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June 1st 2002 - Day 81

90° NORTH - ON TOP OF THE WORLD !
CLICK HERE to hear Caroline and Ann talking about their amazing trip.

At 5:50 GMT (June 2nd), Ann and Caroline reached the North Pole setting the following World records:

(1) Caroline and Ann are the first female British explorers to have trekked to the geographic North Pole as part of an 'all female' expedition.
(2) As members of the 2000 M&G ISA Challenge Expedition to the geographic South Pole, Caroline and Ann are the first female explorers in history to have trekked to both geographic Poles as part of 'all female' expeditions.

Caroline and Ann have done this without the help of either professional guides or men; they themselves are professional explorers and have proved that women are the equal of men in what was once considered to be a very male dominated environment. The girls are intensely proud of what they have achieved and just want to show all females out there that two ordinary women really can achieve the extra-ordinary.

Wow. What an amazing feeling of elation, excitement and relief.
We found the Pole using our GPS and guess what, it was in the middle of an open lead. Fortunately no need for swimming, though – we found our way onto a small island of ice and suddenly we were on the very top of the world. Pom was there in spirit. We hugged each other, planted the Union Jack and sang the National Anthem. Not a single note in tune, not a single note coinciding.

It was absolutely fantastic – unbelievable to be there at last. We put the tent up, took photos and celebrated with a tiny bottle of whisky and mugs of potato and beef stew. Then we were up and off again to find a flat piece of ice for the Twin Otter to land on. Fortunately, we found something half a mile from the Pole and before long we were on our way home. First stop was Eureka, a small weather station at 80º North where we looked in the mirror and had our first shower for 81 days. Also, lavatory paper, knives and forks and communicating with other people – all of which were alien. Then back to Resolute last night for a wonderful welcome and more celebration with DianeGuy (unfortunately Gary is out of town). The Party at the Palace on television brought it home what a momentus weekend this has been.

We have received hundreds of messages from all over the world and we’d like to thank everyone who has followed the expedition. Knowing you were all rooting for us has meant so much throughout. Above all, words cannot express how much we owe to M&G and our other sponsors, Julian Mills and Zoe Hudson at base camp, and Martin and Sarah Knight who have designed and run the website. All have worked tirelessly day and night to support us and, quite simply, without them we could never have done what we have done.

Next stop: the UK. We should be home on Friday, June 7 and we’re really looking forward to being back with friends and family.


They made it - Caroline and Ann at the North Pole - June 2nd 2002

© North Pole 2002 Ltd


At the North Pole
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Elation, excitement and relief
© North Pole 2002 Ltd



May 31th 2002 - Day 80

SO CLOSE THEY CAN ALMOST SMELL IT

Position: Latitude 89 51' .20"N Long 75 49W
Weather - Started a bit cloudy with a bit of snow but then cleared at about midday.
Distance travelled today: 10 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 383 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 9 N Miles

The sun showed its face at midnight, and after a long day they need to get some sleep. But with only 19 miles left to go, Caroline is too excited and can't sleep, as she chats away, Ann who was feeling quite sleepy, also gets excited. Then Caroline falls asleep, leaving Ann awake thinking….


May 30th 2002 - Day 79

TORPEDO STYLE

Position: Latitude 89° 41' N Longitude 76° 28'W
Distance travelled today: 10 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 373 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 19 N Miles

The girls heard today that Tom and Tina had made it, and are overjoyed for them. They have achieved an awesome feat, and they have been constantly in their thoughts-well done. Ann and Caroline are trying not to get too excited as the Pole gets closer. But any excitement soon evaporated when they were faced with a lead soon after breaking camp. If the lead is just clear water and it is too wide to jump across, Caroline prefers to swim, whilst Ann paddles lying prostrate on her pulk. Having had a lot of open water recently, the leads have suddenly changed, it is like going back in time to how they were about 3 or 4 weeks ago as they are semi frozen, and full of ice. These are too difficult to swim through, so rather than lowering the pulk and paddling, if the height of the bank is favourable, Caroline lines up her pulk on the ice, lies on top of it, then Ann launches her like a torpedo across to the other side. Ingenious ways of crossing a lead - Lesson 10. The first half of the day was horrid and continued in a similar vein, with a few swims here and a diversion around a pressure ridge there. Patience is the essence; they know they cannot force the end. They have to stick to their routine and judgement and carry on doing what they know how to do. Their patience paid off half way through the day, as the weather brightened up, they finished with open flat ice.

They have been out on the ice for 2 and a half months, and their existence is their routine. Whilst they think of family and friends constantly, they are so far removed from 'normal' life they can't imagine the frenzy that awaits the England game and the excitement of the Queens Jubilee. Normal life will not resume until after The Pole has been reached, they cannot afford to let their minds meander too far from their goal.


May 29th 2002 - Day 78

THINGS ARE HOTTING UP

Position: Latitude 89° 31' N Longitude 76° 45'W
Distance travelled today: 10 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 383 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 29 N Miles

One of the jobs in a morning whilst the snow blocks are melting in the pan ready to make breakfast is to check the weather. + 2 °C, rather unnerving when you think what you are travelling on. The warm temperature makes the ice slushy to travel across. They come across leads that have ice in them and the edges of the leads remain firm. The combination of the warm temperatures, open water mean that cloud is the norm now, however, the sun did manage to show his face towards the end of the day. At the end of the day they have 29 miles left to the Pole. It is so tantalisingly close, but Caroline and Ann can't get too excited yet, they know they have to keep concentrating and keep focussed - there are no forgone conclusions up here


May 28th 2002 - Day 77

THEY'D NEVER BELIEVE IT….

Position: Latitude 89° 21' N Longitude 74° 10'W
Distance travelled today: 11 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 373 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 39 N Miles

Ann and Caroline thought they had seen all the different weather and ice that the Arctic could produce, and it has some repertoire. Luckily they did not experience any drift overnight, but today was a complete whiteout. Luckily they had glorious pans all day, with lots of old rubble fields, and not a lead in sight. Then in the middle of their day, it rained, not for long, but it rained, in the Arctic - they have seen it all now.


May 27th 2002 - Day 76

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

Position: Latitude 89° 10' N Longitude 73° 36'W
Distance travelled today: 11 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 362 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 50 N Miles

After the dejection of yesterday, the Arctic dealt a very different hand today. The temperature has dropped slightly and there is a northerly wind. Whether it is down to this or the fact they hit a better area, it is difficult to know. Whatever the reason, they hit large pans of good thick ice, with a good hard crust on the top, rather than the soft slushy stuff they have had to endure recently. This makes the pulks glide much better. When they did hit the thinner stuff, there was evidence of leads having refrozen. This was a fantastic sign to Caroline and Ann, and any fears they had yesterday of disappearing into 'Waterworld' completely evaporated.

Caroline and Ann normally take it in turn to lead if the going is relatively easy, but they also have specialist subjects, Caro is great at finding paths through the rubble, whilst Ann's speciality is thin ice. Once back inside the warmth of the tent at the end of the 'day' they guess the mileage, switch on the GPS and are relieved and elated with the 11 miles they clocked. The highs and lows. They hit the sack and hope that the new Northerly winds don't push them South whilst they sleep.
Only 50 miles to go………….


May 26th 2002 - Day 75

THE ELLUSIVE PARALLEL

Position: Latitude 88° 59' N Longitude 72° 52'W
Distance travelled today: 8 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 351 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 61 N Miles

They experienced some slight drift whilst they slept, but thankfully they went West rather than South. They woke with excitement with the hope that today they would push through 89°. Caroline also woke with the thought of mashed potatoes and cheese for breakfast, another new alteration to their daily menu. Caroline loves carbs, and especially potato, if that was all she had to eat for the rest of her life, she would be happy. In fact some friends think she might mutate into one. At least it makes a change from scrambled eggs or porridge.

As quickly as they can melt the snow to cook breakfast and get some hot drinks inside, they whistle down the camp and set off with one mission in mind.
The weather conditions were similar to yesterday, but the light was very flat. They hit some big pans during the first half of the day and progress was good, but as the day progressed it got worse and worse. Try and imagine the snow when it settles in England (not very often, we know), there is a brief moment when it is all pristine, then it melts and turns into a thick slush, that was what it was like. When it wasn't like this, there was open water, bigger leads they had to swim across, floating their pulks behind. Even when the sun came out, it didn't lift their spirits. It seemed as if all the ice was slowly melting and sinking around them and there was no end to it. They were determined to get through 89°, but after 15 hours they were exhausted and called it a day. A measly 8 miles for 15 hours hard graft. During trips like these the highs can be cancelled by the lows, and today was one of them.


Caroline and Ann.
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Typical ice lead.

© North Pole 2002 Ltd


May 25th 2002 - Day 74

MORE SKI, LESS SWIM

Position: Latitude 88° 51' N Longitude 72° 00'W
Distance travelled today: 9 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 343 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 69 N Miles

Today the wind has finally dropped, but unfortunately it remains warm. Caroline and Ann still had to cross lots of leads, but only 2 were so wide that they had to don the bright orange suits and lower themselves into the deep black water and swim across. Now the wind has dropped, the water is more still and seems less hostile. More of a pond than an Ocean. Another treat today, at their first break, they found a new addition to the usual supply of chocolate, assorted nuts and Polar biscuit - "a Licorice Allsort" Ann shrieked, but she swapped with Caroline who found to her dismay she had a coconut one. Pom had put these in as a daily treat.

They happily find lots of big open pans and push hard wanting to get through the all-magical 89th parallel. When they are driving hard they get very hot, so now it is warmer, jackets come off and they are left with just one layer that acts as a base layer. This allows the moisture to wick away more quickly from their bodies and stops them and the jackets getting wet. As for their sallopettes, these are designed with zips down the outside of the leg so they can open them as far as they want so they can 'vent'. The clothing system has been made by Montane, Chris Roff and his team have been absolutely fantastic in supporting the M&G Polar Team with individual specifications and requirements. A zip here, less padding there, they couldn't have asked for more. They had an opportunity for new clothing on resupply, but they knew what had worked and didn't want to change - they send a huge thanks.

Yet another surprise for dinner tonight - Macaroni Cheese, thanks Marcel and Peter.


May 23rd and 24th 2002 - Day 72 and 73

WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS

Position: Latitude 88° 42' N Longitude 72° 21'W
Distance travelled in the last 2 days: 17 N Miles
Distance travelled since the start: 334 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 78 N Miles


Thursday (Day 72)
They awoke to a strong easterly wind, -17 °C and cloud. The problem with setting off in a strong wind, is if the weather closes in further and you have to stop, can you get the tent back up. Though the first storm they encountered seems so long ago, the memories are still firmly etched in their heads. However, they have a new system, whereby the tent is laid out on the ice, Ann sits on it to stop it blowing away, whilst Caroline runs around securing it, before it is raised into position. As the wind drops during the day, the temperature climbs to -9 °C, and the snow gets very sticky, this makes the pulks harder to pull and slower going. After another gruelling 12 hours on the ice, the wind starts to build again, but this time from the North.

