Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21 - It's like getting on a freeway...

N 89.46
E 95.16

Just prior to our teams arrival on the ice there was a storm on the polar sea. Lots of wind caused the ice to fracture in many places, and our team is skiing across the remnants of this maelstrom on their way to the Pole. This means that they are finding many pressure ridges (caused by two pans of ice colliding), and many leads that are in the process of refreezing.

A good comparison to these obstacles is driving in heavy traffic. Pressure ridges and open leads take time to negotiate. They can be frustrating and tiring, and it can feel like you are in an icy grid lock. But if you are lucky enough to find a lead that is a few days old, heading north, with ice that is strong enough to support a skier, it is like getting on a freeway where YOU are the only car. Suddenly you can make fast northward progress, and with far less energy than you were expending getting over the pressure ridges or around the open water.

This was the experience our team had today. They encountered a huge frozen lead, heading North, and they were able to clock several miles before it started to turn southward. And to make it all better, the ski was blue and the winds were calm. Overall a "smashing" day on the Arctic Ocean.

As we spoke with the team they were relaxing with bowls of hot soup and mini pizzas, and preparing for dinner. They are having a great time... working very hard, but thoroughly enjoying themselves. Ian is doing some good cooking tonight, keeping the team well-fed and energized. Andrea is providing great conversation and Elham had a "banner" day. Taylor is doing a great job and learning more than he could in any classroom. Let's all send them warm thoughts and hope for continued good weather!

Check back tomorrow for another update from the team!

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