Eleven women representing both the Middle East and European countries began a historic trek earlier this week to the North Pole.
Following an early morning April 15 flight from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the northernmost commercial airport in the world, to a floating ice station at 89º north, the group set off immediately on their 100-km adventure on cross-country skis over shifting pack ice of the Arctic Ocean.
The treacherous, overland journey is expected to take 10 days. If successful, many of these women, some of whom are first-time polar explorers, will be the first person from their country to ski the last degree to the top of the world. This team is comprised of women from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Slovenia, Sweden, France, Cyprus, Russia and the UK.
Poseidon Expeditions’ own Ida Olsson, 32, Arctic Wilderness Guide and Kayak Master on its polar cruises, represents Sweden.
The team will be conducting two important science experiments during the expedition and will be sharing their experiences live from the ice with schools and via social media. For updates please see the expedition team’s blog post.
They will sleep in tents on the ice and haul on sledges everything they need to survive in the Arctic. Hazards they may face include the perils of temperatures as low as minus 40C and movements of the pack ice that may split apart to reveal open water or push together to form walls of ice that have to be crossed. There is also the threat of predatory polar bears.
Preparations for the expedition have been ongoing for nearly two years including training expeditions in Iceland and Oman.
“We regularly take guests to the North Pole during the summer months on 50 Years of Victory, a powerful icebreaker,” said Nikolai Saveliev, founder of Poseidon Expeditions, which is sponsoring Olsson to ski to the North Pole. “By doing it the hard way, Ida will inspire ever more people to care about the polar wilderness we cherish.”
Olsson originally trained as a teacher before working as a wilderness and adventure guide in northern Sweden. She now lives and works on Svalbard when she is not acting as kayak master and expedition team member aboard Poseidon’s expedition ship Sea Spirit in Antarctica or the Arctic.
“I’m extremely proud to be part of this exciting expedition that brings together women from all over the world to experience together the challenging yet fragile environment of the Arctic Ocean,” said Olsson. “Having travelled all over the Arctic for many years, I have seen how precious this ecosystem is and the importance of protecting it. Our goal is to bring attention to the conservation and preservation efforts of these polar regions.”
The expedition leader, celebrated British Polar Explorer Felicity Aston MBE, said, “The world is facing global problems – such as climate change – that can only be tackled with global solutions. That requires everyone talking to each other more.”
The expedition is sponsored by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, as well as Engie, Poseidon Expeditions, OmanTel, I Feel Slovenia and others.