Iceland to Greenland

Rod and Jo departed London’s Gatwick Airport bound for Reykjavik aboard IcelandAir

ICELANDAIR VIEW

They landed at Reykjavik (Keflavik Airport) and almost immediately had to dash to the departure gate for their connecting flight to Akureyri aboard an Air Iceland Dash8-Q400.

They duly arrived at Akureyri at 17h30 (local time) on Sunday and then had to make their way to their hotel.  It turned out that they had been booked into the annexe which suited the Callums just fine. This proved to be their first taste of the colder climate!

They had to walk about a kilometre in order to forage for food!  This, I think, will undoubtedly prove to be a sensible transition to life in the unforgiving world of Greenland (except there the polar bears are the ones foraging for food).

They were at least able to take in some of the beauty of Iceland.

Akureyi View

Monday soon arrived and it was suddenly upon them like the ground rush referred to by those who parachute!

They loaded up their kit and gear, wearing as much as they could bear as the airline does not count the gear that passengers wear. Unfortunately, they were hit with a hefty bill for their luggage as it was significantly in excess of the weight limit.

They set off for Constable Point aboard a Norlandair Beechcraft King Air 200 to be greeted by this sight …

Constable Point Airport

I should mention that this is a photo taken from their last trip. Tangent Expeditions have advised them that this area has recently experienced the most snow fall in the last 30 years.

They will set off – weather permitting – tomorrow via snowmobiles to their starting point for the crossing of Liverpool Land.

I will continue to update their progress upon receipt of messages from their satphone.

Please continue to check in for updates on the progress of our polar explorers.

 

 

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Return To The Ice Cap

Our intrepid explorers are returning to the scene of their first Greenland expedition. Like a first love that one cannot forget, they are determined to complete the ice cap crossing.

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In preparation for this expedition Rod and Jo embarked upon an excruciating course of core strength building coupled with endurance training. Fortunately, they are armed with the equipment and clothing required to withstand the frigid temperatures experienced in that unforgiving environment. For the uninitiated one’s freezer operates at about -16C whereas Greenland temperatures around this time of the year can reach temperatures of between -30C to -40C!! Tomorrow should be a sunny day with no clouds and the temperature is estimated to be -22C!

It is fair to say that they feel more comfortable this time and they are armed with far more experience. Rod is well versed in building igloos and they are veterans of hauling their kit on skis!  Rod has received some field surgery tips from that doyen of surgery, Craig Campbell, a fellow Scot with a passion for adventure.

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Duly equipped, they are presently in transit in the UK with their trusty Logistics Manager, Tracy Chisholm. Tracy has been instrumental in assisting them with the purchase of expedition food and gear in the UK (not too much of the kit can be purchased in South Africa).

They departed from Durban on 16 March and flew via Air France (with the masses as Rod puts it) to Paris and then onwards to London. They arrived somewhat exhausted, so it is somewhat fortunate that they were able to recharge for a few days under the watchful eye of Mrs Chisholm. She sends them on their way shortly via Gatwick Airport to Reykjevik (Keflavik Airport).

Boarding Pass Reykjavik

From there they depart on Monday from Keflavik in a short hop to Akureyri via Iceland Air on a Dash8-Q400. They then board what should be a Beechcraft King Air 200 from Akureyri to Constable Point in Greenland.

Constable Point Airport

Hello Old Friend!

So this blog will record their travels across the Greenland Ice Cap. Regular updates will be posted along with pictures when available. They will commence by travelling up Hurry Fjord from Constable Point.

Istorvet Map 1

More to follow soon ….

 

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Reflections Part 1

It is an appropriate time to reflect on the expedition and Rod and Jo have furnished me with a collage of photos depicting their trip. Their last trip left no time at all to take in the beauty of Greenland as it was literally a race across the ice cap.

On this occasion, they were determined to take in the experience rather than slog through the trip like a Comrades Marathon runner. They had their trusty Olympus camera equipment and they took the opportunity to record some of their experiences. This is part 1 of a two part series:

Drop Off

This was the drop off by Tangent Expeditions. I imagine they told Rod and Jo: “You’re on your own mate!”  Blue skies promised so much and the preliminary weather report suggested that they had been blessed with fair weather for their trip.

Ready, Steady, Go

Our intrepid explorers commence their journey.

