They have come upon the true Arctic !

Published on 20.04.2007 - The Arctic Arc

On a frozen lead

On a frozen lead

© International Polar Foundation

On the one hand, they have suffered as never before from what Hubert calls the sheer hellish world of the north. On the other hand, they are liking it...

Yesterday, April 19th, a complete chaos. The real hellish world of the north. Fifty times, sixty times, maybe more: the men can't even remember how many leads, chaos and unpredictable ice bridges they had to cross anymore, nor even how many times they had to embark their sledges on dangerous surfaces. However, what they do know is that on top of the storm and of the East/South East winds over 50 km/h, there was water everywhere. Moreover, the obstacles blending into the scenery to such an extent, visibility (not more than 150 metres) did not allow them to aim and trace the direction to follow. "When are we ever going to see the sun?", shouted Dixie on the satellite phone from the back of the tent. "We have had just about enough of this peasouper."

"What I do not understand", added Hubert, "is all this young ice which has made us suffer today. We are about 80 km away from the pole and we are confronted with a kind of terrain – a sort of swamp – which we are not used to seeing over on this part of the sea ice. Normally, here, the ice is older and more stable. But this time, they are dislocated and cracked open by water leads, as though everything had been disrupted. It really was hell, the real Arctic, that which we fear, but also that which we came to find here."

This morning, since the barometer was a little higher (1008 millibars), Alain and Dixie decided to break camp even though visibility was really bad. They were quickly slowed down by two big leads, one 50 metres wide, the other over 100 metres wide. As a result, two and a half hours were lost. The remainder of the day, progression was made with water up over their feet.

Like yesterday, they were swept by fear each time they had to cross a lead and then happy as a kid whenever the lead had been conquered. And, in the end, when the evening camp had been set up, a huge satisfaction of, first, having taken off despite the storm, and, second, to have progressed almost 24 km in a single day. In short, the pole is getting closer.

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