We have reached N81?30’25” and E101?27’38” after having had a very good day.
Ice conditions change very quickly up here, this time for the better. One hour after starting our day, we passed through a wall of screw ice unto a long, snow-covered plain. It felt just wonderful to ski on this huge ice floe! Things were a bit more challenging toward the end of the day, but that wasn’t so bad. It looks like we’re through the most difficult areas. And as I mentioned to you this morning, we’re drifting northward – 2 km last night and probably a bit during the day as well. We walked 17 km and have pitched our tent 19 km north of last night’s camp. There is 949 km to go before we reach the North Pole.
It’s been a good day, especially taking into account that we had to spend a fair bit of time crossing open leads along the way. We swam three times today. When we reach a lead, we first search for a way across. If we don’t see one reasonably quickly, we find the narrowest point with good ice on both sides, then don our waterproof suits. Most of these leads are between 10 and 50 metres wide. We swim it all in one go, pulling the pulks with us. If there is a thin layer of sea ice on the lead, then I swim first with one of the largest pulks, using it as an icebreaker – and Mike follows with the rest of the pulks in the channel that I’ve opened up.
After we’re safely on the other side, we do as the polar bears do – roll in the snow so it absorbs the seawater. That way our suits are dry almost immediately. All in all, depending on the width and difficulty, it takes us 15–30 minutes to cross the lead and be ready to go again. We’ve got the routine down pat, so there is really no problem swimming, but it is a bit tiresome.
Today I almost had an accident. We were passing across a wide snow-covered lead, and couldn’t really see clearly what was below the snow. Suddenly the ice must have been thinner, because it collapsed underneath me. I turned like lightning and managed to make it back. It all happened so quickly – and I’m grateful that I reacted fast enough.
The nightmare above all nightmares is to fall through the ice. That can be deadly this far north.
It’s been snowing all day. I must tell you that it’s a strange experience to cross these leads in the darkness, with only our headlights while the snow is falling. Pretty exciting, really, but very strange. And when we’re skiing, I feel like I’m in a tunnel. There is only this cone of light ahead of us, and this ghostlike landscape. It’s a harsh and wild landscape, but incredibly beautiful. I feel we’re on a very special adventure, and each day we get to see and experience something new.
I think we tire more easily because of the darkness. All day we’re straining to see what surrounds us, searching for the best path ahead. We’re rather exhausted at the end of the day. Today we walked 9 hours, yesterday 9.5 – Mike and I have been putting in long hours to make it through the most difficult areas as quickly as possible. Now it looks like our conditions have improved. Let us hope that it stays that way, allowing us to make good progress toward our goal. We’re concentrating on one degree of latitude at a time. The first goal is N82? – and now we’re halfway there.
View 5 comments