Les Expéditions polaires Arctiques / Saison Printemps 2006
|Le couple Aller-Leynaud sur la grande traversée Sibérie - Ward Hunt
Extraits de leur site web :
2006.06.09 In Resolute Bay
I received a mail 02:40 am Danish time saying that they were two hours from Resolute Bay. The pick up went just fine. So hopefully now, they a asleep, after a full meal.
Check in later for more news
2006.06.08, Day 98 On their way to Resolute Bay
Position: Same as yesterday
Earlier today Paul Landry's team met with Bettina and Jean-Gabriel and the plane from Resolute Bay was ready to fly out and get them out.
So if the weather holds both in Resolute Bay and were Bettina and JG are, they will now be on their way to Resolute Bay in Canada. From there they fly to Ottowa where they will meet with Bettinas children and mother.
Hpoe to see them back in Copenhagen sometime next week.
2006.06.07, Day 97 They couldn't concur nature
The situation has not improved and it has been worse than has been reported because they didn’t want to worry their families.
The fact that they have been walking/crawling/swimming in areas with a lot of open water and a lot of pack ice has not been held a secret, but the fact that they found themselves on an small ice island the other day when the ice and ocean around them started packing has been held a secret until now. The small island was rocking and is was pure luck that gave them the chance to get close enough to a lager ice block and hop onto that before the little island wash crushed between lager ice blocks.
The other day they were crawling over huge blocks of pack ice, when JG’s sledge fell down between to blocks. On the bottom there was open water. The sledge was so heavy it threatened to pull Jean-Gabriel down to, but luckily Bettina was nearby and could rush to his rescue immediately.
Those two events among others have forced them to make the difficult decision of being evacuated. There is nothing wrong with their health, but they fear for their life. They have used a couple of days looking for a runway and yesterday they found one. So today they have been preparing the runway, moving small ice blocks, nursing it on their knees. They are waiting for an answer from Paul Landrys expedition if they want to come out to. They are 16 kilometres behind Bettina and Jean Gabriel, so if they want to get out they will have to walk to Bettina and JG.
Tomorrow Bettina and JG will continue tiding up the runway, clearing it for ice blocks, for the ice that has been their home for 97 days and that has denied them to get to Canada. The Global warming won this round. It couldn’t be concurred.
Their trip has been extremely hard sometimes inhuman, but for now they are safe. Waiting for the weather to clear up in Resolute Bay, at Bettina and JG and in between.
2006.06.06, Day 96 They are doing fine
I haven’t got any great news and I can’t report about any great progress. But I can assure you that they are okay and still fighting.
They are surrounded by open water. The pilots that flew sledges out to Paul Landrys expedition, reported that 40 % of the area beck to Canada is open water. The global warming is showing its ugly face. The rest of the area is filled with pack-ice and soft snow during to the high temperatures.
I’ll be back with more news when I hear some. I’ll be back even though there isn’t any news
2006.06.04, Day 94 Slowly progress
Position : N86,185 V63,492
The ice is somehow better today, but the progress is still slowly. They are having problems with the phone so they just said they were okay. So no news is good news.
2006.06.02 Day 92 / No news are good news
Position: N86,325 W62,013
As the attentive reader might notice, there is no progress. In fact the opposite. And therefor this is all you are gonna get to day. I'll be back Sunday
2006.06.01 Day 91 / They had company
Position N86.342 W62.324
Total distance during the last 2 days: 22 km / Rest distance to Canada: 378 km
Yesterday they crossed 14 leads and went swimming 5 times. Today it was 21 leads, but only twice they had to get into the water. There is a hole in Bettina’s dry suit and though they have looked for it, they can’t find it, so every time they swim Bettina ends up being wet.
Their air mattresses are not working well. They can only hold the air for an hour, so they blow it up just before they go to bed and then they have 1 hour to fall asleep. But its not a soft bed to wake up in.
Today they meet a seal. It was just sitting there with no open water in sight. But when Bettina chased it to have a closer look, it suddenly disappeared into a little hole in the ice.
2006.05.30, day 89 / No progress
Position: N86,474 W59,492
Todays distance: - 2 km / Yesterdays distance 13 km / Rest distance to Canada: 400 km
What can I say? Well its not going very well.
Yesterday was pretty good. There was still a heavy storm from west, but the ice was pretty good. So they made 13 km and considered it a good day.
But then they woke up to another day in hell. And though I have written it before.. this has definitely been the worst day yet. They have passed 40 leads, 12 of them were crossed by swimming. They kept the orange swimming suits on to save time and to be on the safe side, since they were in constant danger of slipping into the water that had the consistence of slush ice. Slush ice that drags them down if they fall in. So they are tied together with a robe so they can pull each other up in case one falls in.