A Cup of Tea

All life’s greatest quests are contemplated over a cup of tea.

Jo Belaying a Line

Jo getting ready to belay Rod crossing a crack or a fault line (depending upon whom you speak to) on the crevasse.

Polar Bear Perimeter Protection

Setting up tent and the polar bear perimeter warning system. In this environment, the polar bears hunt you for days and the Greenland Shark sees the polar bear as a delicacy. Consequently, Tangent insist on arming their clients with a rifle and some hot lead! Just for protection, you know.

Calf Deep Snow

I know I reported that the snow was thigh deep but we are talking about Callum here and his calves are like air-brakes! Nevertheless it was tough going, slogging through this as they made their way to the Hans Glacier.

I pause to mention some of the comments made on Facebook by some of Rod’s colleagues:

Some say he rode a polar bear wearing nothing but his undergarments whilst settling heads of argument. All we know is that he is known as Great Man Rod”

Some say that he wanted to sleep in Greenland with the tent down so he could see the stars and he once put factor 50 suntan lotion on a polar bear’s nose. All we know is that he is called Great Man Rod.”

HG1

So the Hans Glacier beckoned and off they trudged with blue skies above and virgin snow under their skis!

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Homeward Bound

I am pleased to report that our intrepid explorers were in fact collected and dropped off at Constable Point.

In light of the foul weather that was on the way they have decided to return to Reykjavik and took the flight out of Constable Point this afternoon.

I have decided to include a photo of Callum:

Callum on return

It is unusual as Callum does not usually smile for photographers. In this case, it may be the relief coupled with the expertise of Jo, the experienced and talented photographer!

I am sure that they will take some time to relax in Reykjavik and/or the UK on the way home. They have a number of friends who desperate to see them and the gap in their schedule will allow them the freedom to do just that.

So to family and friends, they are safe and homeward bound!

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Final Camp

It seems as though the Callums are not the only expedition team that needs assistance. There has been a slight change in plan. The skidoos will collect them tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.

Rod and Jo have sought shelter by nestling themselves in the lee of a koppie (for non-South African readers that would be akin to a small hill). Heavy winds have been forecast so they have even utilised their ice axes to secure their tent. The weather this evening is balmy (whatever that may mean in such extreme conditions).

Fortunately, they retain their sense of humour! Rod just messaged me to advise that Jo has rummaged up some fine dining in the form of brie on crackers as an appetizer with savoury beef and rice for mains. Jo has also prepared Rod some black tea, as a treat.

Their position is Lat: +70.667150 Lon -022.319100 at an altitude of +134 feet (which means that they have made their way down the glacier to a point near the designated rendezvous).

I have sent them a message just to let them know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

We will update the blog tomorrow once we have confirmation that they have been collected by the skidoos.

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Whiteout

The weather is a cruel and unforgiving mistress. She owes you nothing!

We have received word that although they have successfully navigated themselves over the Hans Glacier, Rod and Jo are hunkered down in what they describe as a total whiteout.

The temperature is -30 degrees! Just for the sake of some perspective, your deep freeze operates at about -18 degrees!They were unable to travel in such conditions.

As if that was not bad enough, they have received word that they have some “bad weather” on the way. I assume that that is Rod’s understated way of suggesting that an even worse arctic front is on the way that will cause temperatures to plummet further!

Their position is Lat: +70.689500 Lon: -022.042233 with an altitude of +2792 feet. You can see their position on the iridium website at http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=70.689500&lon=-022.042233

Rest assured they have the best equipment that money can buy that will protect them in these terrible conditions.

They have advised, however, that the race is on to get to the designated rendezvous point for pickup by Tangent Expeditions while the skidoos can still travel.

As soon as we have further news we will post an update.

 

 

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Deep Snow Blues

The Callums have almost reached the top of the Hans Glacier. As at 09h03 UTC today they were positioned as follows: Lat +70.679550 Lon -022.109900 at an altitude of +2007 feet.

You can view their position at http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=70.679550&lon=-022.109900

They have reported that the snow is still “insanely deep” with their skis sinking thigh deep into the snow, which has resulted in them struggling through 2km in 5 hours!

They do not see the snow conditions improving during the course of their expedition, however one would presume that it will prove to be somewhat easier after they have reached the top of the glacier.

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