Pen and the #ArcticMission
When I lived and worked in the Eastern Arctic, one of my responsibilities was for projects on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic. As a result, I grew to know that part of the North quite well.
Often, some poorly prepared southern celebrity ‘arrogant’ would stage some Guinness world record attempt at a run for the pole for personal fame and fortune out of Resolute. Most left broken, conquered and broke, with a new found humility for the real physics of the planet they thought they knew and understood. At the end of the day, their Science was definitely unsettled.
I confess, having regularly used the Twin Otter on Wheel/Skis on Land and Ice in summer and winter at the top of the world, I somewhat resented the narcissistic dash and dink crowd’s self-centred arm waving for attention. That was long before the days of the dreadful lowest common denominator for instant fame, aka social media of today.
So it’s with some interest because of a decade + of direct onsite understanding of the High Arctic that I’m following the adventure of Pen Hadow, Explorer Extraordinaire. He seems to be an Expert of Arctic Attempts, so I’m quite sure he understands it can turn on you in a New York minute and terrify you to your core, even if you think you are equipped for the worst you can imagine, especially in this, the beginning of the downturn shoulder season for the High Arctic.
I’ve been within a few hundred miles of the North Pole on several occasions in different seasons. I see that at this moment (2017-08-22) the #ArcticMission is about 850 miles away from the pole, and slowing in a logarithmic fashion. I would assume that is mostly because the winds are light at the moment, not that they are yet running into ice. ( I assume ‘wind’ as their main driver, because their basic published theme spins very green and ergo, anti-fossil carbon).
As I recall from the last century, even further north (of the 80th) this time of year at minimum ice, the straits were still open (in the last century), as I can recall watching the whales at sea around Ellesmere from the Twin Otter when we were heading into and around places like Grise Fiord.
Good Luck to you and your crew. I’ll leave it at that, with this observation: While FDR said there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, I would add that the real enemy is your modern ego, which is perfectly capable of vainly leading you to your date with the grim reaper without so much as a sober second thought.
Follow up: Sept 2017
Looks like the closest they got to the North Pole was 1100 Km away. They’ve turned back because of the Ice. Considering their penchant desire for attention, it seems very odd that they’ve gone silent on all their hashtags, their blog and so on. Perhaps they’ve frightened themselves at the floe’s edge. Maybe the story is not unfolding as their twitter accounts would have you assume. Time will tell. If this ‘adventure’ to save the arctic just silently disappears as we head into Ice creep season, you’ll know. For my part, I’ll just say “Told you So” unless I see that they’ve published a book that explains otherwise.
The Arctic always wins. Just ask Martin Frobisher, Captain of wooden sailing ships in search of the Northwest Passage centuries ago. You are just a guest on it’s terms. Mind your manners.
The Voyage as of August 31:
The minimum ice extent is measurably higher than it’s been since a decade ago (2007:)
-the old man