|2005-04-17 - Serious thoughts regarding...
Serious thoughts regarding the North Pole when our goal at Ambarchik Bay is only 80 kms away!
17 Apr, 05 - 22:25
GPS-pos: N69°08´ | E161°29´ | Alt: 0 M
-13°F at 6 a.m. 23°F during midday. It´s been a sunny day plagued by a cold northerly wind, this Sunday the 17th of April. We´ve entered our 10th month of travelling and we´ve pitched our camp on the sastrugi at N 69°08´01.2 and E 161°29´00.0. We´ve skied 47 kms during two days.
It´s been two fast and easy days on the hard sastrugi. The taiga is giving way to the empty, vast, flat and horizon free tundra. We´ve spotted several watch towers and high fences on the banks in the east, to remind us of the sad history of the Gulags. The paradox, however, is that even though one of the worst crimes in the history of mankind have been committed here along the Kolyma, this is where I´ve come across the nicest and truest human beings during all my travels. Only a mere 50 years later!
That sad reality apart, I´ve thoroughly enjoyed the last two days. Since we both have skied since we learned how to walk, we travel fast and easy on the hard sastrugi without loosing too much energy. Even the heavy pulks travel easily on the sastrugi. We don´t ski more than 6 hours per day, since we prefer enjoying the heat, either in a snowshelter at lunch or relaxing in the tent. It, therefore, takes us 3-4 hours every morning to get out of the tent. Finally this last stretch, after freezing for months, we get a decent chance to enjoy life fully!
Unfortunately I´ve once again gone down with the explorers worst disease - namely serious thoughts regarding the next Expedition! When not thinking about my much loved wife, my family and friends, or the next meal, well, than I just churn out thoughts regarding this matter! Today I started thinking about the North Pole since it isn´t too far away and I thought, what would it be like to ski to the North Pole in a proper way during the most demanding circumstances? Or the South Pole? Not as it is generally done today, when hopefuls cheat by flying in, choosing the shortest and easiest route or using paragliders? No, by doing it in a way to equal the true explorers, those who mapped the world we know today, before the days of easy adventures started during the mid 1950´s? I mean during the most demanding time of the year? During the ice cold and dark Midwinter? Not like today, during this time of warmth, plenty of daylight and easy orienteering? Would it be possible to achieve for a simple human being? As far as I know, which as usual could be totally wrong, this haven´t yet been done.
Right in the middle of these thoughts, a Siberian hunter turned up on a snowmobile. The frostbites on his cheeks where the worst I´ve ever seen. So bad, that if a modern polar explorer would have suffered the same fate, he would not only have received first page attention in many tabloids in the west as a true he-man, he would have taken a sick leave for a couple of years!
´´Aaah, normal-na´´ , the hunter answered when we indicated the frostbites on his cheeks.
He then smiled and asked if we had fish and meat enough to last us to Ambarchik. If not, he would supply is with what we needed, since he had spent half year hunting and fishing by himself in the middle of nowhere. Only once had he been into Cherskii, then only to resupply. He had slept in a normal Russian canvas tent during the coldest and darkest months of the winter. -47°F average cold day and night. He hadn´t seen one single person and he said his hunting luck hadn´t been to good. But he had received plenty of exercise, since 6 days a week he walked 32 miles to check his traps.
´´Aah, Normal-na´´ ,he answered when we asked him how he could cope.
That was enough for me to stop dreaming and once again become a mere human being!