole.
“But let’s say, return trip takes 50 days. If everything has gone well, we set the course to Seven Islands, north of Spitsbergen…”
Two friends, Audun Tholfsen and Timo Palo, now have a dream to take this scenario number two – if…these two brave men would have tried to return back to the Spitsbergen. After being air dropped at the geographical North Pole, we will face to south and have to get back home. Like Nansen and his so called “burning bridges” strategy would have said: there is no way back, but only forward (Fram)! We hope to make it to the first land within 50 days. On the land of Nordaustlandet (northeast island of the archipelago) we have placed out depot, after what we will continue towards the south until to Longyearbyen (the biggest settlement in Svalbard). We prepare for about 1400 kilometers before seeing home, but ice drift and weather can unpredictably change it.
A post from their blog after 2 weeks into the journey:
Last about 5 days we have had a bit better terrain. Some days we gathered 20 km. In these two weeks we had 2 stormy weathers also: no visibility outside, we sat in the tent waiting for better weather conditions. After the stormdays ice is much better for skiing and pulling kayaks. Seems that ice is younger and bit thinner now. No more such high iceridges: near the Pole there were many of them, several meters high and it was very time consuming to cross. We met some leads of open water also. In most cases we found bridges to get over them (over one lead we kayaked).
Timo and Audun
You can read more from their website: www.arcticreturntour.com
Some photos of the preparations: