55 nautical miles to the North Pole!

by John Huston

What a day! We really had a big mental day. Tyler and I began this day south of 89° latitude even though we camped north of 89° latitude. What's been happening is that we are drifting south at a pretty quick rate, between 4 and 6 nautical miles per 24 hours and that's really been hurting our travel schedule.  And it's been frustrating to have entered 88° a few days ahead of schedule and have exited 88° a day or two behind schedule.

We have adjusted our working hours from 13 to 16½ and still have encountered quite heavy conditions, rubble with lots of wind blown snow and a few open leads that take time to swim across.  Given these factors and given the drift pushing us south so quickly reaching the North Pole by early morning on April 26th will be a huge push and we're ready for it.

Tyler and I knew that we would have some sort of huge push at the end and while that was a possibility all along it was something that we kind of dreaded and we worked very hard to avoid. But at this point due to the drift and due to the pretty hard weather conditions - we have 20-knot winds out of the west pretty consistently with a lot of blowing snow and that blowing snow accumulates in drifts in all the rubble fields and makes a lot of new snow waves, or sastrugi, that really slow down our progress.  So, given those factors the wind and the drift, it is a very difficult path to the North Pole from where we are at 89°, 5 minutes of latitude or so, even though we camped almost 2½ miles north of here 10 or 12 hours ago.

So, that's where we're up against and we have very little food left. We have about 3½-4 days and food. We have 3 liters of fuel, which is right where we expected it to be; that is plenty to get us there.  And Tyler and I are proceeding north at our own steady pace. We know that we can only ski so fast and that to try and push our bodies, which are thin by 30 pounds each and tired and don't have the normal strength that we had in the beginning of the expedition, too much would be an unwise thing to do.

So we are heading north at our steady pace. We are lightweight because we have very little left. And we plan on skiing a whole lot and sleeping very little. From this point forward, we will blog but they will be short and with our progress updates because we are going to concentrate 100% on taking a few naps, getting a few meals and continuing north.  It's going to be exciting. We are extraordinarily optimistic that we will make it to the North Pole on the morning of April 26th and we hope that you enjoy the ride.

Thanks for listening. Think of us out there skiing and send us your positive thoughts and we can't wait to see you at home.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: April 22, 2009

Location: N89° 08.131' W051 20.827'
Start: 5:45pm (2/21),  -2°F
End:  9:45am (2/22),  0°F
W wind, 15-20+knots

John and Tyler are committed to raising
funds and awareness for CaringBridge.