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VLADIVOSTOK, April 19 (Itar-Tass) – Famous Russian traveler Fyodor Konyukhov and his mate Viktor Simonov, who are in middle of a dogsledding odyssey from the North Pole to Greenland, on Thursday covered a record-breaking daily distance of 27 kilometers since the start of their expedition on April 6, Konyukhov’s son, Oskar, told Itar-Tass on Friday after a satellite telephone conversation with the expedition members.
By Friday, the Arctic explorers have descended below the latitude of 88 degrees North. “We have traversed two degrees (about 220 kilometers) in a span of less than two weeks, just as we planned,” Konyukhov Sr. said.
He also spoke about the weather in the Arctic. “The landscape is inspiring optimism, with only old hummocks and practically no open water. We moved in a cracking pace throughout the day, and only deep snow blanket somewhat held the dogs in,” he said and added that so far the equipment was operating faultlessly. “During our overnight rests, we use solar batteries to charge all our devices - Iridium satellite telephones, GLONASS navigation gadgets and batteries of photo and video cameras,” he said.
The expedition plans to reach Greenland in mid-May. An airplane is expected to reach the expedition from Canada on April 30 or May 1 to replenish the expedition’s food reserves. The plane equipped with ski landing gear will try to land on ice near the expedition’s camp to deliver ten plastic casks with foods. If it fails, the casks will be airdropped. Taking into account that dogs eat seven kilograms of food a day, the expedition has dog food enough to last till May 1, while the two men have food till May 5 or 6.
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.
The expedition will proceed in several stages during which the explorers will reach the North Pole and then cross the Greenland from North to South. This will 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.
As of today, the expedition is yet to travel more than 600 kilometers before it reaches Greenland.