VLADIVOSTOK, April 29 (Itar-Tass) - The dogsled Arctic expedition led by famous Russian explorer Fyodor Konyukhov has covered half of the distance between the North Pole and Greenland. So, Konyukhov and his mate Viktor Simonov now have 350 kilometers ahead, Konyukhov told the Moscow-based headquarters over the phone late on Sunday.
On Sunday, the expedition managed to cover a distance of only 21 kilometers because of ice cracks. “The cracks were covered with thin ice, no snow. As a matter of fact, we were going on bendy ice. We made it only because our sleds were half empty,” Konyukhov said. “If the sleds had been as packed as in the first days of the journey, they would have sunk, for sure.”
Now, the most difficult part of the journey is ahead of the expedition of two men and twelve Karelian bear dogs. According to satellite photos, the expedition will have to cross an enormous water opening, which stretches about a hundred kilometers. Another problems is to find a relatively even and thick block of ice to arrange a runway for a ski plane that is to deliver food supplies to the expedition. “On Monday, we are going to move as planned but on April 30 we will try to find a suitable ice floe and will be waiting for a Canadian Kenn Borek Air’s plane that will deliver foods and dry clothing,” Konyukhov said.
On May 1, the expedition plans to stay at the camp to load the sled with the new arrivals and to give the dog some time to rest before venturing a new run with heavily-loaded sleds.
At the same time, the travelers said they were worried over weather forecasts. “It is becoming too warm. The more cold and frosty weather is, the better it is for us. But summer is ahead and we can do nothing about it. God be our helper, we shall trek out here to Greenland’s ground,” Konyukhov said, ending the communications session.
Konyukhov and Simonov, who set off for a 4,000-kilometer-long dogsled Arctic expedition on April 6, plan to cross the Arctic by mid-June at which point they will change their sled dogs of the Russian breed for two teams of dogs of Greenland’s breed, since local laws prohibit to bring animals to Greenland, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.
This expedition is be the longest and most hazardous route in the Arctic. At the end of the 1970s, legendary Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura tried to accomplish this task for the first time. However, he did not succeed in doing this completely - because of the slow progress at the very start, a polar bear attack and bad weather he had to fly to Greenland from the North Pole by plane.