The research vessel and icebreaker "Crown Prince Haakon" turned almost 85 degrees north. They went northeast of Svalbard on their way to the North Pole, but met thicker and more massive sea ice than expected."...Thick one-year ice, combined with large batches of multi-year ice. In many places, wind and ocean currents have pushed the ice together into powerful helmets, and several of these are impenetrable to us," says Captain Johnny Peder Hansen.
The ice is still 3m (10ft) thick, in mid-July. Even the researchers’ long special-purpose chainsaws proved hopeless, while the 20,000 horsepower Kronprins Haakon, at a cost of USD $175 million, failed miserably at attempts to push through. “In the middle of July, we saw a few signs of thawing and [assumed] that spring had come, said Captain Hansen, who for several decades has worked on various vessels in the Arctic. “We had expected more melting.” Klassekampen, a respected left-leaning Norwegian newspaper writes: “Polar bears were seen on Bjørnøya this past winter –located in the middle of the Barents Sea– which shows that the ice edge was very far south.”