Friday (Day 73)
A strong Northerly wind means they have drifted half a mile further South from their position where they set up camp-but it could be worse. The temperature continues to stay warm so the snow remains sticky during the day. The dry suits go on to swim across smaller leads whilst they have to negotiate their way round the larger ones. Exhausted at the end of the day, they look forward to a surprise dinner. For the first 70 days their rehydrated meal was either chicken curry and rice, Hungarian beef and noodle pot, beef and potato casserole or cod and potato. Not much choice, but they are high in calories for the weight. Tonight though, it is Nasi Goreng. What an international menu so far North. As soon as they have finished eating Caroline and Ann hit the sack.

Back in Resolute
Gary and the gang had an uninterrupted night in the tent, and after a slap up breakfast and copious amounts of fresh coffee, set off to see the graves from the Franklin expedition. It is such a desolate place to think of being stranded here, the survivors dying one by one. It is impossible to comprehend what the early explorers had to endure, and the uncertainty they must have felt when they set off from England not knowing when they were going to return.

The contrast was poor, so visibility was limited as the team wound their way back carefully through the rough rubble that surrounds Beechey. Gary was majestic pulling the heavy Komatik through the difficult ice. Zoe was breaking the trail following the winding tracks around, and up and over hard blue ice. They hit some flat pans and had to jump over an open lead. Kent thought he was Evil Kenievel, his skidoo took off, he braked as he landed and slid to a halt within a foot of everyone else at the other side. Genius or lucky - who could say. We were near Cornwallis Island and decided to take a short cut through some particularly tricky ice. Zoe put her skidoo face down into an ice ditch, Pom had just come off hers and Gary had the komatik stuck over a hummock. We had 2 out of 5 skidoos working, and Tom sights a bear. What a time to be stranded…..Gary unhooks the Komatik, Tom pulls outs the skidoos and off we go to see the bear, from about 20 m away, absolutely awesome. Photos and video galore, what a treat.


The dry suit - as used by Caroline on Day 68
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

 


Zoe photographs a Polar Bear at Resolute Bay
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


May 22nd 2002 - Day 71

THE LAST RESUPPLY

Position: Latitude 88° 25'N Longitude 65° 35'W
Distance travelled since the start: 317 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 95 N Miles
Distance travelled Day 70 and 71: 10 N Miles
Temperature:

On Tuesday, (Day 70) the weather stayed clear and sunny all day.

The girls had been able to have a lazy morning, having said that they were up at 4 am to report the weather to First air. But also, they needed the rest having finished marching late last night and giving First Air hourly updates they were tired and anxious about any possible delay due to the weather over Eureka. However, the plane landed successfully and on their pan practically next door to the tent. Ross, the pilot, ably assisted by Mike even managed to take a couple of photographs of the girls. Food, fuel and some mail and Bridgedale socks (a luxurious neccessity) delivered together with a change of pulks (Sledges). The smaller sledges had been getting a bit of a hammering so they decided to change back to the original Acapulkas. After the plane left they managed to get a couple of miles under their belt.

Wednesday, the weather stayed good and clear with minimal pressure ridges and good skiing conditions. The number and size of leads is increasing now but with a bit of extra marching, usually to the west, they have been able to cross the leads. A day of self-congratulations is in order, they have crossed the line and there is less than 100 miles to go, psychologically this is a huge boost.

Back in Resolute the home team, under the direction of Gary Guy (as ever), piled onto their skidoos with Gary pulling the komatik. The komatik is a large wooden sledge with a box on the top. Inside the box the Inuit hunter will put the carcass of the beast he is hunting, skins, guns or whatever takes his fancy, Gary had our camping gear inside. Everyone had the most fantastic time racing across the sea ice and after about 4 hours, and just before we arrived at Beachy we came across bear tracks - large and fresh, they followed an amusing pattern as the bear had gone from seal hole to seal hole, it looked like some childs spiral drawing. We put up camp at Beachy in sight of Northumberland House, the supply depot built by the crew of North Star in 1854 who had been sent to find Franklin and his crew. Apparently they set up camp on the same site that the survivors of the Erebus and Terror that had becomed trapped in the ice also were forced to stay. It was a clear and beautiful night. The tent Gary put up was utter luxury, more like a marquee than a tent, there was heating, large foam mattresses and a delicious stew. It was magic.


May 19th and 20th 2002 - Days 68 and 69

WEATHER FOIL & CAROLINE TAKES A SWIM

Latitude: 88° 15'N Longitude 66° 15'W
Distance travelled during the previous two days: 12 miles
Distance travelled since the start: 307 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole: 105 N Miles
Temperature: -18°C


© North Pole 2002 Ltd

Sunday (Day 68) was the planned resupply day but as luck would have it the weather changed, a thick layer of low cloud covered the area the girls are in. There is also bad weather at Eureka so resupply has been postponed for twenty-four hours. The girls, who were looking forward to a lie-in, have been out on the trail again today.
Although feeling a bit tired their spirits were restored after Ann successfully passed over a large lead, about 60 m wide, on very thin bouncing ice. After her skis passed the water oozed through the ice. On reaching the far bank she shouted at Caroline to put on her orange dry suit, which is easier said than done. The legs are long and huge boot covering and large mittens mean putting on the skis is a feat in itself but amidst much hilarity Caroline successfully put on her skis and started to cross the lead, albeit in a different part than Ann. After only a short way the ice gave way and with a shriek Caroline plunged through the ice. The suit was magnificent, up she popped before her face was even splashed and due to the blobby ice she turned for the nearest 'bank' and scrambled back onto the safe ice. Now Ann was North of the bank and Caroline South. Ann, being Ann, volunteered to come back!! Eventually Caroline plucked up courage and got back into the water. Caroline would launch herself onto the thin ice, but still it was not possible to ski across or swim across easily. So the 'ice breaker' Caroline would break the ice with her belly flops, then make progress in the water, then belly flop. The suit kept Caroline warm and buoyant, so buoyant that instead of words of encouragement from Ann all she could hear were hysterical hoots of delighted laughter until eventually Ann threw her a throw line to help haul her to the other side of the lead.
They then carried on for the rest of the day feeling very reassured with the dry suits performance and hoping that they would get their resupply the next day.

Monday (Day 69), they have a full food and fuel ration for today but this could stretch to include tomorrow if need be. There is low visibility and low cloud and the resupply has been called off, so the girls got stuck into another day of crossing large clean pans, and crossing numerous leads. Their day finished in the middle of the evening and they called First Air to give the co-ordinates of the new pan for the pilots to land the twin otter on.

Back in Resolute Zoë and Pom have had to pack and repack all the resupply into small boxes. Due to weather conditions and the fear that the weather will close in again it has been decided that only the pilots will go up on the Resupply, letters hurriedly written and a loaf of bread baked by Tom were included. Fingers are crossed that the small weather window will remain open long enough for the seven hour flight to the girls tomorrow. The First Air pilots Carl and Kevin are leaving Resolute having finished their shift, being replaced by Ross and Mike (hope I have spelled them right) who will do the resupply.


May 17th and 18th 2002 - Days 66 and 67

KEEP ON KEEPING ON

Position: Latitude 88° 04'N Longitude 65° 40'W
Distance travelled Friday Day 66: 9 miles
Distance travelled Saturday Day 67: 10 miles
Distance travelled since the start: 295N Miles
Distance to the Pole: 117 N Miles

Friday (Day 66) was the first day they wore their Dry Suits, the girls rang Pom to tell her and discuss the in's and out's of the sledges they have on the ice at the moment. It was a white out all day. The concentration required in crossing the pans and deciding where to cross a lead is immense so they were extremely happy with the 9 miles they achieved. The dry suits are bright orange and cover their boots, hands and heads, and just the face is visible. The suits were made especially for the team and can be used not only as added security device if crossing a lead with thin ice but also to swim across a lead if required. The suits were designed by Borge Ousland, the legendary Norwegian Polar explorer. There is a continuing easterly drift but the NE wind has moved the ice pans where the girls are slightly South West overnight whilst they slept.

Saturday (Day 67) was a beautiful sunny day there were plenty of large open pans interspersed with numerous leads. It was the sort of day that reminds one why the Northern Arctic and the frozen sea are so beautiful and why people come back year after year. Nothing seems so threatening when there is sunshine. Tomorrow is the last resupply day, so they hunt for a suitable airstrip and look forward to a lie in. They are travelling a minimum of 11 hours on the ice each day. They have 3 days supply of food and 4 days of fuel on board.

RESOLUTE:
Friday, another day of polar plodding for Pom, which was helped enormously by Zoë lending her a walkman. She listened to Faithless for 11 hours; Zoë threatened that she would test her on the lyrics. Zoë had made some protective 'corn' type plasters from blue camping mat for Pom's toes, these helped the pain a lot but unfortunately did not stop the battering to the toes. In addition to this both boots were immersed in a tub of water to simulate the potential conditions on the ice-Zoe felt really bad making Pom do that. On returning to the Shack Zoë checked Pom's toes, unfortunately they had deteriorated very quickly and there is no way that she will be able to return to the ice for the completion of the expedition. Mentally this was a hard couple of days for Pom and she was extremely pleased that Zoë was with her. They had a huge plate of spag bol.and went to bed.
Saturday, they went to the airport to meet the new arrivals which included Tom, Ann's boyfriend who is here until the girls get off the ice, Kent, Pom's husband, here for a long weekend and the return of Gary. Gary handed over the 2 kilos of chocolate bars and 6 lbs of butter which Ann and Caroline will eating after the next resupply, in addition to the rest of the rations. The rest of the day was spent preparing the sledges, rations and kit for the girls, a never ending task of 'mud pies' adding nuts and chocolate but taking away fat or visa versa.

On Saturday Pom received an extremely well thought out gift from M & G, the teams sponsor, a bottle of vodka and tonic. The timing was excellent considering the result of yesterdays skiing test. Thank you from both her and Zoë.


May 16th 2002 - Day 65

OPEN WATER AND AN ARCTIC DIP

Latitude: 87° 44' N Longitude 66° 52' W
Distance travelled so far: 267 N miles
Distance to the Pole: 136 N miles
Distance travelled today: 10 N miles

Water, water everywhere………..Today saw masses of open leads, they came across 25 in the first hour. In the second hour, Ann was leading across some 'porridge' like ice that was not dissimilar to countless previous times, when she suddenly went through and took a dip in the Arctic Ocean. Quickly, Caroline hauled her out by her harness. They decided to carry on, and would only stop if Ann got too cold. It was a beautiful day which started out as -15°C and got progressively warmer. In between the leads the surface conditions were good and they made another 10 miles towards their goal.
Back in Resolute, Pom's toes have improved tremendously and she is back out on the ice and hills, pulling a laden pulk to see how her toes respond. She was out for 11 hours and said it was one of the most boring days of her life trying to pretend she was on the ice.
Everyone is hopeful she will be able to join Ann and Caroline at the next resupply and complete the expedition with them. But, not only will she have to make sure that her toes are up to the rigors of an expedition day but also and perhaps most importantly be secure that if she does join the other two that she doesn't hold them up in any way. Tomorrow she will have to do another day of similar length and deliberately wet her feet to see how the toes respond.


