Team: Rune Gjeldnes and Cecilie Skog.
Type: Summer expedtion from Canada to the North Pole, by skis and canoe.
Where: From Cape Discovery, via Position N 83.45 W 77.09 to Ward Hunt Island
Goal: First unsupported North Pole Summer Expedition. Aborted
Duration: 6th. june 2011 – 28th. june 2011
THE MOVIE FROM THE EXPEDITION
We visited the Norwegian Broadcasting´s summer evening program. Some clips from the trip, but it is only in Norwegian. Anyway, pictures tells a lot.
Day 21; Position Ward Hunt Island
Cecilie and Rune have arrived Ward Hunt Island! The skiing conditions were actually much better than anticipated and they skied in the last 10 km on nice flat ice. Yesterday they only did 3.5 km in the first five hours. The conditions were extremely difficult with pressure ridges and lots of melted and open water. Fortunately they got passed that pressure zone and the conditions improved. The Twin Otter is expected to pick them up tomorrow and fly them to Resolute Bay.
Pick-up at Ward Hunt Isl.
Day 20; Position N83.10 W74.30
Cecilie and Rune pushed on for 11 hours today and covered 11.5 km. They needed the extra hours to make sure that they make it to Ward Hunt Island tomorrow. The twin otter they used for the drop of at the beginning of the expedition is chartered for the whole first week of July, so they have a flight window of about two days. They are now only 10 km from Ward Hunt, so we expect them to make it tomorrow; however we know that the ice condition close to shore can be extremely difficult. The moving ice meets solid land and this normally this means ice rubbles and pressure ridges.
Outside Ward Hunt
26.06.2011, Day 19; Position N83.24 W75.38
IWE spoke with Rune last evening. Rune and Cecilie are 20km from the Ward Hunt huts (17km from the ice shelf), Rune estimates arriving at the Ward Hunt landing strip on the evening of June 28, local time (GMT –6). If the weather is good, the pick-up will happen around midday (GMT –6) on June 29 and landing in Resolute will be about 5-6 hours after the pick-up. John Huston – Forward Expeditions report.
23.06.2011, Day 16
Started with sleet and rain today, but changed into a beautiful sunny day on the ice very different from a rainy yesterday. 0 degrees is not very cold, but we felt cold and really wet coming inside the tent. First day we used the stove inside. Today we have had most fun with the wildlife. Several different seabirds showed up. It is strange to hear all that birdsong up here again. Down in the water we have observed several unknown objects that we do not have knowledge to. I do think I saw a kind of a small fish today. Tomorrow it will be fishing. We paddled the two biggest lead on the whole trip today. They were approximately 500-600 m and lovely. Down south east we can see the pyramid of Ward Hunt Island, where we are heading. Strange, but feels right due to the experiences we now have. Ocean Post C&R
22.06.2011, Day 15; Position N 83.34.50 W 76.10.00
We are on our way south, heading for Ward Hunt Island.
The skiing conditions have deteriorated dramatically. We spent 2.5 hours this morning covering only about 500 meters. The pressure ridges that we had to climb on our way north are now just chaotic masses of snow. Small unstable ice bergs with various densities floating in a soup of snow and ice. It is very demanding. Just about the worst conditions you can have. We cannot canoe, because the canoes get stuck in the slush, so we have to walk or ski on top of the slush. We constantly break through the surface so we have been soaking wet all day. Hopefully the conditions will improve in the next day or so! If not, just getting back is going to be a very tough challenge. PS! Still working on sending updated pictures, but not very successful yet. Are still trying, but in the meantime we will post pictures from our training in earlier this year. Ally canoe was amazing
21.06.2011, Day 14
We made 9.7 km in 8 hours today, but unfortunately in a southern direction.
It was obvious that we were too slow after 8-9 days, but we did not mention it to each other before day 10. But that day it was right timing. Have always said that the first 14 days tells normally how it will end. The decision to turn around seems to be very correct. The conditions up here have changed dramatically the last 4 days, and keep us down to 10 km in 8-9 hours. Lots of canoeing last two days, but most interesting has been all the gigantic water pools and with slush. Sometimes up to our knees. Both wet and cold feet, but I have had most trouble with no feelings in my toes during the day. Anyway, we are in good mood and with good health, heading for Ward Hunt Island. Sorry for not sending new pictures, but we have had trouble with the transmission last few days. I will keep trying. And I have renamed my canoe from Pondus to Southern Cross. Arctic Ocean Post
20.06.2011, Day 13; Position N 83.45 W 77.09. THE JUDGEMENT DAY!
