Post 1: Greetings from the Arctic!
09.04.2011 – 2nd day on skis
After a great hassle on both airports – Helsinki-Vantaa and Oslo – we managed to get ourselves and all our gear to
Longyearbyen at Thursday afternoon and were greeted with -14 Celcius, strong wind and spindrift. Getting rooms for everyone in Mary Ann’s was a bit difficult as the hostel was full of people heading to Barneo ice station and to ski the last degree to the Pole. They should have left before we arrived but the runway of the ice station had apparently cracked in half which caused the hostel to be over-booked. Dispite the problems we got rooms, did some shopping, put the gear into a warehouse and ate tasty and expensive (everything is expensive in Longyearbyen!) hamburgers. In the evening some of went to adjust their gear, some went to bar and some did both.
Friday started with a breakfast in the hostel. THen we did once again some more packing and were ready to leave at midway. We loaded our gear – around one metric ton all combined – to a bandvagn and started a three and half hours drive towards Fredheim. THe ride was nice as the heater of the vehicle worked. At Fredheim we unloaded the gear and after lunch we jumped on our skis around 16:30. Tempelfjorden was forzen enough for us to ski across it. The heavy sleds tipped and jammed constantly in the rubble ice but made it across. On the opposite shore we skied on broken ice floes that moved with the waves. Quite an experience! After five legs of skiing we arrived at the mouth of the Gipsdalenelva river and set camp on the sea shore which meant a night with bear guard duty. Unfortunately (?) we didn’t see any bears but there was a spectacular sunset! During the evening the temperature had risen from -8 Celsius close to zero and wind had died causing me to roast in my very warm Cumulus sleeping bag.
The dawn broke with light snow, varying visibility and mild temperature. We broke the camp at 11:00 as agreed because of the late arrival on the previous evening. We skied six legs in the aforementioned conditions through a beatiful mountaneous valley of Gipsdalen covering some 15 kilometers for the day. Dispate the fact that our sleds weight about 80 kilo each, they feel surprisingly light! It doesn’t feel much different than 40-50 kilo sled that I am used to haul. This is partly because of the mild temperature as there is not that much friction to slow the sled. I’d hope that the temperature would drop a bit as skiing in these temperatures is sweaty job! Though I don’t miss the wind at all..
At the moment we have eaten, melted snow and are having some good time p reparing for tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have over 500 vertical meters of ascent with the sleds so it is a though day a head!
We have some technical difficulties sending pictures, so you have to wait for them for a while. When we get things running there should be pics updated daily to the official expeditions blog.
All well for the expedition.