Five days, four kilometres

Published 26.01 in category North Pole 2006

It’s been a hard day with very difficult conditions. I really can’t remember ever encountering ice up here that was so broken up. We have crossed 15 leads today, where we’ve been forced to cross water, slushy sea ice, screw ice and smaller ice. And that is what we have to manoeuvre through. It’s been heavy and slow going. The largest ice floe has been no more than 500 metres long. All day we have been moving forward on poor, thin ice.

So all day has been like that. We just called it a day. It took us 9 hours to walk 7 km – and believe me, that is very good under these conditions. And when I say 7 km, I’m only counting from our position this morning, not the GPS of where we set up camp last night. We’re still drifting southwards at a pace of six or seven kilometres every 24 hours. That means we are 970 km from the North Pole.

We are just 4 km north compared to our first camp at Cape Arktichesky – and we have used five days to cover that ground. Five hard days and… (poor connection) …recipe is to carry on, continue as we have, work our way through it all. There is no other solution.

Hans Ambuehl is interpreting satellite photos, telling us what the conditions are up ahead. They’re pretty coarse and it’s difficult to interpret exactly what is there, but the sequence of photographs confirms our eastward and somewhat southern drift. The weather report is good, and the wind the wind will prob… (broken connection, new call)

… so mild. Temperatures have been –5 to –10?C. And that is really bizarre. It’s strange that it hasn’t been 40 below. The sea won’t freeze when it is this warm. With an acceptable temperature, say minus 20–25 Centigrade, things would have frozen during the night. But that’s not happening now. And so there is a lot of open water, and that really takes time – that’s all there is to it. We need a little better ice.

Other than that, we’re doing fine. The two of us are working well together, taking turns leading, shining a headlight into the darkness to find a route. That’s how our days pass. We’re starting to get into a routine, but it’s only after a fortnight or so that the rhythm flows… (dissolved connection)



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