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Closing in on the North Pole

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Kunming resident Jin Feibao is attempting to summit each continent's highest peak and trek to both of the Earth's poles within a one-year period. Following his recent trip to Argentina's Mount Aconcagua, 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.

April 24: Massive crevasses and snow-covered holes

"Yesterday, we skied 10 hours, but covered only 13 km. The weather was not good, it was very windy, the temperature dropped to -25˚C. We skied very hard into head-on winds.

On the way, we met a very wide crevasse - about eight meters wide. It was very long - at least several kilometers long. Standing on the edge of the crevasse we could see the blue water below. The ice we were standing on was only about one meter thick above the water level, which meant we were standing on the edge of a big floating piece of ice. There was no way to cross such a wide crevasse except to go around it, so we skied along the crevasse. Two hours later, we finally found an ice bridge and crossed it.

Potential dangers like this are everywhere on the way to the North Pole. Sometimes the hard ice surface is too slippery - even the ski boards can not grip it. Falling down is unavoidable. Sometimes we ski on soft snow and can not avoid the holes hidden beneath the snowy top layer. Yesterday, a team member from the US fell into a snow-covered hole and damaged his ski boards. Luckily the hole was not deep so he wasn't hurt.

We have two tour leaders, both are very experienced. Usually one tour leader skis in the front, checking the ice. When he is unsure about the ice ahead he will take off his skis and walk forward with an exploring pole to check it thoroughly. Meanwhile the other tour leader will follow him with ropes in hand in case he falls through the ice.

We need to drink a lot of water on the way, so each morning before we start out I fill all my water bottles with hot water. Several days later, I discovered that some team members were filling their bottles with hot chocolate. I was drinking water, they were drinking chocolate - they were taking in more energy than me. I have learned from them, now I also fill my bottle with hot chocolate. As we press ahead each day, we not only eat chocolate but drink it too.

Last night while we camped the wind was still blowing hard. That explains why this morning my GPS indicated that we had drifted four kilometers away from where we initially set up camp, so we have to ski four more kilometers to make it up.

My GPS shows that we are only 30 kilometers from the North Pole. With head-on winds, drifting ice and massive crevasses, I'm guessing that our actual ski distance should be at least double the direct distance. However, we have confidence to reach the North Pole within 3 days."

April 25: "Everybody feels very tired"

"Yesterday, we skied 11 hours, covering 15 kilometers. It was still windy and the temperature was around -21˚C. After six days of skiing, everybody feels very tired, everybody feels it's harder and harder to keep going.

While skiing we came to a 30-meter-wide crevasse with water inside. It looked like a wide river - we had no choice but to ski around it. Sometimes we'd come across crevasses that were only three meters across with no water inside but a thin layer of ice on the bottom. In this situation we would lower two sleds to the middle of the crevasse, then fix two pairs of ski boards to connect the sleds with the ice, forming two instant bridges. We'd then cross the bridges and then drag the sleds up behind us. If a crevasse was less than one meter across, we'd use our ski boards as a bridge and cross it easily, then immediately run forward to drag the sled across it quickly.

In order to save fuels for melting ice into drinking water and for cooking, we have not washed our faces or brushed our teeth since we left Barneo camp. Even our bowls and dishes have not been washed. After every meal we seal our bowls and dishes in a plastic bag where they wait for the next use.

Going to the toilet is much easier than in Antarctica. One reason is because it's not as cold here. Another reason is we can always find ice walls. Even if it is only one meter high, it is enough to block the wind while we are doing the big job. We also take all our waste in sealed plastic bags on our sleds as we did in Antarctica.

Foodwise, we have noodles, instant rice, ham, sausage, bread, and chocolate. Of course I love rice the most.

Our tour leaders use a satellite phone to keep in touch with their colleagues in Barneo camp. The tour leader said that presently our seven-person team is the only team in North Pole area.

This expedition is very difficult and lonely, everybody has to have good imaginations to keep their spirits up. Everyday I think about Kunming's warm sunshine, delicious food and my family and friends - and Kunming's nightlife because there is no night here.

This morning we found that once again we drifted four kilometers from where we set up camp the night before. This time we were not surprised nor upset. Now this ski-forward-during-the-day-float-backward-while-sleeping thing as quite normal. Now, we are only 19 km away from the North Pole."

April 26: "I felt like we were skiing in the sky"

"Yesterday, we skied hard for 13 hours and covered 18 kilometers. But we drifted back several kilometers while sleeping. This morning, I checked my GPS and found out that we are still eight kilometers away from the North Pole. I estimate that we can reach our destination within 10 hours.

The weather was not good. It was very cloudy - it looked like the sky and the icy ground merged together. At times I felt like we were skiing in the sky, not on the ice. In the afternoon, it started to snow. The snowflakes were very tiny, like powder. But it was not windy so we didn't feel too cold. I forgot to take out the heat-preserving layer from my boots to air it before I went to sleep last night, so my boots were wet inside, very uncomfortable.

We encountered a really dangerous situation for the first time. While we were preparing to cross a crevasse with water inside, the ice on the other side of the crevasse suddenly started to move, submerging all the small pieces of floating ice in the water very fast. Our tour leader yelled "Go back! Go back!"

We hurried back to a pack of stable ice. Afterward our tour leader told us that if somebody had fallen into the water the person would have been carried away immediately by the floating ice with no chance of being rescued. We were all scared.

We were very close to the North Pole and expected to reach the North Pole yesterday. Unexpectedly, the nearer we got to the North Pole the wider the crevasses with water inside became and the higher the ice hills. We had to ski around one crevasse after another and climb one ice hill after another. In the early evening, we realized that it was impossible to reach the North Pole that day. We had to choose stable ice for our camp, everybody was exhausted.

We did have a pleasant surprise yesterday - we met another expedition team in this icy world. They rode sleds dragged by eight dogs each. Their tour leader was a woman from France and team members included one lady from France and a man from the US. The dogs were very friendly to us and we were very happy to meet them."

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This is a cool web site.I visit here almost every day these days.And you renew the texts almost every day also.That is cool.And how to say,you are really hard working.^^


me too, i love this web site too. very cool!

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