Santa’s workshop isn’t the only thing found at the North Pole, though jolly old St. Nick does his best to camouflage his HQ from prying eyes. Indeed, our planet’s topmost swatch of real estate has been the sight of several strange and beautiful scenes, seven of which are presented here.
Peary Plants Old Glory
Over a century after American polar explorer Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 6th of 1909, controversy still clouds his remarkable achievement due to his sloppy record-keeping. Peary wasn’t alone at the pole: his trusted companion was an African-American, Matthew Henson, who some say actually reached the North Pole ahead of Peary.
(image via: Zazzle)
Peary wasn’t alone in his inattention to the need for thorough, accurate documentation and it wasn’t until May 12th of 1926 that “the first consistent, verified, and scientifically convincing attainment of the Pole” was achieved by none other than first-to-the-South Pole Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Difficulty: Amundsen and his team arrived at the pole via the Italian crewed and piloted dirigible Norge.
Run Silent, Run Deep, Run North
Just as there’s more than one way to skin a cat, there’s more than one way to reach the North Pole… such as from beneath. The nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus accomplished the feat on August 3rd, 1958, though there are no photos capturing the moment. Instead, we have the USS Skate (SSN-578) which surfaced at the North Pole on March 17th of 1959 providing photographers with a payday and propagandists with a field day.
(images via: Vulcania Submarine)
Mention a submarine named Nautilus and not everyone will mentally conjure up ol’ SSN 571. Blame the pervasiveness of pop culture for the persistence in memory of Jules Verne’s fictional sub. Finding Nemo at the North Pole? Verne never posited such an expedition but that’s OK, today’s artists have illustrated the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea version for him (and us).
Fast-forward a few short decades and travel to the North Pole has become about as routine as climbing Mount Everest. Founded in 1991, Quark Expeditions specializes in arctic travel and the Waterbury, VT-based company will get you there in style aboard the Russian-owned, nuclear powered “50 Years of Victory” icebreaker.
(image via: STC)
It’s not exactly where you’d expect to find a crowd but if you time it right (and book your itinerary with Quark) you can surely find one. Let’s hope the area’s polar bears don’t get a hold of that itinerary, however.
Extreme Art, Awesome Icebreaker
In 2007, Canadian artist/explorer David McEown thought it would be cool to exercise his brushes at the North Pole, and with a little help from the awesomely toothy Russian icebreaker Yamal he was able to make it happen. McEown represented the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, which makes one wonder what trying to paint in watercolors in typical arctic conditions must have been like. Thanks to McEown we now know it’s possible at least.
(image via: Hannes Rada)
Here’s a head-on look at Yamal parked at the North Pole, looking awesome as usual. Any curious polar bears who happen to stumble onto the scene would surely beat a hasty retreat when faced with this, er, face though it’s not at all certain this is the reason for the ship’s Flying Tigers grin.
Marathon races are said to be the ultimate test of a long-distance runner’s endurance so what do you call a marathon conducted at the North Pole? “Crazy” comes to mind, but nutty or not the race has been run since 2003 with competitors flying in by jet from Spitsbergen, Norway and returning the day after the race.
(image via: Brent’s Races)
45kph winds, -20C temperatures, 42.2km… you’d better believe you’ll be running! The 2010 edition of the North pole Marathon featured 25 athletes from 10 countries and while it wasn’t the coldest run, conditions were far from ideal with the wind building up snowdrifts on the course as the race progressed. Canada’s Brent Underdahl (above) proudly shows the flag on a very un-springlike April 7th.
Just Add Ice
Since 1937 when the Soviet Union established the first of many semi-annual ice stations on the ice at the North Pole, the USSR and its successor state (Russia) have been hammering home their claim to both the pole and the region around it. In 2007 the Russians underlined their intentions by sending a pair of mini-submarines down beneath the pack ice to the actual North Pole, 2.5 miles below sea level on the Arctic Ocean floor.
The 2007 expedition, led by Russian parliamentarian Artur Chilingarov, was meant to show the flag at a time when global warming is turning the world’s attention to once-impassable polar seas and the resources thought to be found on the seafloor beneath. The best way to accomplish this was to actually plant a flag at the pole and take LOTS of pictures of it.
(images via: RIA-Novosti)
“You may kiss the bride…” I triple-dog dare you! Borge Ousland always thought it would be a mighty cld day before he got married and he was right: -23 Celsius or -9.4 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. The 49-year-old Norwegian arranged for his fiance Hege, 20 to 30 guests and himself flown to the Russian North Pole base in April 2012 for the first North Pole wedding.
(image via: RIA-Novosti)
The happy couple exchanged vows before crossed skis with Lutheran priest Dag Henrik Berggrav officiating. The ceremony was enhanced by musical accompaniment and guests were served champagne on ice (of course). Next time your significant other says he/she wants a white wedding, be careful what you’re signing up for. If things don’t turn out, however, there’s still a chance to have the first South Pole divorce.