After three years… Back in business

As soon as I stepped inside the helicopter today at Barneo it all came back. The endless vastness of frozen sea water, 7 million square kilometers, the size of Europe. The incredible hostile and forbidden arctic that pushes you away - we humans are not welcome - but beckons you to come back if you stay away for long.

It has been 3 years since our last expedition to Canada from the North Pole yet the routine and expectations and anticipation has not changed one bit.

The Sleds were loaded into the Anatov 74 at 6 am along with lots of gear for the Barneo camp. Somehow there were 4 seats for people to sit on and the rest of us sat on foam pads strapped along the length of the plane. No seat belts were found. This is not an ordinary plane - it flew from Moscow to Svalbard since it can land on ice on a special runway built with a tractor.

During the flight we slept since there are no windows and the suspense of going and flying kept us awake the night before.

Barneo is still getting set up for the tourists that fly there, a marathon that is being held at the North Pole and the odd scientist who comes to collect data. After a wait of about one hour we flew to 88 N and 150 East were the pack ice is good and the drift in our favor.

From the window it looked spectacular but when the fog appeared we saw new leads of open water below us and lots of them.

It got me worried because the open water stretches were giant and potential expedition stoppers if you had to cross them. After 100 East conditions approved and it appeared we were back in thinker and more stable ice that is less dynamic of the influence of current or wind.

Miraculously the fog lifted too as we headed to our drop off point at N88 and 150 East. Helicopter touched down but did not shut off the engine as we got our sleds out and quickly disappeared back into the fog.

Then it was quiet. Quiet in the head, mind, body, all stress slid off me and the only thing that matters now is getting to North Pole - welcome back to simple life - where being warm, staying safe, fed and hydrated counts more then anything else.

I call it my arctic retreat.

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