Messages From the Arctic Adventure

March 2008 - April 2008

Will be text-ing updates to this page.  You'll see bad spelling, shortened forms, etc.

nm = Nautical Mile

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5th May: Back to Reality

Bills to pay; customers to develop for; garden growing wild.....  This month is going to be a hard month to get thru.  Will be back updating the green room at the end of this month.

22nd April: The Next Adventure???


Skiing up onto the glacier

Some activities are at the mercy of the weather....kiting is one of them.  We left in storm conditions to camp up on Longyearbyen glacier.  After a 2 day rest and heads readjusting to civilisation, we found it a hard slog to take our pulks, kites and ourselves upwards into the glacier mountain, skiing into white out conditions and a potential avalanche area.  We chose to camp close to a horizontal morraine outcrop.  If an avalanche did happen we would have some shelter behind the rocks and most would settle in the bowl adjacent to the mountains.


Hitting the dirt whilst learning how to kite

Unfortunately the weather continued to storm for 2 days.  However on the third day we finally had visibility, some  sunshine and gusts of wind ranging from 0 to 30 kmph.  We decided to venture out. Rima looked like she was playing rodeo, being tossed up in the air like a rag doll.  Matty gracefully traversed the length of the glacier.  Inspired by Matty, Rima attempted to control her kite again and started to kite ski when the winds died!  Alas the winds did not return and one final day was spent playing rummy 500, eating, talking philosophy and taking a snow bath (temps were warm at -11 degrees celcius).

Matty has now returned back to Canada to deliver more polar training and Rima has returned to England to deliver training in how to program in VB, work more effectively with the MS office products......and to dream up of the next adventure.......

Note: Idea to the extent of global warming: Having chatted to some scientists,  multiyear ice has now been measured to be approx 6 ft deep.  In 1997 it was measured to be between 8 to 12 ft! 

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15th April: Sad to Go


Told we had to get onto the helicopter

Got picked up from the North Pole on the 14th April in white out conditions by an old monster Russian helicopter. As soon as we had touched down in Barneo, we were directed to go to the awaiting Antenov Russian cargo plane back to Longyearbyen. We were sad to leave as it all seemed so fast to leave the winds, ice and emptiness of the North Pole for an evening of beer and pizza in a crowded bar back in civilisation. It would have been great to have just enjoyed the moments for a couple more days.

Today we are spaced out, drying out gear, wandering about town directionless and airheaded. Thinking about eating more chocolate!!!

Matty reports one pimple has cleared up. Rima still scratching from eczema however still has 10 toes and 10 fingers.....and two ears and one nose! Off to kite ski for a couple of days up on the glacier. Will report when back.

P.S. Roentgen's flag was flown from a chop stick - for everyone in Singapore
The Union Jack was waved about for everyone in England
The Gesar Foundation flag was placed on a backdrop of ice with kids from 9 years to 15 years olds around it!


Singapore flag for my family, relatives, cuzzies
and friends

Union Jack for my relatives and friends 

 

 


Gesar Foundation with kids aged 9 to 15
who walked the last 5km to the North Pole

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Sent: Wed 4/13/08 8:45 PM - Arrived at the North Pole!

Hear the voice message update from today here (Bit of drift backward once more, and someone to greet us.)


GPS showing we've arrived at the North Pole

Started at: N 89° 48.41 E 068° 16.58
Final position: N 89° 59.99 E 012° 24.67

Barneo is now at N 88° 23 - which means we have skied 97 nm

Hello one and all this is radio gfi, go for it in the arctic with Matty and Rima. Well we woke today to find we had slid 1.2 nautical miles back. If we were going to make the north pole today we would have to ski 12 nautical miles.

Well we prayed for more flat pans and frozen leads and we got it. We prayed for a sunny still day and it was. The ankle has held up, the blisters have also been tolerable. And at 5.30pm Longyearbyen time we made ninety degrees.

We were greeted by a family who had snowshoed the last 5 km, as well as some other adventurers we had met when we had first started our journey. So now we have a thriving bustling tent city at the North pole. So for for all you investors out there come on out get you piece of pristene land, where all you'll see is polar bears and the shifting ice.


Rima and Matty at the North Pole

In the mean time Matty and Rima will continue to mess around over here, until we are picked up by the Russians. Thank you to all those who have been keeping up with our progress.

Thank you to Learning Tree for their support.

This is Rima reporting, and we'll up the the website with photos and details when we are back in civilisation in May. Bye for now.

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Sent: Wed 4/12/08 8:20 PM

Hear the voice message update from today here (Bit of open water, snoring, swollen ankle and blisters.)

