Tuesday, 31 March 2009

March 30th

30th March

Eric and Sarah were off to a friend’s wedding this morning. This took place on the sea ice and the bride arrived by dog sled. As you do ...

We made it to the airport early only to be given a 50/50 chance of the flight going. Luckily things in Resolute had brightened and we were allowed to board the plane...only to be told that it had a flat tyre. Before we could panic about just how many spare aeroplane tyres a small town like Iqaluit might have, they had replaced it and we were finally flying for Resolute.

At this time of year it doesn’t get dark in Resolute until 10pm and soon there will be 24 hours daylight. This, and hopefully some good weather, will enable us to do some training for the expedition during our stay. Getting used to walking on ice, pulling a sled and acclimatising to the cold will be really important before we begin the expedition proper.

Discussing our route with locals, we’ve been told that there is a lot of open water in the area we want to walk through - and a shed load of bears. Tomorrow we'll need to look at the options...

March 28th

28th March
We took the flight to Resolute this morning. The small plane stops in Iqaluit where you transfer to an even smaller plane for the 1000 mile trip north. Waiting in the airport, Mark was mistaken for someone who had agreed to buy a shotgun. How many other airports allow people to sell each other guns in the terminal? However, this turned out to be a stroke of luck.

While we were waiting (and trying not to buy a shotgun) we found out that bad weather in Resolute had cancelled our flight. Luckily the shotgun guy was Eric - the son of Matty McNair. Matty had recently led Richard Hammond’s dog sled Top Gear trip to the Magnetic North Pole – an expedition Mark had also worked on. Eric and his sister Sarah, who have both achieved some staggering expeditions themselves, were kind enough to put us up for the night.

So with an unexpected night in Iqaluit, Becky and Phil took the opportunity to take in a local concert by some local musicians. Apparently the accordion music really rocked!

Meanwhile it was -28°C in Iqaluite today; the locals are pleased to see that spring has arrived at last!

Welcome! March 25th, 26th, 27th

27th March
Today we finished the last bits of shopping in Ottawa – our last chance for 300 miles (and you thought it was a long way to the corner shop). The team spent the evening packing kit and breaking out their meals for each day. We are having an early night ready for our flight up to the Arctic tomorrow.

26th March
The food for the expeditions arrived today. We eat dehydrated vacuum packet meals which are extremely high in calories and actually pretty tasty. We’ll also snack all day to make up for the energy we’ll use, so well be buying chocolate, cheese and pepperoni by the trolley load.
The meal variety is pretty good and it needs to be! Over the next month we’ll spend hours in the tent discussing favourite sweets, puddings fresh fruits and, of course, our fantasy first meal when we get back! After a hard day’s shopping for kit we ordered room service back at the hotel - but only after discussing the relative merits of the fillet steak dip and mascarpone whipped potato.

25th March

We flew from Heathrow on Wednesday; it took us about an hour to find the long term car park where the ‘special knockdown price’ was apparently achieved by locating it in the next county… Checking-in sledges onto modern airlines is a matter of negotiation.

We were stopped by “Barbara” who took issue with both our size and weight - worrying as we had almost empty pulks (sled). By unpacking the pulk we ducked under the 30kg limit on the scales to get the rubber stamp. We then just managed to sneak all the kit back into the pulk again before it was carried off!

Ottawa was a balmy 10°C when we arrived which was a worry. We are relying on snow to get across the land on Devon Island: If we are hauling over gravel this could be a long trip.

Welcome to my blog!

I hope you enjoy tracking the progress of the expedition over the next few weeks. As you know we are trying to walk between the two most northerly Inuit settlements - Resolute Bay and Grise Fjord.

There are five of us on the expedition, Ian Hibbard, Phil de Berger and Rebecca McNight, myself and Mark Wood. Mark and I went to the Arctic in 2006 and he is now a fulltime explorer and our leader.

I plan to post an entry every couple of days (weather and technology permitting!). Straight off I’d like to thank Jon Heggie for helping me collate and moderate the blog from the UK without whom you'd get much shabbier spilling and gramma.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Thanks for visiting! I'll be posting blogs as they arrive but we are still awaiting news from the Arctic. If Ryan is on schedule he should be out on the ice acclimatising around Resolute Bay (pictured above). The weather there is -23c (feels like -31c) with light flurries of snow. Resolute's Innuit name is 'Qausuittuq'. This rather ominously translates as 'Place with no dawn'. And that's the civilised start of Ryan's journey ...

Thursday, 5 March 2009