We had to make the tough decision today! We cannot continue north.
We have to turn around and head for Ward Hunt Island. The dream was to canoe to the North Pole. When we prepared for this expedition we studied satellite photos of the ice this time of year. Photos from previous year’s shows long channels of open water criss-crossing like a maze towards the north. But not this year! There is almost no open water at all, and a current satellite photo indicates much more snow and ice this year than previous years. The option was to increase the number of walking hours a day and push towards north. With the current conditions we would probably still miss the pick up by the icebreaker at the end of July, even with the increased pace. If we decided to push on and failed to reach the icebreaker in time this could put others peoples health and safety on the line in a potential search and rescue operation. We definitely don`t want that to happen, so the decision is to turn south and head for Ward Hunt Island.
17.06.2011, Day 10; Position N 83.44 W 77.09
Today we had our first ice-bath. We just couldn’t pass a big pool of water without jumping into it! Sunny, not hot water and it became quite noisy, but a good feeling. And it ended up with half day walking. Felt for some rest after eleven days out and hard work. Biscuits and cheddar cheese and some coffee cups to celebrate. Tomorrow it’s a new day, and we do hope for good progress.
Day 9; Position N 83.38.35 W 77.31.40
We only did just 9.7 km today, even though we had some big and nice pans, spiced with some open water and pressure zones. Main challenge is really deep and wet snow. We are sinking in deep. It has developed over the last three days. We knew this would happen, and it will get even worse. But we have enjoyed the canoeing, and I almost sank Cecilie when I rushed out from the ice edge into the water, and hit her long side. Overcast and some rain all day. But it has been a joyful day on the ice. One seal and seagull. Arctic Post C&R
15.06.2011, Day 8; Position N 83.33.18 W 77.33.16
Overcast and periods of rain. Special day. Woke up with the sound of raindrops on the tent. Strange to be up here in rain. Got some good canoeing or Ally crossings as we call it. We got company of a seal. Very curious and could not stop watching us. For us it looked like he followed us from one lead to another. Cecilie wanted to feed him from her hand, but we considered it to be a hard test of our patience. Lots of ice-rubbles had a strange yellow colour today. After taking a closer look, we found out it was like thick mud on the ice. We still wonder where it comes from. New day soon.
14.06.2011 Day 7; Position N 83.28.23 W 77.29.53
12.7 km today! Sunny and hot all day. We get tanned quickly. This also causes slushy snow that we sink into constantly. The summer is definitely on its way. We can often see pools of melted ice and increasing every day. There are lots of leads and open water that slows us down, as it takes time to get across. But it was also the best and most wonderful part of the day. We got some really good canoeing. Without canoes, just sledges we would have been struggling – big time. Four nice leads were crossed in the canoes today. We were two big smiles. Wildlife report today: A big seagull circling above us and a seal taking a sunbath. Best day so fare concerning ice and distance, but the weather forecast indicates changes tonight, so we will see tomorrow. Arctic news C & R.
13.06.2011, Day 6; Position N 83.21.34 W 77.36.23
Day 6 on the ocean. Nice and sunny day up here. 3,4 C this morning. Which means wet snow and loose snow. Best day so fare, but still not good distances. Quite lot of lead systems. Not big once but we have to do lots of scouting to find a possible route through the labyrinth. One lead we could canoe. The routine is that I help Cecilie out and she takes me in. Well a good day on the Arctic Ocean today.
12.06.2011 Day 5; Position N 83.16.52 W 77.36.23 – 8 hours 7 km, temp 3.5 C, wind 0-2m/s.
New day on the Arctic Ocean. Weather-wise a beautiful day. A perfect day! Sunny and almost no wind. This means lot of melting too. Snow get really wet when it melts. Distance not very good, but that was it. Using much time to find the way through the obstacles. Did our first canoeing today. Three crossing in total. One was about 150m in each canoe. The best experience today! Had trouble with the first crossing, because of floating ice-rubble. The others were OK. Yesterday a seagull flew just above us. Nice and almost expected. But today, believe it or not, a black fly came flying around us and landed on my canoe. We are 30 km out from shoreline. I took a quick action on that tonight, with a snow bath. It must have been my sweat and smelly body that attracted it.