When they camped after 13 hours of walking and crawling they found out that they had drifted backward, so much that they were 2 km behind the place, they had started out from.
If this continues, there is no way they are going to make it to Canada, but since there is no way of getting out in an area like this, unless it is an emergency, they just have to continue the struggle.
But they still have the optimism, the optimism that tells them every night that tomorrow will be a good day.
2006.05.28, day 87 / Daily routines
Position: N86,654 W61,686
Todays distance: 3 km backwards and 3 km forwards / Yesterdays distance 17 km / Rest distance to Canada: 411km
After making 17 km yesterday in fair weather conditions they woke up to another snowstorm this morning. They had been drifting backwards while sleeping, so they spend the next 6 hours fighting their ways through the snow and ended up back where they fell asleep yesterday.
They camped early today because it was impossible to see anything. JG was twice in danger of going through the ice, but luckily he felt the ice beneath his feet change so he pulled back just in time.
So there is actually no news in their progress or the conditions they live under. So let me tell a little about their everyday routine, which also doesn’t change. I might have written something about this earlier, but there might be new readers.
When they wake up in the morning, they start brushing ice off the tents inner side and the sleeping bags. Then the sleeping bags go out and the burner comes in. They have to melt water for breakfast and the 4 litres of water they drink during the day. Then they eat and start packing everything down in the sledges. JG takes down the Polar bear alarm after they have dressed up with 4 pairs of socks each, one of them made of plastic to prevent moisture from going in.. When everything is packed and they are ready to go 2 ½ hours have passed.
Then they start the walking. They walk for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Then they take a 10 minutes break to have a hot cup of water together with some chocolate, nuts or salami. Then they walk again for another 2 hours and 20 minutes and take a 10 minutes break. This continues for 12 hours, when they finally stop to make camp.
They start by setting up the tent and JG puts up the Polar bear alarm. Meanwhile Bettina starts melting water for dinner and other things and then she starts making the calls home. They take the socks off and hang them up under the tent roof to dry. The smell from the socks makes it wonderfully homey ((-: Hope the food smells better. It tastes better anyway.
After dinner they brush their teeth and then its time to get the sleeping backs inside the tent. To prevent condenses in the sleeping bags, they have to make the tent as cold inside as on the outside. It should be very healthy to sleep in a cool temperature. Then they put on the night socks, the gloves and the night hat under which JG puts the alarm clock to make sure he will hear it next morning.
All this have taken around 3 hours which gives them 6 – 6½ hours before they have to get up again.
2006.05.26, day 85 / A gift of love
Position: N86,842 W62,537
Todays distance: 15 km / Yesterdays distance 14 km / Rest distance to Canada: 428km
First of all. The positions from the 24th were wrong. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did, but the positions today are right.
The weather is still bad and they are walking in total white-out all day long. Today they started rationing the food. They will spare 1/3 everyday which will assure that there is food for another 30 days. But also it was the day when Bettina gave JG a special gift.
Since they left the North Pole, Bettina has been hiding some of her food everyday. That made it possible to give JG a bag full of food today to the food rationing easier for him. He has lost every gram there is to be lost, so he was extremely happy for the love gift from Bettina. That gift might be the gift that makes it possible for him to keep going.
2006.05.24.Day 83 / Still an extremely difficult area
Position: N87,885 W60,801
Todays distance: 9 km / Yesterdays distance 15 km / Rest distance to Canada: 457km
It is still total white out and for two days they have been walking in an area, where the pack ice is lying big as houses and cars. There is water underneath and it makes it extremely difficult to move. The expedition with Paul Landry is stocked and have been for 6 days. They have built a runway for the chopper, but because of the weather it has been impossible for it to land. Due to this situation they are starving, both the humans and the dogs. So tonight or tomorrow they will get a drop with food from an airplane and then they “just” have to wait for the weather for clear up.
So the situation on the Polar sea is very difficult due to the weather situation.
2006.05.22, Day 81 / Somewehre over the rainbow
Position: N87,306 W60,357
Todays distance: 16 km / Yesterdays distance 15 km / Rest distance to Canada: 481km
Yesterday they were facing living hell on earth again. They were walking in an area with huge ice blocks drifting around in slush-ice. It was extremely hard and they just didn’t know how to get out of the area. Suddenly they saw a rainbow in the sky. They decided to follow the rainbow, not to get the pot of gold, but in the hope that it would lead somewhere out of this terrible area.
