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Skiing to the North Pole is unique, because you are skiing on frozen water above an ocean over 4,500 metres deep, as opposed to being above land.

Despite being the smallest of the 5 Oceans, the Arctic Ocean is unique because it is frozen for most of the year, despite global warming, which is reducing the frozen area by over 3% every 10 years.

The sea ice is an average of 3 metres thick, although the prevailing currents cause drifting which, in turn, create pressure ridges up to 3 times that size.

Shrouded in darkness from October to February, it is a foreboding place with temperatures plummeting to -60°C at the start of the expedition (although temperatures down to -68°C have been recorded). The humidity experienced by being so close to water makes the temperature “feel” colder. Open water leads can also produce fog, adding to the difficulties.

As the team move further North during April and May, the combined effects of warmer temperatures, the Transpolar Drift and the Beaufort Gyre will start to break the surface into a maze of pans and open water leads, that can vary from a foot to a kilometre or so wide. This constant movement is noisy and somewhat disturbing, particularly at night!

Little marine life exists where the ocean surface is frozen, apart from whales, seals and polar bear's that tend to appear where the water is more open.

There is no habitation on the sea ice apart from a few floating research stations operated by the U.S. and Russia. Upon reaching the Pole the team may be picked up by the logistic support team of the Russian Borneo Ice Station at 89° North, on the Russian side.

Although the darkness presents obvious problems at the start of the expedition, the light effects of the setting sun are dramatic, as are the “sun dog” phenomena that are caused by ice crystals caught in the sunlight.