May 15th 2002 - Day 64

A DOZEN 'CLICKS'

Latitude: 87° 34' N Longitude 68° 11' W
Distance travelled so far: 257 N miles
Distance to the Pole: 146 N miles
Distance travelled today: 12 N miles

Another belter day, great travelling weather and the girls feeling great having got some good mileage under their belt. Caroline continues with her broken sledge, hoping that every obstacle they have to clamber over doesn't exacerbate the damage. The cloud is high today, and the sun rarely pops his head out.
Tom and Tina had a very tough day yesterday with Tom falling and hurting himself badly and Tina falling in the water - our hearts are with these guys.
Meanwhile, back at Resolute……..
Marcel and Peter have left, and Pom and Zoe are alone in the Shack. Poms toes are so much better and planning and preparation has started for the next resupply.


May 13th and 14th 2002 - DAY 62 & 63

IT'S A RUBBLING TIME

Day 62 Latitude 87° 22n Longitude 67° 68W
Distance travelled today 11 N miles
Today was charmed by huge flat pans of solid ice, the girls speed across the ice accomplishing a neat 11 miles.

Day 63 - Latitude: 87° 22 N miles Longitude 68° 02W
Distance travelled so far: 245 N miles
Distance to the Pole: 158 N miles
Distance travelled today: 7 N miles

Temperature dropping to -20C° causing leads to refreeze which is good news, the fear at this time of year is widening leads causing delays so the hope is that the change in temperature will give the girls an easier and safer path. There is a westerly wind causing an increase in the east drift to 0.3 knots, they need to increase the amount of westerly direction to compensate for this. From flat pans of yesterday to huge rubble fields today you can never be complacent in the Arctic, the minute you feel relaxed a new surprise will confront you. Today there was a huge pressure ridge of 50ft high. It took the girls a couple of hours to climb, haul, scream and yell their way over the huge lumps of aquamarine ice pulling their laden sledges behind them. The energy required to climb over these massive pressure ridges is immense, it is only with hugh patience that one can guide, lift, pull, push ones laden sledge to follow the 'easiest' route with the rope and sledge getting continuing caught and snagged on the ice again and again.


May 11th and 12th 2002 - Day 60 and 61

CRAZY JUMPING COMPASSES


Latitude: 87 04'N miles Longitude 69 45W
Distance travelled since the start - 236 n Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 176 N Miles
Day 60 Saturday Distance travelled - 7 N miles
Day 61 Sunday Distance travelled - 11 N miles

It's getting warmer but the weather remains changeable with cloudy conditions and snowfalls. The girls are anow stopping after 1hr 15mins for the first 5 hours to eat and drink and then every 1hr 5mins putting in ten hour days most days. They had good open pans over the weekend with some pressure ridges but on Sunday afternoon the pans had broken up into a number of leads They were able to jump over most of them. Both their compasses went abit beserk on Saturday leading them in a westerly direction rather than North, which was rather irritating. They are now using the GPS to eheck their compass bearing. Both in great form and good heart.

News from Resolute:
Zoe is administering to Peter de Bruijn from the Dutch Magnetic Expedition he is suffering from horrid chilblains on his inner thighs.
A cooling rub of Aloe Vera seems to be doing wonders for both of them. - Both thighs or both him and Zoe ? : Webmaster

In the afternoon they went to the airport to wave the doctors and one engineer from Ice Explorers.com back to England and check who was arriving. They really enjoyed sharing a house with James and his chums. On Sunday evening the pilots from First Air were invited to the shack for supper a highly entertaining night followed with wonderful stories being told by the legendary pilots, Carl and Doug.

May 10th 2002 - Day 59

Latitude: 86 46' 2 N Longitude 68 06'W
Miles travelled - 10 N miles
Distance travelled since the start - 218 N Miles
Distance to the Pole - 194 miles

The day started with SW wind and sunshine but ended with cloudy conditions. There has been quite a bit more snow filling the holes between the blocks of ice at the pressure ridges and making the rubble quick and easier to cross. No open leads and some good sized pans gave Ann and Caroline a really nice steady day. They are both feeling strong and confident.

Zoe and Pom met up with the Pilots at 2.00pm and left Eureka shortly afterwards on the return flight to Resolute they were given a fantastic surprise, Carl took them on 'safari' flying low and with the help of his extraordinary eyesight they say Musk Ox and their young, gathering round them in a circle to protect the babies from the onslaught of the monster enemy the twin otter, they bravely stood their ground until the plane had passed them by and then they scattered nervously across the ground. Then as they neared towards Resolute, the plane appeared (to Pom and Zoe) to be flying really very low, but they were rewarded by Polar Bears, the big female standing up on her haunches as she saw the plane as if to say 'Ok, I won't fight if you won't'. It was a fantastic trip for them both.
That night they had another wonderful dinner with Gary and Diane Guy, joined by the English guys from Ice Explorers.com they chatted and ate until 1.00am when they watched the arrival of the twin otter, flown by Doug, returning with the Peter Bruijn and Marcel Knotter from the Dutch Magnetic Expedition who had successfully walked to the Magnetic Pole – another late night.
The Shack was a wonderful caos with three expeditions and their kit all swopping stories and information.


May 9th 2002 - Day 58

2nd Resupply

Latitude 86 46'N Longitude 68' 06N
Miles travelled - 6 N miles

Beautiful weather greeted the girls when they woke but, when they looked at the airstrip they had chosen the night before in the white out they were worried about it's length, it was shorter than they had thought. However, having spoken to First Air base in Resolute they were assured if it was not suitable the pilot would find another strip, they relaxed and waited for the resupply.
The twin otter captained by the legendary pilot, Carl and his co-pilot, Nick landed at an adjacent pan at approx. 3.30pm and rather than make the girls walk too far, Carl 'drove' the plane over to the shared pressure ridge. Zoe and her assistant Pom climbed down from the plane and immediately started exchanging news and views as to whether they should take the security wet suits or not, they did after a few interjections from Carl. The resupply was finished quickly giving Zoe ample time to give both Ann and Caroline a quick check up. They are both in good shape, having nearly lost all the extra podge they had put on for the expedition. They were thrilled to see Pom up and about and admired the new Montane jacket she was wearing. After a few more hugs and laughter the girls returned to their tent to pack it away and did a good six miles which they were pleased with as the day ended in another whiteout.
That night they had one of Diane Guy's delicious home made stews and bread, they slept very soundly.

Zoe and Poms day had started at 8.30am in Resolute, climbing aboard the twin otter they flew to Ward Hunt Island to refuel and then onto meet the girls for their resupply.
Once the resupply had been completed the pilots had to find the First Air fuel cache
floating on a large pan of ice, the battery had run out and needed to be replaced urgently, otherwise the pilots might loose their fuel which had been previously set up for the rest of the season. Carl was pretty confident he could find it quickly as he had used it only two days previously when he had collect Paul Landry and Swee (the Singaporean) and Pauls beautiful Husky from the North Pole. The mission was accomplished but it took slightly longer than had been anticipated. They then had to fly back to Ward Hunt Island and collect various equipment and a sledge which Dave Mills had left behind in one of the huts. By now it was 8.30pm and the pilots had been flying for 12 hours so they headed for Eureka to spend the night.
The plane touched down at 11.00pm, by 11.30pm they were all at the military base and Boyce the chief of the base had got out of bed to see his old friend Carl and to meet up with Zoe and Pom again. In 1997 Zoe, Pom, Caroline and Lucy (the Echo team) of the Penguin Polar Relay had all been very thankful recipients of Boyce and the military's fantastic hospitality when they had been stuck with no money at Eureka whilst waiting for the weather to clear so that they could get on the ice and complete the Relay.
It was a great reunion.



Caroline and Ann
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Polar Bear !
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

 


First views of Caroline and Ann on the Ice
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


The resupply team
(Zoe is taking the photo)
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Caroline, Pom and Ann reunited
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

May 8th 2002 - Day 57

Latitude: 86° 30'N Longitude: 69° 14'W
Temperature: -16°C
Distance travelled previous day: 8 N miles
Distance to go to the Pole 210 N miles

There is the continuing easterly drift at the time of our Base Managers call our Longitude was 69° 14'W but at the end of the previous day's travel the Longitude had been 70° 54'W.
Travel yesterday had been difficult due to the whiteout conditions, a number of large pressure ridges towards the end of the day interspersed with open leads and soggy ice.
They came across an old wooden ski amongst the ice and kept a bit as a souvenir.
Camped on a good flat pan hoping that the weather would clear overnight for the resupply. However, they have enough fuel for 2 more days if the weather doesn't clear.
Due to the warmer weather they will send the tent floor back on the resupply plane and exchange their sleeping bags for clean ones minus.


Pom & Zoe had rather a big night cocktails with Gary & Diane and returned to a chicken stew and fantastic mashed potatoes with James, Jules, Matt and John Jo who were all extremely over excited after their skidooing trip round crystal city.


May 7th 2002 - Day 56

Latitude: 86° 22'N Longitude: 69° 58W
Distance travelled previous day: 10 N miles
Distance travelled since the start: 194 N miles
Distance to go the Pole 218 N miles


The weather still not good enough for the plane to land, so the resupply was postponed at midday for 24hrs. Ann & Caroline broke camp to get a few more miles under their belt But they also need to find a new landing strip.
Ann and Caroline are determined to have light sledges as possible and, due to the increasing warmer temperatures, have been able to shed some of their clothing and outer and inner fleece linings to their sleeping bags, these will be returned to Base at the resupply.


May 6th 2002 - Days 54 and 55

Latitude: 86 12'N 70 06'W
Temp: -26C
Distance travelled May 5: 7.2 N miles
Distance travelled May 6: 10.8 N miles
Distance to the Pole: 228 N miles

Sunday Day 54 - was cloudy and a whiteout all day it also snowed causing slow progress, coupled with lots of rubble the girls were glad when the day was over.

Monday Day 55 - conditions improved with better visibility and they came across a good newly frozen lead heading North that they skied up. They have one more day of skiing until the next resupply so fingers crossed for good weather and a less problematic resupply than the last one.

Back in Resolute Pom and Zoe finalised the resupply requirements for the team and were looking forward to the finals of the Dog Show on TV, gutted it appeared not to be screened so they made do with WWF wrestling instead.



Rubble from a distance on the ground, a wall
that you don't want to go near but have no option


From the air at about 9500 ft showing open water as big as the thames, the other shows
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

May 4th 2002 - Days 52 and 53

Position: 84° 54'N 70° 54'W
No drift over night
Temp: -24°C
Distance travelled during the last 2 days: 19 N miles
Distance to Pole: 246 miles

Friday (Day 52) saw perfect conditions and the team but in their best distance to date, 11 Nautical miles. There were large flat pans with only the occasional spot of rubble. But weather in the Arctic changes quickly and by Saturday (Day 53) it was a whiteout. Everything becomes much slower in these conditions with navigation becoming more difficult. After a long day they came to a huge high pressure ridge and then another and then another interspersed with open leads, an end to a tough day so they were pleased with the 8 N miles they had achieved. They are now putting in 10 and a half hours after breaking camp, and will be looking forward to the few hours of extra rest they will get on resupply day.

In Resolute Zoe & Pom watched the Canadian versions of Crufts on the TV wondering if the judges were only watching the dogs or including the owners who all seemed to achieve a commendable extended trot.


