Eric Philips looking a bit epic after the strain of days of relentless hauling through a blank white canvas begin to show
Today was a real mood buster. Again a day with the same. Dim, gloomy and zero visibility. We also got into areas of pressure ridges again, ice blocks now covered with snow for the extra challenge. Between the ice blocks is slushy half frozen water of a brilliant blue colour and easily mistaken for sturdy ice until you step on it. Since the 84th latitude the pressure ridges have increased in size and in frequency. The flat pans are getting smaller and that is where you usually can speed up to get some distance. But not today. The predominant Southwest winds have formed frozen sand dunes perpendicular to our ski direction which means you have to negotiate many bumps in flat light. Good news about today is we didn’t have to swim or raft a lead in this nasty weather that doesn’t know when to stop. We all feel frustrated. We make no progress, the mixture of pressure ridges and the many leads in flat light makes not only challenging but dangerous. The Arctic is a grim place when it is like this and offer no solace for the mind or soul. It loses all its attractiveness and turns hostile if you let it get to you. No wonder early explorers suffered from bouts of depression when they had to deal with conditions like these. I wonder if a doses of prozac will make it better out here if you need to get rid of the polar blues for a day.
Then in the midst of a pressure ridge you find an amazing piece of multiyear ice, with different bands of colour, algae and icicles. This piece is at least a few years old and hopefully will survive this summer melt. The block of ice reminds me of a humpback whale when it emerges from the water, and you see the baleen hanging of it. That was all I needed today, a reminder how precious The Arctic really is.
Ditto, all of the above, etcetera, Groundhog Day….. Ho hum, today was just like the previous week – blizzarding, poor visibility, pressure ice, soft leads. Ho hum! 6km today. Ho hum!
With this run of bad luck since resupply I am beginning to ponder the future of this expedition.
Pic negotiating a lead full of barely-frozen rubble. These are often treacherous as each weighted block is a time bomb waiting to dislodge and disappear into the drink, followed by a boot and perhaps the hapless soul attached to it.
The blizzard has been unrelenting. It blew all night but the morning was full of promise with a hopeful sun peeking through the cloud. But an hour after kick-off a black ball swept across from the SW and before long we were in a snow dome. All visibility had gone, again. I am so accustomed to skiing blind that any kind of resolution on the horizon seems like such a luxury. Wind forecast to continue tomorrow but easing Sunday. Hallelujah!
A good surface mostly and we claimed 10km from the ocean, but camped next to a lead that we were too exhausted to find a way across.
Pic of my sled – Josephine – with Bernice and Martin approaching.
Spent whole day falling over things! Zero contrast & strong winds in the face all day!
The feverish temperature rise in the Arctic has puzzled scientists: The most up-to-date climate models, such as those in the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fail to reproduce the rapid warming seen in the Arctic.
Researchers see a link between tropical sea-surface temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation, a climate pattern that dominates Arctic weather. Since the 1990s, warm sea-surface temperatures in the western Pacific and cool waters in the eastern Pacific have pushed the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) into a pattern that allows high pressure above Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. (High atmospheric pressure leads to warmer temperatures.) The NAO was in a negative fase in march and april hence the violent storm and cold weather we were experiencing in April and we are now again since the last 12 days in another cycle of west winds (drifting again to the east) and lots of snowfall. With predominant high pressure systems in the Arctic, storms usually come and go but we notice that they linger and come with lots of wind and moisture.
Definitely a better day although we skied in zero visibility all day. Not sure if you get used to it or we have forgotten what sunshine was all about. Goggles, face masks, hats, and many layers in the frigid blasting winds today, a classic north pole day. Hit the 200 km mark – if we are not drifting back tonight (4 km to the east last night).