Well, our story continues… We have arrived safely at Ice Base Borneo. The first helicopter landed here yesterday – before that, there was only barren ice. But yesterday the Russian arrive, set up their first tents, and received an airdrop of fuel and necessities from Murmansk. Then their helicopter flew to pick us up at the North Poles, landing at 18h00 last night, Norwegian time. The flight only took 15–20 minutes. This year Ice Station Borneo is situated at N89°32’ – in other words very close to the North Pole.
Yes, Mike and I have met civilization again, or at least its most northerly outpost, after having been on our own for over two months.
The plan was to stay in the spacious tents that the Russians have set up. But it was simply too hot for us there – and far too noisy and full of smoke. We decided to set up our tent once again and stay there. I suppose we felt a need to retreat. It’s good to have a haven that is only ours, so we slept in the tent as usual.
It’s been great to have that option, while feeling most welcome to visit the Russians’ camp, to warm ourselves and enjoy meals there. We’re not suffering any discomfort. We have arrived safely, and we’re both fine, physically and mentally. Mike is more than eighty percent recovered, and it will soon be ninety percent. He’s on the last round of antibiotics and his body seems to be healing really well.
The key to positioning Ice Base Borneo is to find a good runway. They require a nice and smooth and wide lead that has been frozen since early this winter, and which hasn’t been ruined by compression and pack ice. That’s why the latitude of this drifting ice base can vary so much from year to year, depending on the ice conditions.
The Russian team has found the perfect lead, and it is right nearby. But surrounding it there is loose ice and it is covered with snow. To clean the “runway” they use a small tractor equipped with a snowplough. Well, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Yesterday they dropped this tractor from the aeroplane – but the parachute failed to open. When it hit the ice hard it shattered into a thousand pieces. Tomorrow they are flying in a new tractor to clear the icy airstrip. It will be a while before it’s ready, but they still have a week before the plane is coming to pick us up. That lands here on April 2.
We will try to send you some photos from life at Borneo. Our daily routine is very relaxed now, we’re giving a helpful hand here and there, but mostly we are just kicking back and getting used to the thought of returning to civilization and the life that we must gradually once again become a part of at home.View 4 comments