Every year in March, a Russian cargo plane takes off for the North Pole with an impossible-sounding mission: Air drop a pair of tractor-plows, 50 tons of equipment and a landing crew on a moving chunk of ice just off the polar ice cap.

Within a few days, the crew constructs a tent city and carves out a runway in temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. Barneo Ice Camp then opens for business for one month, welcoming tourists and athletes who have spent a minimum of $20,000 just to reach the top of the world.

For PRI’s The World [a co-production of the BBC]

[For a complete archive of my stories for PRI’s The World, click here.]