On 30 July, nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 Let Pobedy” of the Federal Government Unitary Enterprise “Atomflot” (of State-Owned Corporation “Rosatom”), will embark on its final journey this year to the North Pole. Aboard the icebreaker, Arctic enthusiasts and famous explorer Fedor Konyukhov will travel to 90 degrees North.
Fedor Konyukhov: “On this journey to the North Pole aboard nuclear-powered icebreaker ‘50 Let Pobedy’, my goal is to evaluate the possibility of launching a hot air balloon from the North Pole in the direction of the Russian coast. I am planning to fly over part of the North Arctic Ocean aboard a hot air balloon. It will be the same distance aboard the icebreaker as it would be on the hot air balloon.
The idea requires careful planning, as well as discussions with the vessel’s crew, who handily have unique experience working in the Arctic. Our calculations show that the journey by air will take three days. Re-fuelling or landing on drifting ice is impossible. It is necessary to reach the continent and land near a city or town. We are planning for the flight to take place next year, delivering equipment to the North Pole aboard an ice breaker, and while it stops for a few days near the Pole, to unload the equipment onto the ice and launch the balloon.
In February 2019, pilot Ivan Menyailo and I spent 55 hours in the air in an open basket, including two nights. The temperature at the time reached minus 25. I estimate that the flight over the Arctic Ocean will take 55-60 hours. We will land in the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia or on the Taimyr Peninsula, in the Krasnoyarsk Region.
Besides planning the hot-air balloon journey, I have always wanted to draw arctic landscapes. I’ve brought with me 4 canvasses and paint. I want to do some creative work. It is good that it is currently Polar Summer in the Arctic, and I can spend whole days on deck. My youngest son Nikolai has joined me on this journey. I wanted to show him the Arctic. I’ve been to the North Pole four times, but it will be his first encounter with the upper latitudes.”
Before he set out on this trip, the explorer met with Acting Governor of the Murmansk Region, Andrey Chibis, and General Director of the Federal Government Unitary Enterprise “Atomflot”, Mustafa Kashka.
“The sailors of the nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet are unlike anyone else. They really know the Arctic” said Mustafa Kashka. “They are sure to share all of their experience with Fedor Konyukhov. I hope that this trip will become a key reference point before the big hot-air balloon journey”.
The participants of the fifth journey will return to Murmansk on 10 August.
Fedor Konyukhov has skied to the North Pole three times. In 1988 he participated in the trans-Arctic ski expedition “USSR – North Pole – Canada”, as part of an international team sponsored by the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. The group reached the North Pole on 24 April 1988 and finished their expedition at Ward Hunt Island (Canada) on 1 June 1988. In 1989, Fedor Konyukhov participated in Russia’s first nuclear-powered expedition to the North Pole called “Arctica”. The expedition reached the North Pole on 6 May 1989. In 1990, the explorer completed the first solo ski expedition to the North Pole in Russian history. He began at Cape Lokot (Sredny Island) on 3 March 1990, and reached the Pole on 8 May that year. In 2013, together with Victor Simonov, Fedor traversed the Arctic Ocean with a dog sled from the North Pole to Canada (Ward Hunt Island). The expedition began on 6 April and finished on 20 May 2013.