Thursday, 28 March 2013

Barneo Ice Camp, a russian North Pole seasonal camp and ... marathon !

This is not a piece of land, it's more like a mad fantasy on floating ice in the Arctic.

Barneo Ice Camp is a Russian temporary drift station, established on an ice floe on the frozen Arctic Ocean, near the North Pole.

The first Barneo ice base was established in 2002. Since then it's been anually sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society and normally lasts from late March to middle or late April. For more than 10 years, this tent-town has appeared on the map for just 40 days !

Flights to Barneo operate from Longyearbyen in Svalbard Island, the Antonov An-74 being the most regular plane to land there.

The exact coordinates change with the ice drifting under strong winds and ocean currents. In 2007, Barneo was located at about 89°31.5′N,30°27′W.

Barneo base complex includes an ice runway as part of the project. Because of the constant moving ice on the Arctic Ocean, Barneo has to be rebuilt from scratch each year. 

The seasonal camp sets up in late March every year, through a complex series of logistics incorporating Ilyushin-76, Antonov-74 and Mi-8 flights from Moscow and Siberia, parachute and skydiver drops, specialist advisers and observers.

Camp facilities include heated accommodation tents with comfortable bedding, a large mess tent and kitchen serves regular hot meals, provides 24-hr tea, coffee and snacks and houses a souvenir store with Arctic and North Pole memorabilia.

The Mess tent - food, coffee and shop

The complex and the camp activities are organized by the Russian Geographical Society.

Accomodation tents.
The tents have double-thick floors and covers, a small antechamber for insulation and a washstand.

Temperatures at Barneo can easily reach under -40ºC.
In late April the warmer temperatures begin to take effect. The ice begins to melt and weaken, time to end Barneo's short spring. 

The Antonov 74 is the most frequent transport to and from Barneo.

Depending on the base's location, excursions to the actual North Pole can be conducted on skis, by dog sled, or by helicopter.

A MI-8 Helicopter from Barneo, landed by the North Pole.

The North Pole sign also drifts with the ice, so its location quickly becomes wrong... A GPS device will show constantly changing coordinates.

Barneo site:

The North Pole Marathon

Since 2003, this yearly race starts at Barneo Camp for a 42.195km running distance.

The course is run entirely on frozen water, passing through the Geographic North Pole, in the heart of the Arctic Circle, under extreme sub-zero temperatures.

A unique event, man alone VS. the infinite ice.

A letter from the North Pole is now easy to send - but only at Barneo Camp, while it lasts !