May 2nd 2002 - Day 51

Position: 84° 35'N 70° 53'W
No drift over night
Temp: -22°C
Distance travelled today: 9 miles
Distance to Pole: 265 miles

The team woke to a bright sunny day with hardly any wind. Perfect travelling weather and a balmy -22C°.
Ann has got her skiing legs back and they were able to keep their skis on all day as one large flat pan flowed into another. They have become adept at finding the low part of the wall in the pressure ridges so they can ski over and round the huge jagged blocks of ice.
Sometimes the ice is piled up neatly other times the ice is wretched in its tortured shapes piled high in a long curving line. Then suddenly there will be one vast piece of ice like a sculpture standing 20 ft high. The colours change too, usually aquamarine the ice can be grey, occasionally dark green and even a good match for a blue smartie, sometimes it's black with oil, a dreadful slight on the pristine cover of the sea. But the ice, this year is all covered by a thick icing of snow and the slice of cake sometimes has a 'cherry' on the top.
Navigation is by the sun and to plot their next course they look across to the horizon and pick out a particular shape 'Ok lets head for the slice of cake, west by that big knobbly bit and we'll stop for chocolate by the elephant'. The light and scenery constantly change; sometimes you can see the sun and the shadow of the moon as the clouds dance across the sky. Twice a jet has passed overhead an unnatural sound crashing into the environment. The silence is total until the ice moves and a pressure ridge is forming, it sounds as if the London underground is about to plough through Mornington Crescent.


May 1st 2002 - Day 50

Position. : Latitude 85 26'N 71 20'W
Distance traveled 10 N miles
Distance to go to the Pole 274 miles

Ann and Caroline are going great guns
A windy day with poor visibility. At the end of every 1hr 5 min session the girls came across an obstacle so instead of stopping at the end of the session eating and drinking and then attacking the obstacle they carried on climbing over the pressure ridge or skirting round a lead, it meant that each session was sometimes stretched to 1hr 45mins and they did the scheduled 9 sessions. At the end of the day they were totally exhausted but they had achieved 10 N miles - HOORAH they are going great guns.
Whenever they skirted round an obstacle on the ice they always went west as the drift is continually taking them east due to the Lomonosov ridge on the ocean floor, if they get caught in these eastern currents they will be unable to ski faster than the current and will miss the Pole so they must continually compensate by going West.
When they stopped the wind had risen and the tell tale dark wispy clouds indicating a possible storm were clearly visible. They just managed to get the tent up and collapsed into their lovely dry sleeping bags.
Caroline's eye which had been giving her trouble has now completely cleared up and both she and Ann, although tired, are in fighting form.
Back in Resolute Pom continues to visit the Clinic for her IV drip but the most important engagement that she and Zoë had today was to join the memorial service for Kono held at the edge of the sea ice at Resolute. Kono was the legendary Japanese explorer who tragically drowned last year 8 miles from Ward Hunt Island. His last one man expedition was from the North Pole to Ward Hunt Island but he contracted frostbite. After a one month respite at Eureka he went back on the ice, it was late in the season but he wanted to catch his dream, but tragically he died in the Arctic ocean.

Kono's wife and members of his family had flown for the anniversary of his death and had brought stones from his home town to be laid on the make shift altar they had erected in front of the memorial. The congregation laid chrysanthemums one by one on the altar. The service was held in Japanese and English. Stones would be taken back from Resolute to Kono's home. A song was played and Kono's family sang, it was extremely beautiful and very emotional. Whatever your reason for being up here, it was impossible not to be moved by the very kind words.

Pom in the mean time is being incredibly brave, he toes will heal up now they are no longer being hammered on the ice. She still has wet gangrene, but her toes are improving rather than deteriorating as they were on the ice.



Memorial for Japanese explorer Kono held at Resolute Bay.
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

April 30 2002 - Day 49

Position. :Latitude 85 16'N 71 20'W
Distance traveled on April 29th 6N miles
Distance traveled on April 30th 10N miles
Distance to go to the Pole 284 miles

Good clear conditions and sunshine, the ice conditions were good too and the team set off with purpose. They did 9 x 1hr 5 min sessions and achieved 10N miles - they are ecstatic, they now feel totally confident that they can keep to their schedule.
They read and re-read their letters from home, discussing every little nuance and telling and re-telling any scrap of news they received. They ate Hungarian Goulash for supper and discussed if they could get a two man tent at next resupply, its much warmer snuggling close to somebody rather than a saucepan when its -34°C.


News from Resolute
Pom and Zoe are back at The Shack in Resolute and make twice daily trips to the clinic where Pom is having intravenous antibiotics and her feet are dressed. X-rays were taken of her feet today to make sure the infection has not gone down to the bone, and the films were sent off to Iqaluit on the jet. The old pulks were unpacked, the sleeping bags were frozen and like boards, god only knows how you sleep in something like that. Discarded socks and facemasks were frozen onto the pulk and had to literally be prised off. Pom tells stories of their time on the ice, and it does sound utterly incredible what they have been through (especially given that Pom is more prone to the understatement).


April 29 2002 - Day 48 - The new two women team

Caro and Ann after waving goodbye to Zoë and Pom ate their first home cooked meal of pork stew made for them by Diane Guy in Resolute Bay - delicious was the verdict but difficult to eat pork fillets with a plastic spoon. The night was spent rolling around in a 3-man tent bumping into saucepans and cookers rather than Pom who they were missing a lot. They got to bed about 3.00am and had a late start; it was a whiteout, which makes travel difficult.
Before resupply the team had decided to try their previous tried and tested format of 1 hr 5 mins man hauling and then breaking to drink and eat, it meant that they should be able to achieve 1N mile per session and they felt confident that by following this route they would achieve their rule. But they were tired and had new sledges, the previous night had been emotionally draining for everyone, the 6 N miles was a disappointment.



Pom's frost bitten toes
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Pom back in Resolute Bay
having treatment for frost bite
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

Resupply, and drama at 85 degrees - Days 45, 46 and 47

April 28th 2002 - Day 47

Position. : Latitude : 85° 0' N.

As the team slept Zoë (back in Resolute) was reasonably coherent when Julian gave her 5.00am wake up call.

The team spoke to Greg at First Air at 7.00am reporting blue skies with a haze on the horizon, good visibility. Greg, had already checked the satellite pictures and the resupply was on. The flight went via Eureka for refueling and then up to a fuel cache on the ice. While Zoë was in the air the team remained in their sleeping bags, chatting and sleeping, the first time they had been able to genuinely rest for a long time. Mid morning they suddenly heard a mans voice 'Hello'…'Hello' instantly they realized it must be Tom and Tina Sjogren a Swedish couple on a unsupported expedition to the North Pole. Tom and Tina stayed outside the tent and they swapped stories of open leads, big rubble, moving ice and how they had coped with the terrible temperatures. The girls had been first on the ice this year and Tom and Tina told them how impressed they had been at their seemingly never ending tenacity of staying on the ice, particularly during the first week when it was -52°C and coping during the first storm by lying under the tent canvas as 80 mph winds meant they had no hope of getting up tent up. The team had stayed under this canvas for two days and is probably when Pom contracted frostbite. The girls were incredibly bucked up by Tom and Tina's words. On the other hand the team are hugely impressed with Tom and Tina who have already skied to the South Pole this year they all wished each other luck and hope to meet up at the Pole, Ann climbed out of the tent and gave them a big hug - how extraordinary to bump into other people, what a great diversion.

At 5.25pm they heard the sound of the twin otter, the girls with fluttering tummies from excitement rushed to get out of the tent to watch the twin otter land. As they exited the tent they noticed with change of light, and greater cloud cover, definition on the ground was bad. The plane tried twice to land and then the pilot went to a couple of other pans to look for a landing site, after a few minutes the plane flew back over the tent in a northerly direction and disappeared from site. Straining to hear any change of engine noise the girls heard the engine revving and believed it had landed. There was no direct communication with the pilot as the radio link did not work in that area so the team called Greg in Resolute to report the situation. As he hadn't heard from the pilots the team, quickly packed up their tent and went in the direction they thought the plane had gone. After one hour they rang Greg again and he gave them the coordinates of the twin otter. They had 3 N miles to travel as quickly as possible, speed is always of the essence in these situations as the pilots have a limited number of hours they should be flying. The terrain was quite tough with a number of small leads and pressure ridges. Caro skied but Ann and Pom had to walk as Ann's binding on one ski had broken and Pom's toes were so painful from the extra pressure of the ski binding that she preferred to walk even though it is extremely tiring continually sinking up to your knee or sometimes waist in the snow. Four hours later they arrived at the twin otter, jubilant to see Zoë again.
The pilot, Doug, an old friend and a fabulous pilot had previously flown the girls on to the ice in both the Arctic and to Hercules Inlet at the beginning of their successful M & G Isa Expedition to the South Pole. Doug had literally landed on a pocket handkerchief but the light had been right and he could see the lie of the land, the team was extremely grateful to him and his co-pilot, Nick.

The fevered rush of swapping old gear and getting new equipment and supplies began, sledges were changed, and frozen sleeping bags replaced with dry clean ones.

The team then climbed into the twin otter for Zoë to give their ailments a check.
Zoë was extremely impressed at how well the team looked, fit and strong but when she looked at Pom's big toes she was deeply concerned. Zoë said 'If they were my toes I would leave the ice' Pom had been worried for some time by the frostbite, the pain was excruciating and gangrene had set in, the smell wasn't too good either. She also knew the schedule the girls need to keep to get to the Pole and she certainly didn't want to jeopardize the success of the expedition.
It was a highly emotional time, there was no time for discussion, the team totally trusting Zoë's judgment accepted her prognosis, but the decision as to what to do was Poms. Zoë knew exactly how the team would be feeling she had been a member of their previous expeditions. Pom decided to leave the ice, desperately disappointed and crying the team hugged, Caroline and Ann walked away from the plane and Zoë and Pom waved through the plane window as they flew to Eureka.

The plane arrived at Eureka at about 3.30am and Zoë and Pom stayed the night at the weather station. Pom luxuriating in being warm for the first time in 7 weeks, bathed and washed her clothes. It had been so cold the team had not taken off their clothes for all that time - leaving the ice does have some compensation.

Footnote (bad pun)
Pom's toes were irrigated with iodine and dressed again at Eureka, Zoë was worried to think if there was anything that could have been done to keep Pom on the ice and whether it had been the right decision. The pressure during resupply was quite intense and decisions had to be instant. It was incredibly brave of Pom to come off, as they are all so focused on getting to the Pole it is easy to pass off anything that will prevent you. With a second look in the cold light of Eureka, Zoë had absolutely no qualms that it was the right decision.


From the cockpit on route to the girls
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Touch Down !
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Repacking
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


The Team after 47 days on the ice
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


April 27th 2002 - Day 46

Position: latitude: 84° 58'N 71° 40'W
Weather: Clear and sunny - 34°C
Distance traveled - 5N miles

Zoë arrived late in Resolute Bay with bags of nuts and chocolate, pain killers, athletes foot powder, sudacream for the chilblains the girls have on their thighs, toothbrushes and a myriad of other items for the resupply. Due to bad weather in Nanisivik ( a stop en route) the runway was closed, and there was a slight panic that Resolute may also be shut due to bad weather. However, the jet did land at Resolut and all was well, resourceful as ever she roped a young doctor, James, into helping her pack up the resupply boxes and still managed 3 hours sleep.
The team was hopeful that they would be able to find a suitable landing strip, not always easy with so many pressure ridges about. But they also hoped to be able to get a few miles under their belt as well. As luck would have it they came across a good-sized pan with very little sustrugi having completed 5 miles. They all had a fantastic day skiing only marred slightly for Caroline whose goggles continually froze obliterating her view and causing her to have a few tumbles.
The team called First Air giving their position. Supper of chicken curry, cheese and a mug of hot chocolate followed with the team looking forward to a lie in the following day.


