Dangers Arctic Ocean: Ice Ridges

Ice ridges are areas of closed up leads. As an open lead closes back up, the edges of the opposite ice pans meet and collide. The edges break from the pressure and pile up on top of each other. Old ridges are white and low as they gradually melt away. New ridges are electric blue or green, often up to 15 ft tall (but can get even 50 ft tall) and well visible from afar. Sometimes one ridge is followed by another and another in a monstrous maze.

Ridges are strenuous to cross. You must remove your skis, climb vertical ice pans that are sharp and slippery and carry your sled over.

Ridges are a true danger zone to your gear. This is where skis are broken and sleds are ripped. In the heat of your tight schedule you throw your skis and poles over the ridge, climb up, drag the sled up behind or push it before you, letting it go with a crash on the other side. All too many unsupported expeditions have been forced to abort the attempt due to broken gear.

There are ways to mend gear on travel. You can travel on half a ski (place the binding on the better part). You can use parts of the foam mattress to manufacture almost anything. The tent poles, the fuel containers – everything can double for almost anything with the aid of duct tape and desperation. Tape and glue however lose their sticking power in extreme cold so you'll have to work by the stove.

Although broken sleds, skis and ski poles are very common, it is not unavoidable. Be a little careful, hold onto the sled to break the fall, remove your skis at tricky sections or tread carefully if climbing with skis on. If you do take that little extra precaution and have sturdy gear to begin with, you could arrive at the North Pole almost without a scratch! The time you lose to the care is easily won back when you don't have to travel on half skis and broken bindings. A hole in your sled will omit lead paddle altogether.

Don't spend too much time scouting, mending gear and pondering weather. Go, go, GO!