I’m trying to find the best way of describing the wind blowing on your face, cutting across your skin, 24 hour darkness, and my recent 8 days in Svalbard. It was tough, mentally challenging, boring at points, exhilarating at others…. While I deliberate on the words for my next blog post, here are some pics.
1) The start of Arctic Andy’s with ice beard (it got better)
2) Me on polar bear watch at 3am (I was so pleased not to be sleeping in a snow trench)
3) Ropes for storm proofing the tent
4) The cooker – I sat in ‘the kitchen’ and melted snow for 3 hours watching the stars
This weekend I will head out to the icy, snowy lands of Svalbard, Norway. It’s a wonderful training venue that sits just 600 miles from the Geographic North Pole. The whole island is home to 2000 people and around 3000 polar bears. It will be dark every day, all day. The polar night is in full force which will make expedition training somewhat difficult.
In Svalbard I will be reuniting myself with Mike and Howard, my skis; sit outside in my thermals until hypothermia sets in so I can remind myself what it feels like; I will be putting up and taking down the tent in the dark, possibly in a snow storm and attempting to keep a clear head and remember exactly how many tent pegs are going into the ground. I will be partaking in a search and rescue exercise, walking into the Greenland Sea once more and learning about how to recognise different ice – how to travel across it and the use of different equipment on the floe-edge. First Aid and Arctic medicine will be back on the training menu, as well as route finding, navigation and the orchestration of Arctic evacuation. It’s going to be a busy 8 days, but one that I am very much looking forward to.
The weather is dipping between -5’c and -20’c at the moment, but with an arctic wind, that will drop further.
I am looking forward to seeing the old miner of Longyearbyen who sits in the centre of the town, waiting patiently for the sun to shine upon him once more.
My kit is ready, my mind is ready, I am excited, I just need to find my head torch.
For an exciting view of the town see here.
The sun worshipper of Svalbard