April 26th 2002 - Day 45

Position: Latitude: 84° 52'N 71° 27'W
Distance traveled 6N miles
Weather: Started off cloudy and dull but ended up as a glorious day with full sunshine and no wind. -34°C

Final preparations are being made for Sunday's resupply.
Zoë Hudson, the teams Field Manager, arrived into Ottawa about 6.00pm and spent a few frantic hours shopping for the teams snack bags. They had decided that they wanted to increase their calorie intake and preferred to eat more chocolate and nuts than increase their oil or butter intake. Zoë found a fantastic shop 'Bulk Barn' where
She bought kilos of macadamias for a mere $C3-50 per kilo and brazil, almonds and cashews.
The team is getting apprehensive about the resupply now, worrying that if the weather changes the resupply could be delayed which could have disastrous consequences on the projected schedule for getting to the Pole. They also have only two spare days of food left, the clock is ticking. However they had a fantastic day on the ice, sun shining they really enjoyed them selves. The sea ice can be incredibly beautiful and today was one of those days when the team knew why they loved the Polar regions so much Poms back is better but her feet are giving her a lot of trouble, both Caroline and Ann are in good health
First Air has given the team instructions as to the type of terrain the pilots require for landing and they will be looking for a suitable airstrip on Saturday. They have to find an area at least 1000 ft long by 50 ft wide with the sustrugi no more than 4 inches high. Today they only saw one possible place for a plane to land. There is still plenty of rubble around and the pressure ridges, although much smaller and filled with snow, are still plentiful. Once the team has located a suitable strip they will be inform First Air at Resolute Bay with co-ordinates of the position, the weather, and surface conditions. This information will be repeated on Sunday, resupply day, as the weather pattern could change or they position could shift overnight due to drift.


April 25th 2002 - Day 44

Position - Latitude 84 46'N Longitude 71 43'W
Distance travelled during the previous day - 6 N miles
Distance travelled since the start - 100.2N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 314 N Miles

Weather conditions:- Very cloudy with poor light -33C
Ice conditions: Big pressure ridges with little or no snow cover, making them difficult to cross.
Considering the general ice and weather conditions they have made very good progress


April 24th 2002 - Day 43

Position - Latitute 84 40'N Longitude: 71 51'W
Distance travelled since the start - 94.2N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 320 N Miles

Weather Conditions: - Tues - sunny and windy (SW) -36C Weds - More wind and a bit of sun -36C
Ice conditions: - Tues - Very good with large areas of flat ice Weds - Same


April 22nd 2002 - Day 41

The skates are on !

Position. : Latitude : 84° 28' N. Longitude : 72° 19'W
Distance travelled since the start : 81N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole : 332 N Miles

The team have covered 12 Nm in the last 2 days, the best so far, and the team quite rightly, are feeling justifiably proud of themselves and were in very good form. The have encountered some enormous pans of ice, no drift, normal sastrugi and, more importantly NO OBSTACLES. Sunday was a gloriously sunny day with no wind and -36C. The following day saw a slight wind from the West and the temperature dropped a couple of degrees. Poms back continues to hold out well, and this is undoubtedly helped by the more favourable ice. With days like these, the team just want to keep going and going, they have got their skates on !


Attaching skis
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


April 20th 2002 - Day 39

Sledge Monster

Position. : Latitude : 84° 16' N. Longitude : 72° 53'W
Distance travelled since the start - 69N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole -344 N Miles

Friday was only -26°C despite the fact it was windy. The team spent the day with lots of leads and open water, and constant movement of the ice. They were accompanied by some very odd cloud formations, which had cleared by the end of the day. Saturday was sunny, but colder at -34°C. Most of the open water had frozen over again, but the surface was very difficult, rather than giving them a nice fast motorway, it was more like pulling a hundred weight. Some days the pulk feels much heavier than other days despite the difference in the ice conditions. That is when you are convinced the sledge monster has appeared during the 'night' and put more weight in your sledge. You pray that the sledge monster will stay away.
Poms back is improving, Saturday was a particularly tough day, and she came through with flying colours. The team have covered another 4 Nm in the last 2 days.


April 18th 2002 - Day 37

Strain but no stress

Position. : Latitude : 84° 12' N. Longitude : 72° 51'W
Temperature : -26C
Distance travelled since the start - 65N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole -348 N Miles

Wednesday morning finally saw the sun reappear, the contrast improved and the winds were subsiding. The storm had given Pom a chance to rest her back, which had become progressively more sore. With that in mind the team stayed put, and Pom is on medication to reduce the inflammation and trying some gentle pain relieving exercises in the tent. On Thursday the weather conditions got even better, the sun was out, there was no wind and the temperature was a balmy -26°C, so the team decided to press on. The ice was very dynamic today, constantly moving and groaning as pans were pushed together and driven apart. They found some large pans of ice, but they were covered in deep snow, and a huge pressure ridge which took 2 hours to get over. They made a steady 4 Nautical miles, but Poms back was not much better. They may give it another day of rest as the wind is increasing again.

Next comms 14.30 GMT Sunday 21 April


Pom Oliver
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Testing the tent at Resolute Bay prior to departure.
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


April 16th 2002 - Day 35

Arctic Storm.

Position. : Latitude : 84° 08' N. Longitude : 72° 56'W
Temperature : -36C
Distance travelled since the start - 60N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole -352 N Miles

Another huge storm hit the high Arctic on Sunday afternoon. The team could tell the conditions were deteriorating and they found a good place to pitch the tent and prepare for the worst. The subsequent storm has forced the team to stay put in the tent and batter down the hatches until it subsides. The tent is only supported by one ski in the centre and ski poles and guy ropes support the walls. The team pile extra snow and ice on the vallances around the base of the tent to seal and secure it. The tent is holding out very well in the high winds. Outside it is a complete white out, and the team rest up in their sleeping bags to conserve fuel. The storm has had a dramatic effect on the sea ice and weather pictures show a myriad of newly opened leads scattered everywhere. The team have also been blown a long way East. Despite this further hold up, the team show no signs of frustration and with the winds now subsiding, they are optimistic of getting off again tomorrow.


April 13th 2002 - Day 32

Goodbye to 83° - the desperately difficult degree.

CLICK HERE to hear Caroline Hamilton talking over the satellite phone from their position on the polar ice.

Position. : Latitude : 84° 04'.6" N. Longitude : 74° 50'W
Weather : Sunny, light wind,
Temperature : -42C
Distance travelled since the start - 57.2N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 355.4 N Miles

A cause for big celebrations, the team have finally broken through 84° latitude - a huge psychological boost. The 83° 's have had their exciting and difficult times, but they are finally through. The team were a tightly knit unit beforehand but the experiences they have been through together so far on this expedition have created a unique bond between the three of them.

The weather has been appreciably warmer and the conditions are generally more favourable. Over the last 2 days the team have managed to cover 9 miles - they are getting faster !. They have found a newly frozen lead which they have named the 'A1' and which made for much better going.

The first difficult phase is over - the team are out there for the duration, of that there is no doubt. Let us hope for a more favourable next degree.


It really is that cold -
the team's thermometer showing -37C
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

April 11th 2002 - Day 30

Drift during the night (Day 29-30) - a slight drift to the North of about 0.8N Mile
Position at end of Day 30 (Thursday evening) - Lat 83 54'.5" N Long 75 09'W
Distance travelled during the previous two days - 6.2 N miles (once again, they really feel as though they made good progress)
Distance travelled since the start - 48.2N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 365.5 N Miles

Despite it being a lovely sunny day today with no wind, the temperature was still a very cold - 44C. The colder it is the worse the snow conditions, both in terms of walking across and also for sliding the sledges across. To make matters worse the team had to cope with huge sastrugi, one of which are a real pain to get round, and deep snow, which they cannot ski across. In fact the skiis have not been back on again since last week!.
The equipment is holding up and the food and fuel stocks look OK to last until the resupply (with a safety margin in case of bad weather at that time). Despite the hardships of todays trudging, the team were really pleased with what they had achieved.

With the temperature increase on the previous day (Day 29) they managed to get the Solar Panel out and have started to recharge the first of the phone batteries; once these are recharged and we know that the panel can continue to charge them on a regular basis then we will be able to spend more time on the phone so please send in your questions for the team by emailing basemanager@northpolewomen.com and follow the questions and answers board on the contact us page.

The temperature is the critical issue - everything seems to come back to life once the temperature gets back above -35C (Cameras are making odd noises and shutters will not work); so we hope to be able to get some footage filmed and photos taken over the next two weeks so that they can be sent back on the resupply plane. Just so that everyone understands how cold it has been (and still is today!), Wednesday was the first day that they took off their Balaclavas and hats which they have worn 24hrs a day since they set foot on the ice. Apparently Pom looked as though she had had a VERY bad hair day! - We look forward to the photos !


April 8th & 9th 2002 - Day 27& 28

Current position 83 48 N 75 09 W
Nautical miles over the last 2 Days : 3
Total miles so far : 43

The team are now in a firmly established routine of hauling their pulks across leads and over obstacles. Caroline goes at the front whilst Ann and Pom push and lift from the rear. They are able to manage their own pulks now for most of the conditions, which continue to throw up a mixed bag. In the last 2 days they have had to zig zag between sastrugi that is 30 foot high in places. Small leads are now becoming a regular feature which the team have to jump across. A rather large East-West lead started to open up in front of them, and they headed West to try and get round it. In the process Carolines foot went in the water, and the wet boot froze like a block of cement. A dry sock sorted the foot out. As they traverse over bobbing chunks of ice, Poms style has been likened to tap dancing across lily pads, and dipping toes into the Arctic ocean is an unavoidable hazard. Despite the open water they are experiencing very little drift at the moment. They are now using less fuel as it gets warmer, as the water boils more quickly. When they were last storm bound they used the time to run an audit on food and fuel, and they will plan their resupply around the 28 April.


April 6th & 7th 2002 - Day 25 & 26

Current position 83 45 N 75 03 W
Nautical miles over the last 2 Days : 1
Total miles so far : 40

The storm has blown itself out and whilst it is -44 C, the sun is out and the wind is still. The effect the storm had on the ice was quite dramatic and it opened up many leads. As a consequence of this, the team have been able to find newly frozen ice which makes for easier progress. They felt they had made better progress than the mile they have to show for their efforts, so they may well be experiencing negative drift of the ice. As the sun creeps higher it is now starting to warm the interior of the tent when the team make camp, to a bearable -16C. Things are hotting up and the team are in very good spirits.


Caroline at Resolute Bay prior to departure
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


April 4th & 5th 2002 - Day 23 & 24

Current position 83 44 N 74 50 W
Nautical miles over the last 2 Days: 2 (This is all drift as the team have been snowbound)
Total miles so far : 39

Storm Bound
Another blizzard has hit, and the team have been forced to hole up in the tent for the last 48 hours. At least they are in the tent this time!. A fierce blizzard is blowing with a Northerly wind too strong to stand up in. The effect of the wind has caused some positive drift and they have gained an extra 2 miles. Whilst this is another frustrating time for the team, they will use it positively to get plenty of food on board and get some rest.


