What's this all about?

A new adventure beckons, and this is once again about my personal journey to make it happen.

It might make you laugh; it might make you cry, but by 'eck lads and lasses, it will be worth a quick skeg every now and then, tha's for sure.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

An update from Longyearbyen

Day 2 at the centre in Svalbard after a journey that started at noon on Tuesday, with a train trip from Leeds to Heathrow (via the cattle truck known as the London Underground link to Heathrow Terminal 3).

So, so far it's been a flight from Heathrow to Oslo, overnight in Oslo and then a flight to Longyearbyen, which stopped at Tromso. Looking ahead we have a 2-hour flight on Sunday to base camp at Barneo (which is actually floating steadily closer to the Pole) and, after a few hours there being briefed and loading the pulks with fuel, a helicopter ride AWAY from the Pole to reach the 89th degree.

The good stuff so far is: - 

(a) David has found not only fish paste in the hostel eating area, but also some he can buy in the local Co-op to take home.

(b) No sign of any polar bears although we are currently only 1/2 mile away from the no-go zone. A reindeer we saw curled up this morning, just yards from our accommodation, did fleetingly look like something more menacing given the size and colour of its head and the total lack of antlers.

(c) The hostel has great showers and the accommodation is good, GREAT night's sleep last night!

(d) Some great photos taken already although not able to download them onto  a PC so just posted them on Twitter for the time being (@northpoletrek)

(e) Despite some reluctance from Geoff Somers, the trek lead, it does appear that we'll be going 2 per tent, not 3 per tent, which pleases most and thrills a couple of people in particular.

(f) The temperatures of -41 at the Pole last week have subsided and are now a lovely -30 ... although exactly who the heck would define that as 'lovely' when we're sleeping in tents is a mystery to me.

(g) The threat of Douglas coating me in Danish Bacon and throwing me out of the tent if I snore seems to have been mitigated given I'll probably not be sharing a tent with him.

(h) I hope to have a surprising photo for one of my colleagues at the Co-operative Banking Group, thanks to a sponsor of Seni and Sara. Watch this space!

The bad stuff so far: -

(a) David has found the fish paste and I've somewhat rashly committed to trying some on our last day here

(b) The waiting. We had 2 days contingency built into our Trek time and this has been lost now because last weeks' temperatures of -41 meant the runway at Barneo (which is only 1km long for the landing of a twin engined jet) was getting covered in snow, so all departures are delayed, including those running a polar marathon.

It's not that much of a concern to me but some of my fellow trekkers seem eager to willing extend the Trek by up to 4 days if we need to. Can't state strongly enough just how much I want to get the Pole AND return to the UK on the 17th April. Lucia has arranged to come down to Heathrow, Lauren is planning to stay at mine on the 18th and I have 5 meetings on the 20th I really don't want to have to cancel. Guess we'll see.

(c) Can't get rid of the darn butterflies. Last night they even decided to flutter around in my brain for an hour so whilst I had a great nights sleep .... which I needed after only getting 2-3 hours sleep the night before ... I did have a series of self-doubting questions pinging around my head akin to that plastic puck you find being slammed round the air-hockey games in seaside arcades.

(d) The sleds we'll be dragging are now forecast to be 45kg, whereas the training advice was 30kg. I assume the drag co-efficient will compensate. Was that a prayer that just whizzed through my head? I think so.

So there you have it, a quick hello from the Norwegian state of Svalbard and perhaps the last posting until I return tot he UK. A couple of the team have the technology to create their own wi-fi hotspots as we trek to the Pole, but I can't see me wanting to take my gloves off and type away. Instead there will be a few texts to the people who I love and a couple of phone calls but, other than that, it looks like you'll just have to wait until I'm back and able to communicate.

Thanks for all the messages of support before I got out here and the tweets I see here whilst we still have mobile coverage. I'm more at ease now than I was 24 hours ago, but then we're just about to try out the new skis, new boots and new bindings (along with 45kg sleds) so I guess my mood could change again, quite quickly.

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