North Pole – Camp Barneo cancelled again | Polarjournal
Barneo is an annual Arctic research camp operated by the Russian Geographical Society. It has been set up on the pack ice near the geographic North Pole for a month each year from late March or early April since 2002. (Photo: Camp Barneo)

What does it look like at the North Pole? A white-blue infinity, pressure ridges, light shows – pure magic that only a few people have ever experienced in winter. We are overjoyed to be among them. But the North Pole will again have a break from visitors this year. What has been expected for days has now arrived – Icecamp Barneo will not be built. The 2021 season therefore ends before it even begins.

This is how Barneo begins – In Moscow, the first items are loaded into the huge Ilyushin IL-76 and transported to Murmansk. When weather conditions are good the IL-76 flies to the North Pole and the construction materials are dropped by parachute. The construction crew also parachutes to the unusual work site on their way to work. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

PolarJournal was informed by the operator of Camp Barneo a few days ago that Barneo will not take place in April 2021 either. The decision was justified with the difficult time planning. Due to the outbreak of the new, more contagious form of the coronavirus, Norway has again tightened its entry regulations on January 29, 2021. Entry into Norway is now only possible for Norwegian citizens and foreign nationals residing in Norway. All foreigners who do not fall under an exemption will be denied entry without further assessment.

Because of COVID, the 2020 season also did not take place. In 2019, political tensions prevented the Ukrainian aircraft from flying to the Russian station Barneo, although it was ready to be built and operated.

The parachuted utensils are scattered far and wide and have to be gathered. Only then can assembly begin. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

The starting point for the flights to Barneo Ice Camp at the North Pole is Longyearbyen. The flight to the camp takes about 2½ hours. As it is not clear when Norway will reopen its borders, it is uncertain whether Longyearbyen airport in Spitsbergen can be used as a stopover for Barneo tourists and researchers in April.

The construction is a logistical masterpiece

In addition, the construction of the camp near the North Pole is a logistical masterpiece that takes several months. The preparatory work for setting up the camp begins as early as February. In the vicinity of Moscow, the material is gathered and tested, i.e. made ‘airworthy’. From the middle of March everything is moved to Murmansk and is then ready to be transported to the North Pole. All the material and the construction team of about 18 experts will be dropped by parachute. Setting up the camp and creating an airstrip for the flights from Spitsbergen takes about 10 days. Work is done in 3 shifts around the clock. When finished the camp is open for about 3 weeks. Besides the tourist visitors, research work is also done.

The time has come, the first technical flight of the AN-76 from Spitsbergen has just landed, bringing more items to complete the camp. At the same time the packed parachutes in the foreground are transported back to Longyearbyen. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

The author of this report was present a few years ago with a film crew when Camp Barneo was built. It all started in a warehouse in Moscow. The construction was filmed and photographed until the arrival of the first researchers and tourists at Camp Barneo. The filming lasted a total of 6 weeks.

In due course, you will be given the opportunity to read an exciting report on this website about how Camp Barneo is coming into being.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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