Started at: N 89° 38.0 E 055° 11.6
Final position: N 89° 49.22 E 064° 02.07

We have 10.8 Nautical miles to go! Neither of us want to say anything in case the strong drifts start up.  Both of us want to make 90 degrees tomorrow.  It was a balmy -24°C and am managing the cold hands much better with the warmer days!

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Sent: Fri 4/11/08 6:46 PM


Matty checking out a route

N89 DEG 38MIN - 21NM 2 GO. VARIED DAY - STARTED SLOW. HIT MORE LEADS. DECIDED 2 RISK THIN ICE. LATER LOTS OF BIG RUBBLE 2 TRAVERSE...

..ENDED DAY SKIING A NICE BUMPY PAN. EATING V WELL BUT STILL LOSING WEIGHT! SMILING LOTS

Started at: N 89° 31.83 E 041° 15.82
Final position: N 89° 38.63 E 052° 22.80

It was a varied day, starting slow as we hit more leads, many with thin ice. We decided to risk some thin ice and crossed over. Later on we had to traverse stacks of rubble.

We ended the day skiing a nice bumpy pan. We are eating well and still smiling lots! Matty puts 50g of butter in our food for breakfast and another 50g lump for dinner to keep our fat up.

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Sent: Thu 4/10/08 7:38 PM


Yes! I got across and thankfully did not get swallowed by
a whale!

N89 DEG 31MIN E41 DEG 13. X 6 OPEN H2O LEADS. SWAM 1 IN POLAR SUIT. X SINGING ICE-ICE MOVING. DESPITE OPEN H2O - MADE GD PROGRESS. 29NM 2 GO

Started at: N 89° 25.30 E 033° 53.77
Final position: N 89° 31.56 E 041° 13.21

We encountered six open water leads. For the fun of it we decided to model Matty's swim wear and swim across one of the leads.

For the rest of the leads, we were able to find connection points where the leads had a "bridge" over for us to cross.  One sang to us (ice still moving slowly).  However despite the number of open water leads encountered, we made good progress. Now 29 Nautical miles to go!

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Sent: Wed 4/09/08 8:40 PM

Hear the voice message update from today here (A song, updates and wet feet)

Started at: N 89° 20.42 E 033° 47.81
Final position: N 89° 25.56 E 035° 11.14

The shifting ice had obviously created a number of fresh open water leads.  As we tried to cross a large lake size open water lead expanse, we were treated to a seal popping it's head up to wave hello to us and then nip back into the water.

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Sent: Tue 4/08/08 6:25 PM

LISTENED 2 RUMBLES, GROANS, CRASH + GRINDS OF ICE SHIFTING AT NITE. M CLD NT SLEEP SO NO BOUNCE IN SKI. GD 4 R AS EASIER ON ANKLE. HAD ICE FOG

LOCATION N89 DEG 22 E035 DEG 39. SKIED 6.8NM - SHIOK!

Started at: N 89° 14.95 E 030° 00.76
Final position: N 89° 22.17 E 035° 39.92


Our hotel with a sun dog

Last night Matty woke me up 'cause I was snoring.  She then rolled over, went to sleep and also started snoring.  I changed it into music!  However of more concern were the rumbles, groans, crashing and grinding of the ice shifting. I drifted back to sleep wondering if the ice would break below our hotel.  Decided I was a light enough sleeper to be able to bounce back into alert mode should I feel any vibrations below.

Matty did not sleep well.  Think my snoring might be keeping her awake :o( so no bounce in her ski?? Good day for Rima as much easier on ankle. Had ice fog today.

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Sent: Mon 4/07/08 7:58 PM

Hear voice message update from today here

Started at: N 89° 09.35 E 028° 48.40

Final position: N 89° 16.15 E 031° 13.90

Finally making distance!!  Voice message excitement about watching pressure ridges forming; lots of videoing by Matty.  Nearly poisoned ourselves today when our reusable hand warmer melted in the pot and we were drinking the water without realising it!

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Sent: Sun 4/06/08 6:57 PM

N89 DEG 10MIN DRIFTED 2.4NM LST NITE-TKS GOD FINALLY CAN MAKE GRD. ANKLE V SWOLLEN IN MORNING. TOOK ANTI-INFLAMS. STILL MANAGED 9NM. HAPPY.


Bra strapping
We had drifted to N 89° 03.84 E 027° 14.58  We finally had stayed in the 89 zone.....celebration time.  I strapped the ankle with my bra and thought I'd done a good job.  However Matty offers me some strapping tape.  Decided to be sensible and change the strapping over although it would mean I could not take it off as we only had a limited supply of tape strapping.  So no washing my right foot tonight.


Happy to take the "athelete's vitamins"!!!

Took anti-inflammatories.  One for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner.  We managed 9 nautical miles despite me taking more care not to roll the ankle.  So very happy with that.

