Ghosts and Phantasmagoria

Published on 13.06.2007 - The Arctic Arc

Ice Chaos

Ice Chaos

© International Polar Foundation

The expedition's landscapes have come to a beautiful ending. Since yesterday, Hubert and Dansercoer have been progressing in an almost unreal world.

Extremes are no longer enough to describe what the two Belgian explorers are now going through. They, whom are not on their first trial, thought that they had already seen it all on these northern ices. Wrong! For two days now, the landscapes they have been seeing seem to have been pulled out from an old book relating first polar explorers' adventures. Everyone knows those old yellowed lithographs which show men and animals confronting 10-metre high waves, even higher ice walls and entangled ice blocks that are scarier than any other chaos.

"We are submerged by unreal conditions..."

"We are in a real labyrinth", explains Alain Hubert. "We have the impression that we will never get out of this. Every twenty minutes, we fall into a hole all the way up to our chest, the snow being so thick. We break our necks at least once an hour. The compression ridges are higher than any other we have crossed since the beginning of our trip; they are impressive and even scary. We are straight out submerged by unreal conditions. There is also the mist that makes the sun rays shine through as watermarks. It forms a sort of huge bubble around us and seems to not want to approach us too much; visibility is thus good up to about 200 or 300 metres. After that, it's another world. And the shape of the ice is just incredible, colossal. Perhaps this is a very typical zone serving as a buffer between what we call the "fast ice" (ice which is constantly stuck to the continent) and the sea ice itself. I don't know. But what I do know is that there is absolutely no comparison between what we can see off the Ward Hunt coast and the scene that we have had before us since yesterday. If we weren't so close to our goal, I think this environment would spook me out..."

Predictions

We don't know yet the precise arrival date and hour of the two men on the Greenland coast. But, from what we've heard, they should be setting up their last camp on Thursday night. Not before. Because, after a brief telephone call to the Head Quarters this morning, Alain was telling us that that which awaits him for today, Wednesday June 13, (at least as far as he has been able to see, looking from above an ice pick several metres high) looks even more dreadful. As far as the date on which the expedition will be picked up, it is currently scheduled for next Tuesday.

Many of you have asked us why the expedition has stopped at this point, although it was supposed to continue until the south of Greenland. We will publish tomorrow a press release which will explain the causes of this itinerary change and why Alain and Dixie decided to stop along the Greenland coast.

The Website of the Day

The daily article joins somewhat the theme that was already tackled yesterday and which, for us, seems to be extremely important: the opening up of the Northwest Passage to commercial shipping. This article was written by Larry West, it is entitled "Melting Arctic Ice could open Northwest Passage and lead to Environmental Disasters" and was published by About.com on November 6, 2006. "About.com" is a branch of the New The New York Times Company.

According to the author's sources, this passage could be navigable as soon as 2015. The dangers do not seem to concern so much the huge maritime companies which will not run the risk of striking an iceberg, as much as the less well kept up ships which sail under the Panamanian, Filipino or Liberian flag.

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Sir Ranulph Fiennes is back in the Antarctic for a world first. He will lead a team of explorers to conquer…



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