An account of the Expedition’s Key Moments

Published on 23.04.2010 - Generali Arctic Observer

As a final clapperboard of this original expedition, Explorapoles is publishing here a summary of what the French explorer had to say during the press conference that he gave at his sponsor's, the Generali insurance company, on 16 April.

An Account of the Expedition's Key Moments

Jean-Louis Etienne: "First of all, the emotion of the departure from Longyearbyen. It was something quite extraordinary, a moment of a great intensity with a splendid landscape and images, as I had imagined them. Then as of the following day, Tuesday, I encountered my first moments of fear with the obligation to fly at low altitude over the Spitzberg, in fog and in the vicinity of the mountains. I was taken by a katabatic wind. Then, a magical moment: the crashing noise of the icecap that I was looking at from above. The Wednesday was a day of storm and I was violently shaken this way and that, with the solar panels going up on the gondola. No possibility of sleep under such conditions. On the Thursday, I was obliged to ascend to a higher altitude in order to solve the on-board energy problems and to recharge my batteries. That took me away me from the route towards Alaska and we started to imagine an arrival in Siberia. On the Friday, I found myself at an altitude of 5,000 metres, heading towards Siberia. Then a deep sleep and I awoke with altitude sickness, and with hallucinations: I was seeing someone near me and I was hearing voices. I told myself that "it's normal". I knew what it was as I'd experienced high mountain altitudes. A testing moment for the organism and an obligation to breathe oxygen at times. Finally on the Saturday, the landing in Yakutia (Siberia). I had had the idea that a crossing of the North Pole occurred from ground to ground, therefore why not Siberia, even though, for logistical reasons, we preferred Alaska. The wager was won, but I had to wait a while before my team could join me in the middle of nowhere. In Yakutia, we didn't know anybody: it wasn't easy. I would like to take this opportunity to pay homage to my wife, Elsa, who, involved in the organisation of the expedition, helped to settle the thorny problem of my flying over Siberia without permission. The next day at around 10:00, the helicopter and the team arrived to recover me, but a new adventure began: the welcome by the Russian authorities and the FSB, which interviewed me for hours on end on three occasions. At 18:00, I was to be released and my return could start to be organised."

Scientific Measurements

"I took various atmospheric air samples at altitude. Those measurements of atmospheric CO2 and suspended particles will now be analysed. All the data will be sent next week to the various laboratories for which we were working, in particular the CEA Leti and the Environmental Sciences Laboratory. I hope that this data will help to refine the models used by the people who are working on global warming problems on a daily basis".

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