In April 2010, Elham Al-Qasimi will attempt an unassisted expedition to the North Pole. During a three-week journey, Elham will ski cross-country to the North Pole starting at 89 degrees latitude. As a result, she will be the first Arab woman to set foot on the North Pole and the first UAE national to ski to the North Pole, with no food drops, no re-supplies and no visits to towns or settlements.
Departing from the Russian ice station Borneo at 89ºN, Elham’s trek will see her cross the final degree of latitude by cross-country ski – currently the preferred method of travel across the Arctic Ocean. She will only use natural human means of propulsion, i.e. legs and arms, as apposed to expeditions which use non-human means such as motorised equipment. Elham’s mission will be ski-assisted. In polar exploration, ski-assisted usually means embarking on an expedition without any re-supplies or other assistance once on the ice. Therefore all supplies to last the hundred or so nautical miles that she will ski to reach the North Pole will be carried on a sled pulled by herself.
The pack ice of the Arctic Ocean is always shifting; leads crack open and pressure ridges build into massive walls of ice chunks. As a result, the expedition may see her travel east, west and at times even south to avoid these obstacles. The shifting ice makes the exact distance Elham will travel difficult to estimate. To add to the challenge of it all is the extreme cold temperatures, often as cold as -40 ºC.
Elham’s trek will be directed by experienced guides from one of the world’s leading expedition companies, Polar Explorers. She aims to undertake the expedition with optimism, ambition, humility, discipline and responsible action.