Our first important milestone

A milestone today - skied 1/2 degree of latitude.
Victor Serov who I call into every night with our position is really happy with our progress: ” You are doing very well Bernice and you are doing science” is his encouraging response every time I call in.

I imagine he is sitting in a tent in Barneo with a giant map, North Pole in the middle, and plotting all routes towards the pole.
Each team on the ice has to call in coordinates at night so if something happens, they are standby with 2 MI8 helicopters to assist.
Like yesterday somebody had to get evacuated because of frostbite.

To get a compliment from a Russian scientist who has spend a year in Vostok in Antarctica [coldest place on earth] as well as being an accomplished polar explorer, we should be proud of ourselves to have skied 1/4 of the way on day 5.
But it hasn’t come easy.
The half degree has been really hard work temperatures dipped to -41C too cold to film, do science, all we can do is keep moving until we need to eat and drink.

The sleds weigh over 80 kilo’s and new pains and aches show unexpectedly in places you don’t want them, like my back.
On the odd break, I would get the notebook out, jot down the GPS position while Ann pokes into the snow and yells the various snow depths to me.
The rest of the day we are doing cold management: toes we don’t feel anymore and need nurturing or placing your thumb between the fingers to warm them up inside your mit, and worse letting your arm hang so the blood can race back to the extremities.

If you are cold all blood flows to your heart and core to protect it, so to call it back is playing a trick with your mind.
Despite this careful nursing, I still end up with frost nip on all fingers.
I now need to be extra careful with exposure to cold.

Today I kept thinking how the suffering for half degree of skiing is somewhat symbolic for the suffering we need to do to combat climate change and the sacrifices we will need to make to reduce our carbon footprint to stay under our 2 degree agreement.
Just like our expedition the beginning will be the hardest to execute.
Did it take 3 hours to get ready in the morning now we can do it in 2 hours.

Skiing nonstop and pulling a heavy sled, was only manageable for 1.5 hours at the time, now we do it 2 hours without stopping.
I suspect that at day 24 all the laborious work is easy, fluent and natural without ever thinking it could be so difficult.
Could our half degree of skiing be symbolic for the commitment to stay under 2 degrees of global warming?
And once you start the expedition there is no turning back and the only option is to stick with it all the way through to 2 degrees.

Lets hope we can pull this off for the sake of the gorgeous Arctic and eventually for us.

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