At 6.30 pm we completed our journey finishing hand-in-hand in glorious sunshine to spectacular views. No time to write any more as we fly out in two hours. Thanks for following the expedition. Love to you all. Dan X
After being stuck in a storm for two days and confined to our tents (apart from digging them out every 4 hours), we finally pushed on across the ice cap. Two days of pushing the dogs hard meant we made good progress; I have even been referred to as the Dog Master partly due to me wearing Ullric’s boots day (the true Dog Master). Today we reached Dye 2 the derelict cold-war US early warning station. We went inside, a truly spooky experience, full of abandoned equipment and artefacts. We have about four days of hard work left to our final destination and all is well. Hope you all have a good half-term, particularly Deb, Emma and Charlotte. Dan X
19-5-09. We have had three good days on the icecap and are currently making good progress. Yesterday we were shown some authentic Greenlandic skis made of wood and seal skin, they work perfectly, even in sticky snow where modern equipment fails. We left late afternoon to try to get better snow conditions and pushed on across the icecap until nearly midnight. Today we awoke to a windy day with poor visibility. The kite sails were unleashed and we were dragged across the snow, a really great way to polar travel if the prevailing wind is in the right direction. The highlight of the day was speaking to students and colleagues at the University of Bedfordshire. There were many insightful questions, but like everybody else they want to know about Polar Bears and toilets. Love to all friends and family. Dan
16-5-09. Day 8 on the ice (I think). Following the enforced stay in the tents for 36 hours, the team awoke to sunshine and bird song. We walked the morning for 3 hours, we then pitched tents for an afternoon snooze in the baking sun. We walked again until midnight, when we were seriously frozen and tired. The sunset was spectacular, but too out of it to really take it in. Today we managed 25km for the first time by having three teachers with the dogs a three skiing for 4 hours…progress. Good luck to all the students starting their exams, hope the family have a nice weekend.
12-5-09. Day 5 on the icecap. I have had an interesting 3 days…a day dog driving, Greenland Sledge Dogs are amazing they pull all day heavy loads with little encouragement needed. One got tangled in the leash and my attempts to rescue it led to a bitten hand, luckily I had gloves on. The next day, fresh from the day off of skis we made good progress in sunny weather covering 21.2 K. We are all tired and have sore feet from the constant pounding. Today another 23K in mostly white-out conditions, where it is hard to navigate and keep mind and body moving. But we are pleased with our progress and rest so we can battle another day. What keeps us going? Chocolate, haribo, pepparami and thought that every step takes us closer to our objective. More importantly back to our loved ones…I can see them all now; I send you a virtual hug. I am looking forward to my talk with Lordship Lane School tomorrow. All is well on the icecap. Daily up dates can be found on the Fuchs website.
After our six day wait, finally the weather clears and we get on to the ice cap. The best helicopter flight ever, took us through the mountains of Tasilllaq to a sun drenched wilderness. This is a truly amazing place, a vast desert of ice and snow that only the privileged experience…I count myself very lucky. We were met by Carl (Team Leader), and local Mushers Ullric and Salou, all tough cookies. We met the dogs, packed the sledges and the journey started, across the magnificent plateau. 5 hours of skiing and we arrived at our first camp, tired but happy. Looking forward to the next 22 days of graft, it is all worthwhile. Thoughts are with my family and friends, particularly my Nordic walking instructor.
From: Steve Bull [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 04 May 2009 22:14
Subject: First 3 days
3-5-09 Ammasialiq Greenland
The day began with more sorting of equipment. Tents were fettled, flasks insulated and food counted 50 bags of 5000 calories. Dehydrated meals, chocolate and haribo. After lunch we took our skis down to the frozen sea for a quick blast in this stunning place. We headed towards a group of locals fishing through the ice. One of the group was a local policeman who told us that the sea was 200m deep in this sport, he also wish used well for the challenging journey. He pointed us towards some polar bear tracks, apparently a bear had been through this area and chased a local getting within 6 m of him! This explains the screaming and shouting that Carolyn had heard. Tuesday up to the ice cap and the journey truly begins.
4-5-09 Carl left for the icecap today to get the dog teams sorted, the rest of us went to the local school to meet some year 8 and 9 pupils. The kids were great and it provided an interesting insight into the local community. Later we will pack are final bits and take the helicopter to meet Carl and dogs up on the icecap. Happy birthday Mum.
After a night in Iceland we were off again to Greenland. The views as we arrived at Kulusuk were beyond breathtaking, with a land of ice and stunning whiteness stretching as far as the eye could see. However, there was no time to stop and we were moving on again, this time by helicopter to Tasiilaq where we could recharge our batteries (literally!) and spend our last few nights eating proper food and sleeping in a bed- a luxury that we take for granted! We were able to meet with the local community and visit a local school to find out more about living and learning in the harsh Arctic environment.
In an attempt to refresh our minds (and bodies!) with our Nordic training we set of on our skis to observe the sea ice, only to find that someone or something had beat us to it! Fresh in the snow were the prints of a Polar bear... We later learnt that there had been reports of a sighting in the settlement that morning. This was a totally awesome yet humbling experience and unexpected for this time of year. We set off for the ice cap tomorrow (Tuesday) and the reality of what we are hoping to achieve fills me with a mixture of exhilaration and determination.
There was a relatively calm start to the day which rapidly descended into a number of stresses! Number one stress was how to get all the kit in the bag and weigh in at 20kg or under, luckily a kind neighbour lent me their bathroom scales which pivoted horribly close to the max. However, undeterred I managed to complete all packing by 11.20-big problem- I had to get to Stevenage to catch the train to HQ by 11.54. We set out with cynical optimism and true to form I was late! However, the fates were with us and after a short wait I was soon boarding the train and waving goodbye to my family-the last I would see of them until my return.
Friday brought a flurry of excitement and interest from a number of newspapers and BBC 3 Counties radio. At 7.50 pm I was interviewed live at the airport ; the tension and adrenalin were beginning to kick in and I was soon heading for Iceland...
No real time to update the blog as I pack and spend some quality time with the family. However, there are two important scientific questions to face 1) How do you fit 250 litres of kit into a 120 litre bag? 2) The Arctic teachers face the eternal question-how many pairs of pants do you need to cross Greenland? I think Nansen would have done it in 2. Keep your thoughts positive. Dan
Well nearly time to leave. I do not know where the time is gone, it does not seem that I have been preparing for things for over a year. We lead such busy life’s what with work, family and occasional sleep. I have had a good week with things beginning to finally coming together....the finance is in place(thanks to UoB, J&S, Sangers), final bits of kit sorted (thanks to Alpkit, Chocolate fish and Howies) and a feel in a good space (both mind and body). It has been really good to talk to friends and family (John, Sue, Jack, Resh, Tim, Mike, Paul, Nicola etc). Wouldn’t even be going if it was not for my close family members. Thanks one and all, hope you enjoy following the journey. Dan