American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North Pole, Two Expeditions to the North Pole

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

Two Expeditions to the North Pole. In 1978 Japanese Naomi Uemura reached the North Pole alone with a dog team. He was resupplied by air. He was airlifted back to his base. That same year other Japanese led by Kaneshige Ikeda also sledged to the North Pole. In 1986 five men and a woman made the journey with dog teams but without resupply. At the same time Frenchman Dr. Jean- Louis Etienne hauled his sled alone to the Pole but he was resupplied five times by air. Americans Will Steger, Paul Schurke, Ann Bancroft, Geoff Carroll and Bob Mantell, Canadians Brent Poddy and Richard Weber and New Zealander Bob McKerrow started from Ellesmere Island with 49 dogs on March 8. The heavy loads and rough pressure ice forced them to relay early in the journey. They were visited twice by aircraft, which brought them no supplies. On April 2 McKerrow had to be evacuated, having suffered broken ribs from a careening sled. On April 16 Mantell was airlifted out because of frozen feet. Dogs were also flown out and only 21 of them made the final journey. The six remaining members were flown back from the Pole on May 1. On March 9 Etienne set out, pulling his sled, from Ward Hunt Island, just north of Ellesmere Island and slightly east of where the others had left the day before. Amazingly, the two parties met briefly on April 8. He reached the North Pole on May 11 but because of bad weather had to wait for four days to be picked up by plane. Articles in the National Geographic of September 1986 describe both expeditions.

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