April 2nd & 3rd 2002 - Day 21 & 22

Current position 83 42 N 74 49 W
Nautical miles over the last 2 Days: 6
Total miles so far
: 37

Well you have to hold up your hands up to the girls and admit that they are consistent (or is that persistent?). They are completely focused and know they have to start bumping up the miles. That however, relies on finding good ice. Having found good ice at last, the cloud came down, and they are in a white out. Unable to discern not only the horizon, but each step in front of them, it is like stepping into a void. If it continues, it could force a rest day, as it is very slow going. The temperature remains a cool -46.

Tent Life
The team have a very striking tent, which would probably scare a whole host of anything scary, let alone a polar bear. It is a fantastic pink and green, very fitting for the girls and the colour should come into its element if the sun ever decides to show it's face. The colour is not just a fashion statement, when the temperature does get warmer it should absorb some heat. In addition to the colour, the tent was designed specifically to the teams request. And it is holding up well, as long as you don't have to put it up in 50 knot winds!


The teams tent
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


March 31st & April 1st 2002 - Day 19 & 20

Position at end of day 20 : 83 36’ N 74 48’ W
Nautical miles travelled over the last 2 days : 5
Total miles travelled since start: 31

Easter Breakthrough!
At last the team have had a break with the ice. Having spent the last 19 days hauling over pressure ridges or through deep snow, they have finally hit some good flat pans of ice. Up until now Ann, Caroline and Pom have had to haul each pulk in turn. Yesterday was the first day the conditions have been good enough to get their skis on and haul their pulks individually. Psychologically, this is a huge boost. It makes a big difference to wake up and see good solid flat pans of ice rather than the endless carnage of rubble and ridges, with no obvious way through. The team feel re-energised and are raring to get more miles under their belt. They have had the breakthrough with the ice they needed, now just 10C warmer would also be nice!

The team were very saddened to hear the news about the Queen Mother and they have passed a message of condolence to their patron HRH Prince Charles.

March 29th & 30th 2002 - Day 17 & 18

Position at end of day 83 31' N 74 45' W
Nautical miles travelled over the last 2 days 4
Total miles travelled since start 25.5

There is a bit of a continual theme with the 'ice' conditions at the moment. The team report continuous rubble and ridges with deep drifting soft snow inbetween which makes slow progress. To try and put it into context, the team have yet to put their skis on during the expedition. They are slightly frustrated that the mileage, though very consistent, is not starting to increase. The Artic ice has no schedule and requires patience and perseverance. Today was sunny, but cold (-50C) and windy, no time to appreciate the scenery, it was a head down, one foot in front of the other, grit and determination day. They are doing between 6 and 7 hours on the ice each day, and this will increase as they progress further North.

March 28th 2002 - Day 16

Position at end of day 83 27' N 74 34' W
Nautical miles travelled today 2
Total miles travelled since start 21.5

How many different types of snow can you get? The team continue to be plagued by deep snow, which is now also very sticky, but despite this make another 2 miles. The weather today is lovely, a bright blue sky, no wind and a positively balmy -39C. They need to do a few running repairs, but will wait until it gets a little warmer. Battery power needs to be conserved as much as possible until the sun gets a bit higher and they can start to use the solar panel. The sun is still lying quite low in the sky and it gets dark at night, but every day its gets lighter by about 20 minutes.

Tonight there was a full moon, the last they will see until the end of the trip, and in a matter of weeks it will be 24 hour daylight. Roll on.


Full moon
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


March 27th 2002 - Day 15

Position at end of day 83 25' N 74 29' W
Nautical miles travelled today 1.5
Total miles travelled since start 19.5

Ward Hunt Island is finally starting to dissapear from view. This is a huge boost and the team sound very positive. The improved ice conditions continued today, but it has been a very mixed bag, with the odd high pressure ridge still thrown in for good luck, one which took 90 minutes to get over. The flat pans are becoming more numerous, and whilst deep drifting snow slows progress, they have found some newly frozen leads where the going is much better. As an ode to the end of Ward Hunt and improved ice conditions, the team celebrate with a Pan forte. These have been specially made by Simon Hopkinson (of Bibendum). They are stacked with fruit and nuts, and offer a very pleasant diversion from the chocolate in the snack bags. At the end of another hard day, once the tent is up and the cookers are on, the GPS and batteries are warmed up. The team all have a guess at how far they have travelled that day and it is confirmed by the GPS.

There are often frequent debates in the polar community about the conditions on the Arctic pack ice and how they very from year to year. Now the team have been out for over 2 weeks, Ann thinks that compared to her experience in 1997, the ice conditions seem slightly easier, but it is much, much colder. Despite the fact that it is sunny, the current temperature is -52C, and she can't remember the temperatures being lower than -35C five years ago. Everything takes so much longer to do in these temperatures, and this can slow progress as much as poor ice.


March 26th 2002 - Day 14

Position at end of day 83 24' N 74 30' W
Nautical miles travelled today 2
Total miles travelled since start 18

The team sneaked in some extra 'z' time by oversleeping today. How can you oversleep at - 40? Out of the sleeping bags, bang the ice out of the tent, cookers on, and melt the ice to make porridge for breakfast. Just another polar day. Today is very similar to yesterday and the team ploughed though the deep drift and made another (very laudible) 2 Nm. This is very steady going, and the only thing that there is any complaint about is that Caroline's ample bosom is diminishing quickly. The complaint, it must be said, is only from Caroline of course. The team dream for the time when it will start to get warmer and they can dry out their clothes and sleeping bags. Hey ho, another day on the arctic pack ice.



Hauling sledges over pressure ridges - practise at Resolute Bay
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

March 25th 2002 - Day 13

Position at end of day 13: 83 22' N 74 30' W
Nautical miles travelled over the last 2 days 2.5
Total miles travelled since start: 16

The team have now settled into a steady rhythm and continue their progress North. Day 12 was yet another slog over the pressure ridges, where the three of them work as a team to relay one pulk at a time up and over the giant walls of rubble that interrupt pans of flat ice. Its like a game of chess trying to take the easiest route over wall, after wall, after wall.

Today they finally seem to have got through the worst of the pressure ridges that surround Ward Hunt island, however their is deep thick drift snow on the pans of ice inbetween them (thigh high in places) and their skis and pulks sink deep into the drift with each step. It's like wading through treacle, and seems little consolation for having fewer pressure ridges. To add insult to injury, it has got even colder with a south easterly wind dropping the temperature down to -50.


March 23rd 2002 - Day 11

Status - All OK
Position at end of previous day's travel - Lat 83 19' .4" N Long 74 30' W
Position at the time of the call - Lat 83 19' .4" N Long 74 30' W
Drift during the night - none
Previous day's weather - Lovely day - very sunny and felt warm (relatively) - temp -46C
Current weather - Clear blue sky - no wind - temp -45C
Ice conditions - Massive rubble fields with lots of blue ice all day. also deep snow.
Distance travelled during the day - 1 N miles
Distance travelled since the start - 13.5 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 400 N Miles

General - They are having to struggle through these massive rubble fields and are effectively doing three miles for every one mile progressed towards the Pole because it takes all three of them to move each sledge across the rubble. But spirits continue to be very high and moral sounds very good.


March 22nd 2002 - Day 10

Status - All OK
Position at end of previous day's travel - Lat 83 18' .6" N Long 74 30' W
Position at the time of the phone call - Lat 83 18' .6 N Long 74 29 W
Drift during the night - tiny bit to the East
Previous day's weather - No report
Current weather - Clear, weak sunshine, very good definition, no wind, -35C
Ice conditions - They had a big pressure ridge (30ft) to get over and then huge 'blue ice' rubble blocks to get through; the day ended with a good stretch of about 1 mile on an open pan of ice, with good surface to ski over.
Distance travelled during the day - 2 N miles
Distance travelled since the start - 12.5 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 401 N Miles

General - They all sounded in very good spirits again - I get the feeling that they are settling into their routine and are getting used to the trials of the ice. The pressure ridges and rubble fields are hard work and usually involve all three of them manhandling each sledge over each obstacle, but their natural team spirit is making this relatively easy (relatively!!!). Finally, they do appreciate all the messages of support - I tend to summarise them and read out the names - keep them coming.


March 21st 2002 - Day 9

Status - All OK
Position - Lat 83 17' .4"N Long 74 31' .8" W
Weather - -37C (this is 10C warmer than it has been for days), Low cloud, no wind & very flat light
Ice conditions - One very big rubble field at the end of the day and a very large 'Sastrugi-like' area to get over - rather like a very rough ploughed field
Total Distance travelled - 11 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole 402.6 N Miles

They were in excellent spirits today - with lots of laughing and good honest lavatorial humour and banter in the background. They did tell me that the reason for their rest day was quite simple - when they came through the storm they suffered a form of delayed shock and felt very light-headed and dizzy; they spent the day off re-hydrating themselves and re-stocking their bodies fuel reserves. I asked them for a frank account of the storm and they admitted that it had been 'pretty dramatic' - I asked them if they had ever considered pulling the emergency switch on the ARGOS Beacon and they replied with an emphatic NO - NEVER. There reasoning was simple that during the storm - nobody could have done anything anyway or landed a plane anywhere near them and after the storm - they rationalised what they had been through and all agreed that they had come through all in one piece because of several key factors:
1) they were properly trained and prepared for storms of this nature;
2) they are equipped to deal with these sorts of elements;
3) they knew before they set off that these were the sorts of things they would need to get through to achieve their objective;
4) throughout the storm they had all stayed 100% calm. Having managed them in the past and been privy to some other scary moments I know just how calm they are when the Polar Poo hits the proverbial fan - this calmness comes from within and underlines just how well prepared they all are.

Tent life - To give you all an idea of what their tent looks like in the morning, just imagine the inside of the Titanic with growth everywhere - this is what the hoar-frost looks like. They get into their sleeping bags with everything except their jackets on and when they wake up the clothes are sopping wet - within seconds of emerging from the sleeping bags this freezes and can then be knocked off. Their jackets are frozen solid and take ages to get into and then their arms stick out in odd angles/directions depending on how they were left overnight - and stay like that until they warm up. Going to the loo is a whole new experience at these temperatures (Pom managed to hang on for 50hrs during the storm! Conserving body fluids!)


March 20th 2002 - Day 8

Status - All OK and sounding very chirpy
Position - Lat 83 14' N Long 74 25' W
Weather - no report
Ice conditions - no report
Distance travelled - 8 N Miles
Distance to go to Pole - 405 N Miles

Caroline reported that after the storm they had decided to have a rest day, thus the reason for no progress yesterday. They now feel fully refreshed and recharged and are ready to take on the ice again.


March 19th 2002 - Day 7

Phone call to the team this morning:

Status - All OK
Position - Lat 83 15'N Long 74 25'W
Weather - Clear and sunny -46C
Total Distance travelled since start - 8 N Miles
Distance to go to Pole - 405N Miles
Ice conditions - they did not travel over the ice for the past 48hrs. However, the ice looks quite good.