Final position: N 89° 10.30 E 030° 47.24

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Sent: Sat 4/05/08 6:33 PM

N89 DEG 05MIN. DRFT EASED OFF-TKS GOD. TRVL 7.2NM+BK DRFT. GT DY BUT NOW GOT STRAINED ANKLE FM NOT TIE LACES WELL. WILL STRAP + C TOMORROW

Today we had drifted back to N 88° 57.30 E 021° 45.45, only 2 nm compared with the previous days 4 to 6 nm drifts.  We had a great day of skiing and was looking forward to 8 hours of skiing, however the ankle had become progressively worst and was too stiff to continue

After 7 hours and 7.2nm (excluding the back drift), had to ask Matty to find us a hotel.  She found a great spot to set up the tent.  Upon removing my socks the right ankle was fat and bruised.  More mental challenges.  Will strap it and see how it goes tomorrow.

Final position N 89° 05.30 E 021° 45.45

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Sent: Fri 4/04/08 6:18 PM

N88 DEG 59MIN. STILL TRVLNG BWARDS FM DRFT. BETTER DAY SKI AS COULD C. DID NT FOG GOOGLES! FOOD GOOD. NO PBEARS SEEN. 10Q 4 NICE MSGS

Today we had slid back to N 88° 55.5 E 018° 52.3.  We had a better day skiing as the wind was now down to 10kph.  In fact I really enjoyed the day compared to yesterday.  Yesterday I questioned whether  I could do this, today I felt great.  Being able to manage the foggy goggle syndrome and see where you're going makes a world of difference. 

Food wise has been great.  Back in the UK had told Matty that did not want to be eating lots of fabricated processed meals. We had some but had also prepared different types of food back in the UK ranging from cous cous, bulgar wheat, rice, pasta and noodle packages.

Final position N 89° 59.75 E 021° 23.57.  Praying the drift will ease up as it is starting to place doubt in our minds.

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Sent: Thu 4/03/08 6:38 PM

TRVL 5.2NM + 4.2NM DRIFT. MATTY CALLS TEMPS + WINDS 3xF. LOTS OF RUBBLE + SAW BEAR TRACKS HEADING NORTH.

 


View thru my clear goggles
We woke up to find we had slid back to N88°58.72, E014°03.15.  We had drifted 4.1nm backwards. Matty termed today's temperatures and winds the three Fs (all I can say is that the last word is Freezing - I'll let you guess what the other 2 Fs mean).

Matty sighted bear tracks heading North.  Guess the polar animal news gets around where the food migrates!


View from foggy goggles

There was lots of rubble and I struggled to get over it as my goggles were constantly fogging up. I tripped over many things as we encountered lots of rubble, and my right foot rolled a number of times.  I had thought that my boots were not tightened well.  However upon investigations, it appears that my right boot has more space than my left!

At the last hour had to change to snow shoes as was getting highly frustrated with lack of vision and stumbling over everything.  Today I feel low in esteem as have been like a young child, and Matty has been like a mother....to the extent that I had to ask her to zip up my parker due to numb hands.

Due to the drift, Victor (from Vicaar agency) offered to place us in a more positive location with some other groups.  We declined the offer and decided to see if we could win this mental battle.  The early polar explorers never had the luxury of being "air lifted" to a better location - so why should we!

Our final position for the day was N 89° 55.5 E 017° 23.6

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Sent: Wed 4/02/08 8:09 PM

DRIFTED 2 88 DEG 57MIN (4.8NM DRIFT). SKIED 7HRS=6.2NM. GREAT-DAY. TEMP = -40 DEG + CEL. EARS/CHEEKS OK.

Rise and shine in Barneo, we found that we had drifted to N 88° 57 minutes (that a 4.8 Nautical mile drift).  We started our journey North and skied for 7 hours.  It was a hard slog pulling a pulk weighed down for 20 days.  Matty reminds me that this is the normal weight for a resupplied expedition from Canada to the North Pole.

Matty amazingly seemed to have little problems pulling her double pulk.  I offered to pull it for the last 1.5 hours and struggled pulling it over pressure ridges and lumps in the uneven ground. 

We got to N 89° 02.1 E 011° 54.9 (6.2nm from Barneo).  Today's temperatures were -30°C, however with the 16-20kph winds prevailing, temperatures went down further to -40°C.

Ears and cheeks were okay as kept them warm.

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Sent Tue 4/01/08 6:13 PM


North Pole Marathon - running laps ain't for me!