Rune traversing on of the many pressure ridges.
11.06.2011, Day 4; Position N 83.13.11 W 77.28.53
8 hours and just 3 km. Totally different day. It started with heavy rubble, and then continued straight into 6 hours with floating ice rubbles. We found a new lead but unfortunately not thick enough ice yet. Just pressured ice and snow.
We have been ferrying equipment. Forward a few hundred meters, then back and pick up the rest, and so in. Zigzagging to find a safe route, and have been using snowshoes. Cecilie stepped through once. No dramatic, but wet feet. Most of the distance was made during the two last hours. We had to cross several leads, but they were easy crossings. Sunny all day, and we are pleased with what we have done. We are now heaving a nice sunny evening in the tent. Drifting fast west and the pressure ridge we just crossed is gone and a big lead has open up. Good to be on the Northern side of that ridge!
Day 4; still quite a distance to cover
Day 3; Position N 83.11.45 W 77.30.26
Sun and wind 2-5 m/s. Heavy day! Well we have some hundred days up here. Been thinking all day if this is the worst pressure zone I have been in. Not yet sure, but the difference from earlier is those gigantic ice rocks all over. Was moaning on each new ridge. It’s even difficult just walking or climbing through the ice landscape. 8 hours and covering 2560 m to be precise. Have been ferrying all day. Ski and snowshoes, tumbling, one step at the time towards North. It is important, days like this, not to think too much about the situation and what we are doing, but rather think about something else and just smile or sing a song. On the other side it is just amazing and fun to look at the power of Mother Nature. Well, it looks like the area has been nuked or some hundreds of bunker-busters have had a touchdown. A nice sun has made navigation easier, and a snow-sparrow came and sang a song. Now camping on a beautiful flat pan 15x30m. Looks better in front.
Day 2; Position N 83.10.21 W 77.29.07
Day 2 on the ice. Reached 83 10′ 21N – 77 29′ 07 W, and covered the same distance as yesterday. We had to put on an extract hour to get through a bad area to a safe camp spot. We do not like to sleep few meters from open water and there were no good camp spots because of a heavy pressure zone.
White out with some snow and 5-8 m/s from NE. Yesterday, I said to Cecilie that I would not use the large Bergans jacket on this trip. It would be dead hot. Everything was forgotten today. I used it all day, and with the hood on. Quite heavy snow and ice conditions today…which is normal in this area. What is the big surprise is the huge and high sastrugi. Almost constant all day, and often 2 to 3 meters. The canoe is not really designed for that, but it endures and performs very well even with about 130 kg of equipment on board. We have been re-laying several times and helped each other to cross bigger obstacles. Well, 7 km is not so much, but much better than a kick in the ass. I’m the DJ tonight
Rune pulling the canoe over a sastrugi
Day 1; Position N 83.07 W 77.30
First day on the ocean! When we arrived yesterday it was sunny and almost no wind at Cape Discovery. Yes, we were supposed to start from Ward Hunt Island. The whole area was covered with clouds and no chance for landing. We had to fly 45 km west, to Cape Discovery which had good conditions. 11 years since I was there last time when crossing. Today we have done 7 km in 8 hours in white-out and happy with that. Quite heavy pressure zones. We had to go twice using snowshoes. Deep snow and a bit wet. The beginning of the summer is what we see.
Day 1; Approximately 800 KMs to go
Cape Discovery – Good to go!
Cecilie and Rune have finally arrived at the starting point of the expedition. Today the weather improved enough for the Twin Otters pilot to give them the go-ahead. They loaded the equipment and headed north towards Ward Hunt Island. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated and they had too set down about 60 KMs west of Ward Hunt Island. I guess Rune must have been very excited, because the landing site was Cape Discovery. The exact same spot where he and Torry arrived 11 years and 4 days ago, after their successful completion of their epic crossing of the Arctic Ocean.Anyway; they are a bit after schedule and a bit further south than planned, but that does not matter now. Cecilie and Rune are ready and very keen to commence on this first Summer Expedition to the Geographical North Pole!