They have just had a terrible storm, which lasted for 48hrs. Since the last voice report (Day 6), when they advised me that they had had to pack up camp very quickly because the ice was breaking up around them , they managed to move on for about 3 hours and then were hit by a blizzard which lasted for 48hrs. The wind was in excess of 50 knots and they were unable to put up the tent; they had to coral the sledges and wrapped themselves (with the tent liner) in a huddle in between the sledges. Because of having to pack up camp earlier in a hurry nothing was where it should have been and consequently they could not get at their food or melt any ice for water and had to last on some nuts and what was in one flask. They sounded very chirpy now that they have successfully come through this and are taking stock and reorganising themselves before moving on in about an hour.


March 18th 2002 - Day 6

Status - Code 2 - All OK but bad weather (the probable reason for no call)
Position - Lat 83 15' N Long 74 25'W
Weather - no report (other than Argos code) - a blizzard and high winds had been forecast for the region
Total Distance travelled since start - 8 N Miles
Distance to go to Pole - 405N Miles
Ice conditions - no report
General - no report

Well, so far, so good. Whilst progress may seem slow, the team would not be expected to be putting in great distances at the start. The pulks are heavy, the temperature bitter, and the pressure ridges and ice conditions around Ward Hunt Island are notoriously taxing. It takes time to adjust to living and travelling in this. Imagine waking up every morning to find everything covered in a layer of hoarfrost. Every surface has to be swept down; this means the inside of the tent as well as their sleeping bags. It’s a bit akin to being inside one of those snowstorm paperweights that has been vigorously shaken. Their clothes and sleeping bags will be wet or iced up, and with the temperature so cold, and the sun still so low in the sky to offer any heat worth talking about, it will be difficult to dry them out. They have rationed so much fuel a day, so cannot afford the luxury of keeping the stoves burning longer than necessary to try and dry any kit out either. Why, you may ask, would anyone want to do this?

The good thing to look forward to is that the pulks will get lighter, and the temperatures will get warmer as the sun gradually creeps higher into the sky each day. The team and their equipment are holding out well, and they are in extremely good spirits.


March 17th 2002 - Day 5

Status - OK
Position at the end of Day 5 - Lat 83 15' N Long 74 30' W
Weather - no report
Total Distance travelled since start - 8 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 405 N Miles

Ice conditions - they mentioned that they had had to break camp quickly this morning and pack the sledges as the ice was breaking up around them; very noisy but they sounded very calm about everything. Caroline's voice sounded quite chirpy, despite the upheavals around them during the night. I think it was also probably due to the fact that they seemed to have done about 2.5 miles yesterday.


March 16th 2002 - Day 4

Status OK
Position at the end of Day 4 - Lat 83 12' .426" N Long 74 25' .905" W
Weather - Very, very cold -47C, Cloudy with very flat light - the 72hrs forecast is for high winds and blizzards.
Total Distance travelled since start - 5.5 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 407.5 N Miles
Ice conditions - continues to be very large pressure ridges and they had to goround one very small open lead (thus the Westing)

It is extremely hard going but they sound OK and I have just focussed on keeping them motivated.

March 15th 2002 - Day 3

Position at the end of Day 3 - Lat 83° 11' .376" N Long 74° 23' .25" W
Status - All OK
Weather - -38C, Cloudy, No wind
Total Distance travelled since start - 4.5 N Miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 408.5 N Miles
Ice conditions - Horrid - huge pressure ridges ( one took them 2 hours to get over), very broken terrain

They sounded in good spirits, it is still very very cold and the going is very tough

March 14th 2002 - Day 2

Position at the end of Day 2 - Lat 83° 11' N Long 74° 24' W
Status - All OK
Weather - sunny intervals, no wind, temp -38 C
Total Distance travelled since start - 4 Nautical miles
Distance to go to the Pole - 409 Nautical Miles
Ice conditions - lots of rubble and ice blocks, also slushy snow.

Spirits are OK, it is very hard going, very hard work and very cold. Ann was on the first leg of the 1997 Polar Relay and says conditions are similar to then. This is nothing unexpected, these are the conditions for this time of year and they are just knuckling down to move forward.


March 13th 2002 - Day 1

Position at the end of Day 1 - Lat 83° 07' N Long 74° 24' W
Status - All OK
Weather - clear, no wind, temp -40 C
Distance travelled since drop off - 1 mile
Distance to go to the Pole - 413 Nautical Miles
Ice conditions - they were still on Ward Hunt Island at the edge of the ice and it looked both solid and relatively free of leads (open water areas) and pressure ridges (where the ice compacts against itself and forces itself up into piles of jumbled ice blocks that have to be climbed, crossed or got around).

N.B. The satellite beacon is switched on when they make camp every evening and transmits position and status reports throughout the night until they break camp in the morning. This beacon simply gives a position and status code. All other information will come after each phone call from them to the base manager via the satellite phone.


March 12th 2002 - Day 0

Tonights Position - Lat 83 06' 1" N Long 74 19' 50" W
Status: All OK
Temp: - 28C (The temperature sensor is not working - it is really -40C)
Distance to go to the Pole: 414 Nautical Miles

Peace at last……..though it is sad for the team to see the plane leave, they can now get on with the job in hand, and it is just fantastic for them to finally be out there. This was the first plane out this season, so they know they are left all alone out there on the ice. They had landed on the ice shelf that surrounds Ward Hunt, and skied only a short distance to clear their heads and legs, as there were only a couple hours of daylight left. They set up camp for the first night of many. The first week or so of any expedition is critical, as you have to establish a routine, and given that they all lead very different lives of chaos, they will be concentrating very hard to try and get everything right as quickly and efficiently as possible (more of the routine later).

Once inside the tent that will be their home for the next sixty or so days, the cookers go on and the process of melting snow begins. They have pots that are specially made in Norway that conserve as much fuel as possible. These are a new departure and are the same ones that Borge Ousland uses. Borge is a polar god, and the last time he was over in England the team met up with him to discuss polar tactics. One of the many results of the discussions with him was the new pots, which although had been tested in warmer climes, melt the snow much quicker than anticipated. Had the first spillage-par for the course when you have pans of boiling water balanced on small stoves on uneven ice in the middle of the tent! This happened once in Antarctica on one of the first days when Pom upended a pan and the water burnt Anns foot, but it never happened again.

 


The Team at Ward Hunt Island
- ready to head North.
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

Click here to see a larger image

Set Down at Ward Hunt - The Expedition begins

We said we had good vibes about today, just before 6 am Mike called to say the reports weren’t great but they would give it a shot. All systems go….boil water for the Nalgene bottles (good start on having to melt ice), call Julian, and Caroline cooked scrambled eggs (a result). It was ironic that of all days, this was the worst weather we had encountered in Resolute, blowing a blizzard and poor visibility. Drove straight onto the runway where our trusty friend the Twin Otter was waiting and Gary and Diane (as ever) to say goodbye, no chance for long ones, the weather was so foul, Zoë who was filming started getting frost nip on her nose after 10 minutes. Then we were off, not long after clearing Resolute, the weather cleared and the white vastness below us was compelling. 3 Hours later we land at Eureka to refuel and then it is another 2 hrs to Ward Hunt (strong head wind). Ann is reading the ‘The Shipping News’, is she desperately trying to finish it, or focusing here thoughts? Pom sleeps intermittently between having more thoughts about how to raise more money for The Square Smile, the expedition charity. Caroline meanwhile looks longingly out of the window at the vast white expanse below. Looking out of the plane for miles and miles you could imagine how the ice age looked. Just taking the flight is a privilege, the scenery is breathtaking. If geography lessons had been like this, it would have been far more interesting, you can see frozen water, distinct shore lines, glacial fields, all white with the odd bit of granite poking out defiantly, peaks that will never be bagged.

Foot Note from Zoë
After more than 18 months preparation, we left them skiing over the ice shelf, and a huge emptiness suddenly overwhelmed me. On previous expeditions I had been with them, not leaving them, and as the plane past them for the last time leaving them in this vast Arctic wilderness, I could see them waving until they became small specs on the horizon until they disappeared out of sight altogether. Suddenly it all became too much and I burst in to tears; Simon gave me a big hug. It suddenly dawned on me that it is much harder for the ones who are left behind-for the first time I wish I was out there with them.

 


The Team ready for departure
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

March 11th 2002 - Monday

Still here! Got the phone call at 6 am and the weather is still too poor to fly-as we half expected. We are feeling very happy and relaxed now, as we have had time to fine tune things, and after another weigh in to recheck the pulks, some final discussions about the relative merits of some of the kit, we are ready and prepared to go. We have not compromised anything on the safety aspect, that is something we could never invisage. Pom and Ann go off to the Co-Op whilst Caro goes out skidooing with Simon, after the fairly tense build up we need to chill before setting off. Zoe goes off to visit Wayne (a weather scientist) in the monitoring station to look at satellite pictures of the Arctic ocean past and present. Wayne is into the sun and moon, big time, and after watching the sun set with him, she will never look at the sun in quite the same light again. There was a square sun tonight and, she witnessed it with red and green flashes (Sounds like Zoe has the first signs of polar madness - at least it will make her PhD thesis more interesting - Web Doctor).

We know you have probably been logging on waiting for us to go, but now it looks good, and Mike at First Air is as optimistic as you can be in these regions, that we will be off first thing in the morning.

We are ready and waiting and raring to go…………


Zoe Hudson - base manager
© North Pole 2002 Ltd

March 10th 2002 - Sunday

Sorry about the brief updates over the last couple of days, but the late arrival of our freight had put us into a flurry of activity in order to be ready for our departure this morning. We were actually up to 3.30am this morning finalising the equipment and weights. Everyone had a fitful sleep waiting for the pilots to call. Would we, or wouldn't we be going? We had done spectacularly well to be ready in time; we didn't want to delay our departure. The phone went at 6 am………..it would be no go due to the weather for at least a day and a half. These are always tricky times as you have psyched yourself up to go but you also know that the more preparation time the better, Pom likens the packing and weighing game to mud pies, you can just go on for ever. We all go back to bed and catch up on some well earned sleep.

Polar weather doesn't follow any timetable, and the one thing travel in the Polar Regions teaches you is patience. We have been here before, on the Relay we got stuck at the North Pole for nearly a week and we were stuck for 3 weeks in Punta Arenas waiting to get out to Antarctica, all due to the weather. We will fly from Resolute to Eureka to refuel (2.5 hours) and then a further 2 hours flying onto Ward Hunt. The weather at both places ideally needs to be good in order for the pilots to be able to make it there and back in a day. The satellite pictures show both locations obscured by a determined patch of cloud.

After the ordeal last night we sank into the same process of building up all over again. Two residents of Resolute phoned up and asked if they could pop in (Resolute is like that), they arrived on skis, with two dogs and brought freshly homemade brownies, a very pleasant diversion. Afterwards we took the pulks back up to First Air to re weigh them after our game of mud pies. It was quite a successful game; we had managed to make some substantial savings on the weight. With that we went back to the sea ice and had a great training session. We are not sure what the temperature is today as we had packed our trusty thermometer in preparation for the flight, but yesterday it had fallen to -45° C. An early night tonight and we will wait for another early call from the pilots, there doesn't seem to have been a break in the weather yet, so don't hold your breath!


