Arctic High 90 with Icetrek

Apr 16

#8:
Back in Norway

Published at 23:01
Dispatch created from email
Hi everyone

Well, we had quite an unexpected finish to our expedition. Where do I
begin? Our fourth day on the ice began with good spirit and confidence,
though the oppressive sky tried hard to dampen our spirits. Making
reasonable progress through the pressure ridges and snow drifts that
gathered overnight, we skied north through the mirk and the mire, enjoying
the challenge, appreciating the surreal icescape, working as a team,
exactly as we had done over the last three days. But Christophe had been
struck by a bug overnight and it sapped his energy like a sponge. The
Arctic is no place for such an ailment and we were stopped in our tracks
with no hope of continuing north, making camp after a couple of hours. Our
ski trip was over - tomorrow we needed to be on a plane out of Barneo back
to Norway. We were on schedule to complete the journey as planned,
motivated and inspired, but this time it just wasn't possible. The team was
incredibly pragmatic and accepting of the predicament and I felt humbled by
their good nature considering the goal lurked just beyond the horizon.
Tents pitched, sleeping bags out, stoves lit, inside for some R & R and in
depth analysis of the 'what if's' and two-hourly calls to Barneo to arrange
a helicopter pick-up in the questionable weather. Each time the answer was
an emphatic no - pilots are not keen to fly with such low contrast. So we
hunkered down for our fourth night on the ice and awoke to much the same
weather. But surprisingly the pilots came with a half-hour notice and
suddenly we were on the Mi-8 heading...south to Barneo. In the past teams
have not been able to reach the pole due to negative drift, slow progress
etc, but have always been offered a flight to the North Pole as a reward
for the hard work on the ice. To our dismay we were denied this opportunity
and flown unceremoniously back to Barneo. Why? A saga too great to unfold
here. But for those that know the team - Paul, Christophe, Fabio, Nat, Leo
and me - ask and ye shall be told. Needless to say the world is not so big
that the Arctic Ocean remains free of politics and posturing.

To this wonderful team, thanks for sharing the journey with me and may you
be content in the knowledge that ours was the noblest of challenges.
Although we didn't stand at ninety degrees, we experienced the North Pole
at its finest.
  • Accumulated distance: 33.1 km
  • Distance to go: 16.9 km

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