All posts by Eric Philips

How low can you go?

The barometer started dropping yesterday afternoon and it hasn’t stopped yet. My watch reads 979 hPa, see pic. Our meteorologist says it’s the largest storm he’s seen in the arctic, almost covering the entire ocean. The result is a 30km/h wind from the SW taking us in the worst possible direction. Since camping last night we have drifted over 20km from our target.

Conditions this morning were horrendous, -21 with strong head wind and 10m visibility kept us tent bound for the day, the first in my 12 seasons on the Arctic Ocean. We hope for better conditions tomorrow but will likely drift north another 10km overnight. Gotta love this place. Where else in the world do you get such flux in fate and fortune. But a happy little tent we are, rebuilding strength for the weeks ahead.


Tough day

I love days like today. Extreme cold with wind in the face. I am never more alive or more comfortable, everything cinched down and zippered up, like a cocoon protected against the elements. But if a single piece of armour is out of place it can turn to hell.

We skied almost due west to regain some westerly but a wind from the south west gradually strengthened and we all but lost our day’s progress. Only 7km closer to Canada but gained a few degrees west, at 67. I suspect all of this will be wiped out by tomorrow morning, the wind is howling outside. To find our position and temperature click on the latest yellow marker on the Google Earth map.

A big hello to the South Pole Allied Challenge team with whom I skied to the South Pole a few months ago. They are all competing in the London marathon tomorrow. Best of luck, last one across the line buys the beers! Chewbakka photo bombed me today! Eric

one down, six to go

We have nailed the 89th parallel, six more until Canada. It’s always a milestone crossing a degree of latitude and tonight we celebrate with Beef Stroganoff! Living the high life! A clear day with a slight breeze in the face. We continue to drift east despite our westerly gain and tonight it seems we will heading slowly north as we sleep. Bugger! The full moon and resultant king tide approaches too which will swell the ice and crack it open and pressurise it on the way down. Interesting times ahead. We send our best wishes to Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters who are doing it tough on the opposite route from Canada to North Pole. We’ll do our best to cross paths. Pic of this morning’s camp. The Hilleberg Stalon Combi modular tent is perfect for three. Eric


The ice giveth, the ice taketh away

After yesterday’s mega-haul, today we managed only 12km, disrupted by rubble and our weekly personal updates to camera which took an hour out of our sledding day. It was another cold day, we estimated around -38C. You should be able to see some data including temps by clicking on the yellow position markers in the Google map, courtesy of Yellowbrick. We clawed back some westerly but still need to get to the 75W meridian. Currently camped at the start of a messy pressure zone. Should be an interesting morning!

Pic of Bernice yesterday on our long and winding lead.


The long and winding lead

We had a day that occurs so seldom. From camp we followed a frozen lead south for 7 hours making the kind of progress one dreams of in the early stage of a long expedition with heavy sleds. 18.5km. We also made up a little of the westerly we need to gain but need to recover a full 15 degrees to get to our intended line to Canada. This will happen over the next week. Today was -36C and I could feel it in the crunch of the butter. A truly amazing day, enjoyed every moment of it. Eric

Making progress

Despite -31C, it was a perfect day for skiing on the Arctic Ocean. The air was breathless today and the sky and ice breathtaking as a light fog approached from the east, casting a sheer screen over the lifeless sun. This is why I come here, every day something new, something different. Covered 14km in 7 hours, through pans and rubble, tomorrow we go to 8 hours of hauling. I skied all day dressed in base layer and fleece, using my food and activity to stave off cold. Bernice suffered in the cold today, her body finally realising that the bitter Arctic has no respite. Martin lethargic but plodding on. My time will come, I am not always beer and skittles up here. 703km to Canada. Pic of Martin and Bernice pulling into a rest break, shot on my iPhone! Eric

7 April, 2014 20:24

A perfect day of blue sky, not a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind. Temp around -25. Today we covered 15km, the ice mostly flat with small pressure ridges and some sastrugi. We crossed a small lead 3m wide using the amphibious sleds as a raft. Bernice and Martin doing well, both clearly love the arctic ice and our slow and deliberate movement across it. After receiving updated coordinates of our landing point on Canada, Cape Discovery, we are 718km to cover. Pic of Martin in action. Eric

5 April, 2014 20:06

Under a grey sky we plundered SSW, trying to regain some westerly that we lost yesterday due to drift. Surface mostly fine, only small pressure ridges and some small frozen leads, colder today, in the 20’s I reckon. Just over 12km in 7 hours, I was hoping for more but cant grumble on our first day! Pic of Bernice stepping off a fresh lead. Eric