AT LAST DEGREE = 89. MARATHON RUNNERS STILL RUNNING AFT 7HRS. JOINED 1 RUNNER 4 FINAL LAP. FUN! SADLY GT FROSTBITE ON EARS/FNIP ON CHEEK. BUT OK

At last degree North 89°. Matty wants to stay a night at Barneo since we had a bad night's sleep.  Since the marathon runners are still running after 7 hours, decided to join one runner for his final lap.

Unfortunately got a bit of frostbite on the ears and frostnip on the cheeks due to having not enough face coverage.  I had sweated but the -30 degrees celcius combined with a little breeze froze the beads of sweat.  However having seen the Russian doctor (Stac), everything is okay.

I was very apologetic to Matty for my foolishness that could have jeopardised the expedition.  She made me go for a ski around the course to get over me feeling sorry for myself as well as look for teddy Jane - who I had dropped as I accompanied Christer around the course.

We found teddy!

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1st April: Barneo

We stayed in the airport as we needed to be on standby for the technical plane that would transport us to the ice at about 89°.  Throughout the night we could hear the warehouse doors below us opening and closing, and at 2:30am our unrestful sleep was broken further by someone frantically knocking on our door.  It was Mikhail from Vicaar Agency alerting us that we had to get ready now as our gear needed to be transported at 03:30am.

Groggy-eyed, we got our pulks and equipment to the warehouse doors.  Matty's double-pulk would weigh in by the time we added 7 gallons of fuel, approx 80 kg (one and half times her body weight).  Mine would weigh in at 60 kg (just about my body weight) with 20 days worth of food.

Two other teams left with us; a Czech trio and an Australian quartet.

29th March: Into the glacier's heart


Ice crystals forming over head

With headlamps and our new found musician friend, we headed back up the glacier to the ice cave.

Into the heart of the glacier we shimmied, we slithered, we crawled, we awed at the chandelier ice structures that hung above us and the feathery crystals that had formed.

Walked into town to rent a gun (mandatory for polar bear protection) and we're now off to listen to Victor (our Russian counterpart) talk about his trans-Antarctic expedition

28th March: Longyearbyen

Spoke to Russian contact. Says everything will be ready on the 1st April. Also said I couldn't join the marathon :o(


Matty showing me how not to eat snow - kite skiing

Easterly winds blew down the valley at a rate of 30 kmph. Matty's eyes lit up with excitement and I knew she meant kiting. Way cool!

The last time I kited was in 15 kmph with a 2.5m Rage. Tried it in ground storm conditions, had lift off and had to eat snow using face as shovel. It was cool. Matty demonstrated the sleek option....

(Matty writes) Rima invites all the strays to a four course dinner........
Apertiser: Deep fried chicken skin (thai style)
Starter: Crayfish soup
Main course: Bryani rice with a chicken coconut lemongrass curry and stirred fried veggies
Great singing and guitar playing until 2am

27th March: Hot Body, Cold Hands and Cheeks

Having spoken to a hotch potch of international scientists in the Spitsbergen Guesthouse, we learned of an ice cave to explore on the glacier.

Good excuse to go somewhere and to practice cross country skiing. Up the valley, onto the glacier, found I had to strip down to just 2 layers to cool down, however the face and hands were still stinging with cold. Thankfully Matty had some great ideas about how to regulate my heat.

Up on the glacier, we went into an ice cave. Fragile ice crystals up to 10 inches long greeted us hanging down at the entrance and as we shimmied down. Ice walls lined the passage, revealing the heart of the glacial till.

We hope to return with a glaciologist who will be able to tell us more secrets.

26th March: Delays :o(

The plan was - sort out gear, prep pulks for tomorrow. However, our pick up dropped us first to see Victor (Russian counterpart). Bad news - Barneo has not been completed due to the tractor (used to flatten the area for a run way) being badly dropped when it was released over the chosen area. A part is required to repair the vehicle, that Victor has said will come in tonight and hopefully Barneo will be completed in a couple of days. Eesh kebabs

So our pulks are now packed, ready to go. Will have to think of things to do tomorrow.......and maybe the day after.

However, just found out there is to be a running marathon around Barneo. Victor will be looking to drop these guys first so that they can complete their race. Will investigate to see if I can join. Or perhaps I better check Matty is okay with me doing that :o)

25th March: Arrival

We arrived finally at our destination 6 hours late having had to hop to different airports due to bad weather and frozen runways.

However the airline has been really kind to us especially with us carrying 121kg of gear.

So after a long 12 hour journey to travel from Bergen to Longyearbyen, we were pleasantly surprised when our Russian counterparts met us at the airport and helped us with all our gear and drop us off at our hotel.

With 4 hours sleep, we are intending to go to bed early........so I must get off this computer! Matty has been keeping me away from computers......was so happy to see this one sitting in the hotel lobby

Good night all :o)