Pole to Pole Run with Icetrek Expeditions

Mar 26

Dispatch #2

Published at 10:14
Dispatch created from email
Svalbard is a difficult place to ski. It's mountainous, with steep
passes that you have no alternative but to climb if you want to reach
the other side. The weather in March is variable from blizzards to
clear skies with bitter cold. We had it all on our four day training
trip. On the 22nd we skied from our cosy apartment and headed south up
a long valley and over a pass into Fardalen valley where we camped
amongst the reindeer. It was Pat's first polar night in a tent, the
first of many we will share over the coming weeks. He did fine and so
of course did Clark who previously traversed Victoria Island in the
Canadian Arctic. Overnight Clark sent video footage via Iridium sat
phone, testing the system we will be using almost daily on the Arctic
pack ice. Next day we skied down the narrow Fardalen valley to
Cordalen, a wide valley that spills into Colesbukta (Coles Bay). The
scenery is stunning with mountains, glaciers and a coating of ice in
the bay. We passed Grumant, a spooky abandoned Russian coal mining
village, and took shelter from the -23C cold in a hut nearby called
Russanovodden. A wind sprang up overnight and, together with the minus
twenties, we battled very difficult conditions as we backtracked up
Fardalen. The headwind morphed into a full blizzard which at times
would stop us in our tracks. Visibility was nigh impossible and we
groped blindly up the valley for hours, finding no leeward shelter and
pitching tent by late afternoon in the full brunt of the blizzard. We
threw ourselves inside and made life cosy again with warm food, drink
and banter. I could not have hoped for better conditions in which to
train because the Arctic Ocean can match Svalbard and more. We
discovered many things amongst our new clothing and equipment that
needs tweaking over the next week to make life more comfortable on the
ice. Next morning the wind dropped and skies cleared and we could at
last see the route - we had camped right on target. A massive climb
out of the valley had our legs pumping, the reward being a cruisy
descent back to Longyearbyen. Later in the afternoon we picked up our
final team member from the airport, cameraman and guide Jose Naranjo
from Spain. We are complete and I salute Pat, his project manager Greg
Quail and a burgeoning host of others in bringing us to the verge of
Pole to Pole Run. Eric
  • Accumulated distance: 0 m
  • Distance to go: 792 km

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