We left Oslo this morning and arrived in Longyearbyen to about -15, though windchill makes it feel a lot colder. Dirk and Keith were at the airport to meet and greet! Short drive into the hotel, converted from miners lodging. Longyearbyen is known for coal mining and some commercial fishing. It also holds the world’s seed repository. The seeds from the world’s plant life are stored here underground, safe from permafrost up on one of the mountains. Noah’s seed ark.
After we checked in we wandered around town. The houses are built up on wood stilts so that the frost doesnt’ cause them to break. The road’s are sheet of ice so all the cars have studded tires. We wandered past the church and into town. Stopping for dinner at Svarbar. The highlight of today was the sighting of real reindeer, followed by NO sighting of polar bears!Team is in great spirits though a bit tired from all of the travel. It will be great to have a day to recoup.
Long day of travelling is done. We are in Oslo. – 5 degrees and rainy, lots of snow on the ground. We met up with Michel at the airport hotel. Dumped the bags and went into town.
We went to visit the Fram Museum – home of the Fram – a famous ship for a few reaons – it was the ship that Amundsen took to the Antarctic when he bested Scott in the quest to be the first to reach the south pole, but that was a different trip! The other reason it is a famous boat is that Fridtjof Nansen purposefully put it into the ice in 1893. He was hoping that the ice current would carry the boat locked in ice towards the North Pole.
However in 1895 he and Hjalmar Johansen left the ship in a desperate attempt to get to the north pole, as the ship wasn’t close enough. They took 27 dogs, 3 sledges and 2 kayaks. What followed is one of the greatest stories in Polar history. Nansen and Johansen didn’t achieve the pole, but they did spend 3 years trying to get home and finally in May 1896 they met Frederick Jackson a British explorer who returned them to Tromso.
In the meantime the Fram drifted in the ice current and reached Tromso just one day before Nansen did! Remember this is prior to any form of communication that we are used to- meaning that neither the Fram and her shipmates nor Nansen/Johansen knew the other party was safe. Ultimately all landed back in Norway 3 years after they left, via different routes, 1 day apart – safe and sound!.
Tomorrow off to Longyearbyen
The day has finally arrived. We’re feeling 80% excited and 20% terrified!
Trudy came to the airport to see us off. She’s in good spirits, and will be hugely missed. We will definitely be taking her support with us.
The first travel leg begins – Toronto to Frankfurt. Then tomorrow to Oslo, and then Thursday to Longyearbyen. Although you can track the weather in Longyearbyen, we will be a couple thousand kilometers north, so likely a lot colder. We have a couple of training days in Longyearbyen then, weather permitting, we will be off to Borneo- the Russian Arctic station.
Thanks to everyone for all the warm wishes and thoughts, we need them to get ourselves through the cold nights!