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Two Russians to conquer North Pole during polar night

MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Two Russian adventurers, Matvei Shparo and Boris Smolin, said on Tuesday they were planning an unprecedented journey to reach the North Pole during the Arctic winter.

The two Russians plan to begin their ski journey on December 15-20 from the Arctic Cape, the northernmost point of the Russian Severnaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, and will spend at least two months on the ice. The journey, if successful will be the first expedition of its kind.

"I've always wanted to do something unrivalled, something unprecedented" Matvei Shparo said, who along with his father, was the first to ski across the frozen Bering Strait in 1998. "If we put this idea into practice, we will be the first people to conquer the North Pole during the polar night."

Boris Smolin added that the expedition will be "very difficult and dangerous," because if there is an emergency no one will be able to come to their rescue.

"The MI-8 helicopters, which will take us to the starting point, are unable to fly to us if we cover more than 500 km," he said. "It would take at least 10 days to prepare MI-26 helicopters."

Each of the two adventurers will pull two sledges with food and equipment weighing a total of 140 kilogram (308 pounds). During the polar night the temperature will not rise above -50 degrees Centigrade (-58 Fahrenheit).

"We will face three major threats during our journey - polar bears, ice cracks under our tents and fractures," he said, adding that he has solutions to all of the hazards.

The two Russians will be equipped with the most up-to-date telecommunications equipment, which will allow them to receive satellite data on drifting ice and to plan the best route. In addition, a polar station, SP-35, will drift nearby in order to help the expedition in case of emergency.

In April 2008 Russia plans to send seven Russian teenagers, aged between 15 and 17, on a ski expedition to the North Pole.

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