March 9th 2002 - Saturday

Last minute packing.
The Team hope to fly at 7 am tomorrow (Sunday) morning (Resolute time-6 hours behind UK time).
However, the satellite pictures indicate bad weather at Eureka and Ward Hunt Island; The pilots will look at the situation again at 6 am, its now 1am, we are going to bed.


March 8th 2002 - Friday

- 40° C (again) today

A night in the tent in Resolute is good training but very unrealistic because you know you can pop inside for a cup of coffee, not possible when we have been dropped at Ward Hunt Island. However, we did sleep out all night, a bit of a grim reminder of what we will face for the 60 to 70 days on the ice. You need to pull the Anjunjulak sleeping bags in and around your face as tight as possible, leaving a gap just small enough to breath. Breathing into the bag is bad news as the condensation will turn the bag into balls of ice. It was good to get into The Shack for steaming mugs of coffee, bacon, eggs and pancakes. The rest of the day was spent out around the Shack and out on the sea ice at Resolute, it was fantastic to be outdoors and back on the sea ice. You remember how beautiful it is, and the reality shows that your mind hasn't played tricks with you. Back in The Shack we continue to pack and modify the equipment, then Gary and Diane come round for dinner and we reminisce about the time they came over to England to visit us. We are due to set off very early on Sunday so tomorrow is the last day we have to check, double and triple check all the equipment. The countdown has started in earnest, 2 days to go…….


March 7th 2002 - Thursday

- 40° C today

Not much time for news it has been all hands to the deck today. Food bags sorted week by week, all carefully prepared so the exact calorific value for each person per day is easy to locate when we are on the ice. The calorific intake will increase as the expedition progresses. Pom and Ann have the tiresome task of pouring all the oil we will consume into special bags. They were put in the freezer overnight but still didn't solidify, so they have been put outside The Shack, -40 ° C should sort them. This was the first opportunity we have had to get the tent up and try the skis out, and all went extremely well. Caroline is only wearing part of her clothing system and doesn't even seem to feel the cold. We are still putting the finishing touches to the pulks and we will sleep outside tonight as part of our preparations. It seems slightly perverse when we have the warmth and comfort of The Shack. So think of us tonight when you are wrapped up in your warm toasty bed, we will probably wake up shrouded in ice-we will keep you posted !


March 6th 2002 - Wednesday

- 38° C today

Today has definitely been one of highs and lows. The first piece of good news was that the storm had blown itself out overnight, and we woke to a beautiful clear morning-perfect for planes to land. We were also encouraged by a phone call from Tony Tennant who called us to say that our freight had finally been cleared by customs in Iqaluit and would be on the plane in today, however he did say there had been some damage in transit, but couldn’t elaborate. The team set off to the village to stock up on resupplies, and by the time they reached the Co-op the news seemed to be all round Resolute that there was substantial damage to our cargo. Our sledges (pulks) specially built in Norway, skis, poles, most of the food (that had been carefully weighed out and bagged in the UK), sleeping bags and other essential items of equipment were all in that cargo, it didn’t bear thinking about.

We had heard the plane come in and at 3pm we drove up to the airport with Gary. Everyone was very quiet, not sure what to expect. We trooped into the hangar at First Air and Mike (the manager) was immediately apologetic, even though it was not necessarily their fault. 600 kilos of our cargo had been packed in 25 boxes at Heathrow, since then it had travelled to Toronto, Ottawa, Iqualuit and finally Resolute, at each point it must have been unpacked and repacked at various customs points. We were now faced with 3 big crates that the pulks had been packed in and one huge packing case on a broken palette perched precariously on top of one of the pulks. A smaller sad box stood all alone dripping with oil. We had the crates for the pulks specially made to protect the precious cargo, and as we surveyed the scene in front of us we could see that one end had been completely ripped off exposing the front of the pulk with packets of dehydrated food spilling out of the front. One of the other crates had also imploded from the top. It was impossible to assess the damage without going through it, so we decided to take it all back to The Shack. As usual in Resolute, people appear out of the woodwork to help out. Rick suddenly appeared with a front loader, which picked all the gear up and he carefully reversed all the way back to the Shack, hotly pursued by Gary and friends. We quickly broke down all the crates and got everything indoors. To our huge relief, when we had done an inventory of all the kit carefully checked by Zoe, the base manager, all we had lost was some nuts and chocolate, 1 bottle of oil, 1 bag of dehydrated cod dinner, and more importantly none of the kit was damaged.

We then worked diligently for the next 5 hours, it was like a military procedure, everyone knew what they had to do. The pulks had to be branded, a horrible job, you try negotiating an 8 foot pulk with its cover around a sewing machine-but Simon was a star as ever, food bags to sort out week by week, bindings to fit and adjust on skis, sleeping systems to put together (more of that another day) so we can finally get out and test our kit tomorrow. Previous polar experience does count for a lot, and everyone is very calm and methodical in the preparations. Now we are safely reunited with all our kit, it is full steam ahead.


The team are supporting the charity 'Square Smile' © North Pole 2002 Ltd


"The shack" © North Pole 2002 Ltd

 


March 5th 2002 - Tuesday

- 35° C today ('Yuck' - webmaster)

Resolute Bay is one of the most northerly inhabited communities in the world. Located at the tip of Cornwallis Island in Nunavut (formerly the North West Territories) in Canada, Resolute lies 600 km North of the Arctic Circle, and approximately 2000 km from the Geographic North Pole. It is an extraordinary community, with a population of 200 inuit and non-inuit inhabitants. It experiences 24hr daylight during the summer months and 24hr darkness in the winter. It has the most wonderful shop, the co-op, which is a true working co-operative. It is one of those stores where you can buy just about anything, from spare parts for your skidoo to fresh oranges or a pair of new jeans. There is also a church, school, day care centre for working mothers and amazingly 3 hotels. Two flights come in a week with First Air, and smaller planes ferry workers to and from the outlying mines. The people here are fantastically friendly, and as there are few other new people 'in town' we have become a fresh source of curiosity for the locals.

We have finally finished sewing the M&G badges on the clothing. Simon is a whiz on the sewing machine and what he could not machine had to be sewn by hand. We decided to take some more pictures today just as a storm brewed and the wind whipped up - good training. Up until now we have had fairly clear, bright skies, but today the contrast was quite flat and it was a near white out. Hanging around in these conditions is never pleasant but the Montane clothing system we will wear on the ice proved a huge success as the icy wind bit into our faces. Even Pom's hands did not get cold in the glove system.

After a good lunch we set off into town to stock up on supplies at the co-op. Gary has lent us his old pick up that didn't seem very happy, and as we stopped to get a good picture of The Shack it conked out and wouldn't re-start. As luck would have it, a truck passed right by and gave us a tow back to Gary's. We are not having much luck with the pick up, yesterday Caroline and Simon managed to get it stuck off the road. Pierre (one of the 2 Royal Canadian Mounted Policemen) came to their rescue, but also got stuck! And both were eventually towed out by Ossie.

Ann made her customary call to the triplets (or the tripods as we call them) and we went off to see some Arctic foxes outside Gary and Diane's house at twilight. We arrived to see Gary standing outside on the verandah in just his socks and jeans (they are tough up here), throwing bread to the foxes. We have run low on supplies as we couldn't get to the co-op, but Ann managed to rumble up some spaghetti, tomato sauce and something that claimed to be reconstituted meat (not finished by all). Gary and some of his mates dropped the pick-up back, the fan belt had gone, so it was nothing to do with Simon's driving after all!

A storm has really set in now, and we can hear the wind howling round The Shack. The guests that were due to pop round phoned to cancel as the weather is too bad to drive. Let's hope it blows itself out by the morning, as Gary as no plane can land in this, and we are expecting the rest of our cargo in tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.


Sewing sponsorship badges onto the kit
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


March 2nd 2002 - Saturday


After a rousing send off from Heathrow from an assorted gathering of family and friends we set off to Ottawa along with our customary 12 big boxes of equipment that couldn't be sent out in advance. The six weeks prior to our departure had seen a frantic time of packing all the food and the bulk of the expedition equipment, and all 600 kilos had already been flown out to meet us at base camp. What bliss to sit on the plane and relax. Travelling with Ann, Caroline and Pom were Simon and Zoë. Zoë had been to the North Pole in 1997, and South Pole in 2000 with the same team and will act as base manager at Resolute. Simon is Caroline's brother and will also help during the final preparations. After a Friday night stop over in Ottawa and a little last minute shopping and the last restaurant meal for a long time, it was an early start the following and back to the airport for the final leg of the journey to base camp. The flight North to Resolute Bay took about five hours with a stop over at Iqaluit, the ground below grew whiter and whiter and eventually any sign of vegetation disappeared. As we flew across to Cornwallis Island we could see a lot of open water and couldn't help but hope that the conditions up on the Arctic sea ice would be more favourable!

We had been here once before. In 1997 Caroline had put together the first all women's expedition to reach the North Pole. A relay that involved five teams of four women with two guides, Ann had been on the first leg and Pom and Caroline on the last. As Resolute Bay appeared out of the vast white horizon, none of us dreamed we would ever be back. Touch down, and as we descended from the plane we were greeted by the familiar Northern welcome…..- 41°C. In the small hangar that is Resolute airport, was a much warmer greeting from our old friends Gary and Diane Guy who had looked after us all so well in 1997. We packed all our boxes into the back of Gary's old pick up and drove the short distance to Gary's Shack which will be our home and base for the final preparations. The Shack is a converted radio and telecommunications centre, and a huge dish sits outside in memory of its former life. It sits alone, half way between the airport and the village of Resolute and Gary has lovingly converted it into a perfect place for our base. Having settled in, we drive back to the airport to pick up our 600 kilos of advanced cargo from customs. Our cargo is not there, and after a few phone calls it turns out it is still stuck in Ottawa. Osama Bin Laden, foot and mouth and new regulations have all conspired so that customs are not happy with some of the foodstuffs, lip salve and vitamin C tablets. The next flight is not due in for 4 days, which means we may have to delay our departure date. However, we still have plenty to be getting on with whilst we wait for the rest of our equipment to arrive. That is for tomorrow, we head off for dinner at Gary and Diane's where we are served a sumptuous meal of beef and Musk ox - the North is no place for vegetarians!

We all wake early the following day and Simon cooks scrambled eggs - turns out he can cook a bit too! Lists are made of things to do - unpack all our kit, M&G sponsors badges to sew onto clothing, finalise the medical kit and Argos codes, make the tent floor…………. We set up a small office in the Shack and hook up the laptop and printer, along with the phone we can now communicate with the outside world. The next few days will be spent weighing and refining the equipment we have and praying the rest of it arrives on the flight on Wednesday.

 


Polar ice from the aeroplane
© North Pole 2002 Ltd


Resolute Bay airport ! © North Pole 2002 Ltd

 


March 1st 2002 - Friday

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North Pole Expedition Team fly from London to the Resolute Bay, Canada, ready for intended departure on March 10th 2002.


Stop over at Ottawa Airport on route to Resolute Bay © North Pole 2002 Ltd


February 25th 2002

Position : LONDON
Miles Travelled : 0
Final preparations and last minute checks in London before flying. Zoe Hudson (equipment anager) checks all equipment. First supplies including food rations flown out.


Soaking feet in alcohol to toughen them

©North Pole 2002 Ltd


Caroline in training © North Pole 2002 Ltd

 


Pom packing food ©North Pole 2002 Ltd

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