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Jin Feibao skiing toward North Pole

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176Mount Aconcagua#http://www.gokunming.com/en/blog/item/233/#, he has moved on to Norway and is skiing to the North Pole. GoKunming is reprinting transcripts of Jin Feibao's daily telephone reports to Kunming

Saturday, April 21: 89 degrees north latitude

"Yesterday at 6:30 pm, we boarded a mid-size Russian transport airplane and flew for about two and a half hours, arriving in Barneo at 9:00 pm Longyearbyen [Norway] local time.

There were about 30 passengers in the airplane, we all sat in the front half of the plane. All luggage was put in the back half. Two thirds of the passengers will not go to the North Pole, they will take some sightseeing tours around Barneo.

Barneo is a Russian research camp located at approximately 89 degrees north latitude, but it is on a big pack of ice which is always floating, so its precise location varies. Barneo was established by the former Soviet Union. In recent years, because Russia has not enough money to support its scientific research here, Barneo has gradually become a tour destination and the starting spot for North Pole expeditions.

Upon landing in Barneo, I saw some locals with their dog sleds waiting for tourists near the runway, so I guess taking sightseeing tours on dog sleds might be the major attractions for ordinary tourists here.

We ate some snacks in a restaurant camp in Barneo then we decided to head north immediately, because we are already three days behind our schedule and we wanted to stretch our legs after the flying. So we strapped on our skis and headed north. One and a half hours later, we had skied two kilometers. The tour leader chose a solid "old" ice float for us to camp on. He said this ice is about 3-4 meters thick.

It was the first time in my life that I slept on floating ice. When I thought that 3-4 meters below me was the deep and icy Arctic Ocean, I felt very uneasy. I could not sleep at first, but looking at the sound asleep 67-year-old Norbert, with whom I shared my tent, I gradually fell asleep."

Sunday, April 22: Crossing crevasses

"Yesterday, we skied seven hours, covering nine kilometers. It was a sunny day - nearly windless. The temperature was about -15˚C, much warmer than in the Antarctica - but the air is much wetter.

After breakfast, we started skiing to the north, dragging our sleds behind us. Each sled weighs about 40 kilograms. We checked our direction by GPS.

On the way we came upon many water leads and crevasses, which have as many kinds of shapes and sizes as you can image. When meeting the wide ones, we had to ski around them, which added more distance to our skiing. When coming upon narrow ones, we had to use the ski board as our bridge to cross them. After reaching the other side, we had to run immediately to pull the ski board across the crevasse, otherwise it would fall into the crevasse.

Sometimes the crevasses in front of us were too wide and too long, if we skied around them, it would cost us a lot of time, so we had to put down our skis and sleds, use a long rope to lower the tour leader down into the crevasse. He walked across the bottom of the crevasse to the other side, then climbed up out and fix the rope on the ice. Using this rope as a safe rope, we crossed the crevasse one by one as the tour leader did. We used the same method to drag our sleds across the crevasse.

Each time when somebody successfully crossed the crevasse, all other people would cheer and applaud, just like watching an acrobatic performance. If somebody could not cross it, then other team members would surely help him. Mr. Norbert is the oldest one in our team, his leg has been hurt when he playing football in his 20s. Whenever he has troubles crossing the crevasses, I always actively offer him a hand. This way no one is left behind, and no one will be left behind.

Because the air is very wet and we sweat so much, whenever we stopped to have a short rest we always found out that our headgear, gloves and clothes were wet. There is no way to dry these things except to put them in our sleeping bags and use our body heat to dry them as we sleep. If you put them outside under the sunshine they will not dry because the air is so humid.

On the way we didn't see any animals, but we saw some ice hills. They may have been the tops of large submerged icebergs. Some ice hills are as high as 60 meters, some looked like towers. Skiing to the North Pole is not as boring as skiing to the South Pole. We had some landmarks and some scenery to look at, although skiing on the uneven ice surface is not as enjoyable as skiing on the flat snow ground in Antarctica."

Monday, April 23: Thin ice

"Yesterday, we skied 9 hours, covered 14 km. The weather was the same - sunny, with a little cloud and a little breeze. Temperatures are still around -15˚C.

Now everybody is familiar with how to ski on the uneven ice surface, how to avoid water leads and how to cross different kinds of crevasses, so we made faster progress than the previous day.

On the way, we encountered some very thin ice - which can be easily broken with a ski pole, so everybody was afraid that the ice could break at any time. Everybody had to ski as fast as he could to lower the pressure on the thin ice. After crossing it, everyone was sweating. It consumed a lot of energy, so we had to stop frequently to eat chocolate bars and drink water. While resting on the ice, one man from the USA took out a harmonica and played some beautiful music. All of us fell silent at that moment, fully enjoying the music which seemed to be coming from heaven.

Up to now, according to my GPS, we have covered nearly one third of the total distance, if everything goes well, we should reach the North Pole within six days."

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