Still waiting in Resolute Bay
Due to bad weather Friday and today we still are in Resolute Bay. The clock is ticking, but that is not a big issue yet.
The Weather forecast for tomorrow looks promising, and I have a good feeling that we are flying out tomorrow. In between we enjoy ourselves; relaxing, walking, eating even more and looking at the equipment – one more time. Excited! FEEL GOOD and ready to go North. Rune
Rune testing coms in Resolute Bay
Resolute Bay – Final preparations
Rune and Cecilie are making the final preparations for the First Summer North Pole Expedition in Resolute Bay, Canada. Resolute Bay is one of the northernmost communities in Canada with a population of approximately 230 citizens. The final shopping is done, and all the equipment has been repacked for the flight to Ward Hunt Island. The weather is OK for this time of the year with about 2°C and clouded to overcast. The weather forecast however indicates that this will deteriorate considerably the next couple of days. The plan is to be flown north to Ward Hunt Island tomorrow or Saturday depending on the weather.
Enjoying company with Harald and John. Brother´s from an other mother. Last update from Harald and the Arctic Ocean outside Ward Hunt Isl and John advising. Harald just have guided a Swede from the North Pole to Canada, and fresh ice-news is good to have. Big Mexican dinner last night. Now re-packing the cargo, ready to go up North tomorrow. Getting closer, and feels good. Bringing too much, but we do the last check up in Resolute Bay.
Packing and shopping
Did lots of shopping today. The last small things. John Huston (BROHAM) came up from Chicago and has been helping us with cargo and everything. Harald Kippenes just back from the Arctic Ocean and all of us at the same hotel. Good fun. Gone through the equipment and done some packing plus plus.
Last day in Hell
Went to the dentist and did some good drilling in my mouth. It has become a tradition that I go to the dentist the day before leaving on exp. Strange! But I hate it. Shopping and writing updates to the team and all involved. Packing the last gear, cashier things and everything. I can not forget the extra fue-lpump! Do not want to forget anything. Even have sent 200 kg I do believe it will be overweight. Good expeditions friend John Huston will be leaving for Montreal tomorrow morning and pick up the cargo. Cecilie has been packing, shopping and done some filming today. Do not have any relevant pic for today. Just one from Switzerland mountains.
Kongsberg Satellite Service
We went up to Tromso and visited Kongsberg Satellite Service today. Nice people, nice meeting, nice weather. They will help with ice images to our team back home. The best of the best. Then a good walk and shopping in Tromso after. Getting close to departure. Butterflies. There is challenges in front, but that is what we want and like.
EQUIPMENT SOON ON IT´S WAY TO RESOLUTE BAY
Canoes, tent, food and most of the gear is on it´s way to Canada, and Resolute Bay. Now it is all the small things to buy and pack. Just some few days left, and then we are off.
Packing food and gear and some fun
Cecilie came back from Greenland yesterday after one month there, and came up to Hell to do her packing of food. Went through the equipment-list and and did some good canoeing up in the river. Good fun with some rapids. There will not be any rapids up there, we hope. Picture taken of Asgeir Helgestad
FIRST SUMMER NORTH POLE EXPEDITION
Cecilie Skog and Rune Gjeldnes depart for Canada and the First Summer Expedition to the North Pole 27th of May. They hope to start from Ward Hunt Island 4th of June. The trip up to the Pole is expected to last for 55 days. About 1000 km has to be covered inclusive ice-drift. Temperatures is expected to be –5 to +5 degrees Celsius. If they make it, they will be the first to do a real North Pole during the summer.
Food has been packed for the expedition. Well, just for me. Cecilie has her own menu. Both well known to each others expedition food we do not change much. changed my lunch. Not so much oil as before, and more carbo during the day than normal. Breakfast and dinner vacum-packed today. Rations from 4500 – 5500 kcal.15.03.2011
Testing the canoe
During the winter we have been testing the Ally canoe as a replacement for the sledge. We were doubtful before we started. Today we are convinced that this canoe can endure the summer ice up North and give us several advantages on our journey to the North.