Progressing at one kilometre an hour

Published on 12.05.2007 - The Arctic Arc

Dixie pulling his sledge

Dixie pulling his sledge

© International Polar Foundation

The terrain on which the two men have been progressing since the 88th degree is, despite their unflagging optimism, failing to improve. Yesterday morning, it took them three hours to cover the first three kilometres!

On the photos of the ice pack that we have just received and which we will publish today, you will be able to better realize the hell in which they are immersed. Putting on skis is out of the question in these conditions (in fact Alain and Dixie have not been able to ski since they have left the Pole, only walk). This has turned out to be a forced march over a cruel terrain.

In addition to this tortuous mass of ice blocs through which they are having to carve their way, there is also the snow to consider. It falls incessantly almost every day, and covers everything, camouflaging every danger with an innocuous thick blanket.

Back to yesterday's progression, for the first three hours, the two men worked together, being that it was impossible to pull the sledges alone over the mass of blocs. They had to physically manhaul the sledge over a hundred metres, then return for the second one and cover the same ground. Over and over.
"You have to understand" said Alain over the Iridium satellite phone yesterday, "these blocks that we are encountering can measure anything up to three or four metres (10-13ft) high! And Dixie, who was pushing from the back would begin to shout and coax with each effort, as though he were driving a beast of burden with me being the beast up in front whom had to obey each injunction. We had a good laugh with that, despite the incredible effort we were having to deploy. Luckily, we can still laugh at times like this. If I hadn't already repeated this over and over again, I would say that today was one of the most awful and most tiring days of the entire Expedition, and we have had quite a few! But is there any point in repeating this...?"

Yesterday evening the pair was 549 kilometres away from the beginning of the Victoria Fjord which they intend to enter to reach the Greenland ice cap.They have already progressed 254 kilometres since they have left the North Pole about 16 days ago.

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