The first Ice Camp “Barneo” was established in 2002. Since that time, the Ice Camp has to be rebuilt from scratch every year because of the constantly drifting Arctic ice. The Ice Camp is working under the patronage of the Russian Geographical Society and normally lasts for the month of April. For the sake of a vivid example, in 2007 Ice Camp “Barneo” was located at about Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.. However, northerly winds caused the Ice Camp to drift towards the southeast at a speed of 0.8 kilometres per hour (0.5 mph). Ice Camp “Barneo” should not be confused with the sequential Soviet/Russian "North Pole" drifting ice stations established by the Russian Academy of Sciences Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI).
Since 2002, the starting and final point of all expeditions to “Barneo” is the capital of the Svalbard archipelago (Norway) - the city Longeryearbyen that has everything one needs: airport, hotels of different levels, restaurants, Post Office, a Bank, a supermarket.
- Albert II, Prince of Monaco
- Miki Ando, Figure Skater
- Thomas Ulrich, Boxer
- Eric Philips, Polar Explorer
It is an airstrip of about 1200 by 60 meters size, which is built at the end of March on the drifting floe in the area around 89 degrees North. This is a fully functional runway, capable of landing the Antonov An-74 cargo-passenger aircraft. Ice Camp “Barneo” employs two AN-74. Ice Camp also operates two MI-8 helicopters. The Ice Runway at Ice Camp is operating according to Russian Naval Aviation and is complying with all International Aviation Standards. The runway is operating under the auspices of the Krasnoyarsk Department for Supervision of Air Transport.
Establishing the Ice Camp every year from scratch is quite a complex and sophisticated procedure. Preparation for building up Ice Camp “Barneo” is started well in advance in Moscow. One must get permissions from the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency for the construction and operation of the ice runway. At the end of March two Mi-8 helicopters fly into High Arctic along the route Dikson – Island Sredniy (Severnaya Zemlya) –Cape Arktitchesky (Severnaya Zemlya) – the area of the North Pole. The pilots search for a suitable ice floe for the construction of the runway. The pilots use pictures of the area obtained from the satellite. Although there is no reliable technical equipment to measure the ice floe thickness and stability at the moment, pilots use their vast experience in the High Arctic In parallel with searching for the ice floe by helicopters the staff is preparing cargo (a tractor, barrels of fuel, equipment for camp) for a drop off at the North Pole by the IL-76 aircraft in Moscow. Once the Headquarters in Moscow receives the coordinates of the spotted ice floe from the Chief Pilot of the helicopter group, Il-76 heads from Moscow to Murmansk to load additional cargo and members of a landing party. After that IL-76 Arctic drop off according to received coordinates on the ice floe near the North Pole. The drop off is performed on a parachute cargo systems P-7 and ASG-1000. Il-76 goes back to Murmansk, and on the pristine ice remain 6 people from the landing party and 8 people from helicopter group. They begin to build runway and a place for the Ice Camp. With good weather in two or three days, a runway is ready. Gives permission to use Borneo ice camp inspector of the Krasnoyarsk Department for Supervision of Air Transport. The next AN-74 flight arrives on-ice team, bringing everything needed for a future Ice Camp, and the construction of the Ice Camp “Barneo” begins. The staff builds a big tent, so people could warm up and have a snack while working in the cold. Even in a case of bad weather in five or six days Ice Camp “Barneo” is ready to receive visitors. In the center of the camp there are two public tents – one for staff and one for visitors. There is a kitchen between those two tents. There are three chefs at Ice Camp that can arrange for a hot catering of up to 150 people at a time. Not far from the main Ice Campthere are its satellite camps, where international scientists work with their equipment. When scientists have spare time, staff arranges lectures for visitors of the Ice Camp.
The staff of Ice Camp “Barneo” consists of about 50 people: 14 pilots, 2 Flight Managers, 1 Doctor, 2 Expedition Leader with Assistants, 2 tractor Drivers, 3 Chefs, a Chief Engineer and a Power Engineer with a small team. Ice Camp “Barneo” offers ten tents for the visitors, but the amount of tents is expandable. The “Barneo”’s engineers have developed a system of air heating in the tents. The inside temperature can easily be adjusted from +15 degrees Celsius to a +20 degrees Celsius. Ice Camp “Barneo” operates within a month, serving around 300 visitors. Unfortunately, the season doesn't always go the way the Organizers wish. Weather often intervenesin the well-functioning life of the Ice Camp. For example, at the full moon happens the great motion of the ice, providing “Barneo”’s staff with different troubles. Once the staff had to build a new runway three times in a month, because that year the ice was cracking it. These troubles remain invisible to visitors attending the "Barneo". At the end of April Russian Drifting Ice Camp "Barneo" terminates its operations. Down flags, tents dismantled: the entire camp is dismantled during the day without a trace.
Ice Camp "Barneo" offers a variety of travel programs to its visitors. Extreme athletes from various countries stream to “Barneo” to challenge their skills and abilities: Polar Skiers, Parachute Jumpers, Divers and Marathon Runners and many others.
All travel programs at Barneo are organized by a tour operator Special Expeditions UK Ltd. All travel programs are designed to provide maximum safety for all participants of the expeditions and cause minimal harm to the fragile Arctic environment. Charter flights to/from “Barneo” depart from the airport of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. People can easily access Longyearbyen by daily scheduled flight from Oslo and Tromso by Scandinavian Airlines. Special Expedition’s staff meet expedition participants at the airport of Longyearbyen. A day prior to departure to Ice Camp "Barneo" the staff arranges for a briefing for all expedition participants to give them information about current situation at “Barneo” and about safety requirements. On the departure day of the “Barneo” flight Special Expeditions provides for a group transfer from the group hotel to the airport. The check in procedure for the charter flight is literally no different from any usual check in at any major airport. Flight from Longyearbyen to Ice Camp "Barneo" takes 2.5 hours. On arrival at Ice Camp "Barneo" expedition members meet “Barneo” staff and follow selected travel program.
To visit Russian Drifting Ice Camp "Barneo" and the North Pole any visas are not required. Svalbard Archipelago, Norway, introduced a visa free regime for all major nationalities, : it is enough to have a valid passport. Still, it is advisable to check your own national visa regulations for Svalbard. To arrive to Svalbard, one must take a regular SAS flight with a stop and passport control in Tromso, Norway. Many nationalities will need to possess a Norwegian transit visa or multiple entry Schengen visa.
- Barneo Base
- News from Barneo Apr 18, 2007
- Vicaar International Projects and Expeditions site
- News from Barneo 2012
- Russian Geographic Society