And it did. They actually came out after 4 hours.
Today the ice has been improving hour by hour. It is still white-out but the wind is not so heavy anymore.
They only have food left for 22 days and the chances of reaching Canada in 22 days are not very good, so from tomorrow they start rationing the food, which is not good for any of them, but especially Jean-Gabriel is very thin.
2206.05.20, Day 79 No new conditions
Position: N87,555 W57,705
Todays distance: 17 km / Rest distance to Canada: 512 km
There is no report of changes in the weather conditions. They are still facing white-out and rain and worst of all, a lot of leads. Today’s leads were 19, only the big ones counts. Everyday is the same as the one before, the thoughts are a rerun of yesterdays and the work of pulling and pushing the sledges are as straining as the day before.
The wind is hard coming from west and it makes the sledges go to one side. The pack ice is as big as cars and houses, and they have to camp in the middle of it, since there is no other place to go.
2006.05.19, Day 78
Position: N87,709 W57,0833
Todays distance: 18 km / Yesterdays distance 20km / Rest distance to Canada: 529 km
Unfortunately I didn’t get the phone today when Bettina called, so this is what she told on the answering machine.
There is no way they can go straight south, as the sea is very open. Yesterday they had to cross 27 leads and today 24. They are jumping from floe to floe.
Bettina fell today and avoided falling into the water, but she hit her back. But she did not tell whether she was in pain or not, so lets hope everything is ok
2006.05.16, Day 75 Hard to keep up the spirit
Position: N88,176 W54,209
Todays distance 13 km / Remaining distance: 581 km
Bettina and Jean-Gabriel have been walking for 12 hours today and have just made 13 km. This is due to heavy pack ice. It is so much that Paul Landrys expedition are considering to have the dogs flown out. It is too difficult to get the dogs through the pack ice.
This afternoon it was raining. Not an everyday experience, actually not seen before on that latitude.
They are really stressed, they want a cooler weather, a nicer ice and some sun.
More news will follow Friday due to a course. Not on N88 degrees, but in Denmark.
2006.05.13, DAy 72 / Under influence of the full moon
Position: N88,585 W54,501
The weather was really bad again yesterday May 12th. It was snowing, but the ice was just beautiful, so in spite of the bad weather, they made 20 km and they were happy when they hit the sleeping bags.
Today on the other hand, the weather was beautiful, but you could not say the same for the ice. The
fullmoon has a great influence on the Polar Sea, just like in our part of the world. The sea gets all busy and it ends up with pack ice in building-high ice blocks that has to be conquered. There is no open water beneath but if you fall on these ice blocks you are sure to hurt yourself.
But they have been crossing open water, 17 leads as the matter of fact. How they keep track on the numbers, I don’t know. Draw a line in the snow for each?
The weather is getting warmer and tonight they were sitting in their underwear in the tent. The underwear is the kind with long legs and arms! One of Bettinas boots is broken and they have to fix it. Earlier they had every intention of cutting down on the daily walking time when they took of from the North Pole, but it doesn’t seem like they have time to do it, as they only have 31 days of food left. I just hope their bodies can take the pressure.
They are hoping that tomorrow will be a day of clear weather as they have camped “in the middle of hell” surrounded by big ice blocks and in order to get safely out of the area, they need clear weather.
2006.05.11. Day 70 A good and a bad day
Position: N88,906 V50.723
Yesterday was a really good day. The weather was good, the sun was shining and the ice was just bloody perfect. The mood was high, but it was only until they woke up this morning to face yet another day of total white-out. The ice all broken up and there was pack ice everywhere, and that made it yet another extremely difficult day for Bettina and Jean-Gabriel. They “only” made 17 km which means that they have 657 km in front of them.
They had to camp early because of the difficult conditions.
2006.05.09, Day 68 / The ice is better and so is the progress
Position:N89,318 W50,205 Today they finally made a good progress. The day started with total white-out but after a couple of hours it cleared up and the ice was good, so they made 17 km today.
Lets hope it continues. They still have 698 km to do. And they are tired and exhausted.
Bettina and Jean-Gabriel says hi to all of you.
2006.05.05,DAy 64 / A day in hell, again
Position: N89,82 W55,72
Todays distance: 9 km
They have been through living hell since they left the North Pole. The weather is bad, its snowing and the sea is very open. They have been swimming more today than any other day on their trek. Jean-Gabriel fell and Bettina asked if he had been hurt, but he was more concerned with his job, so he wanted her to take a picture. And so she did.
It is extremely heavy to pull the sledges through the snow that have been coming down these past few days. Bettina compared it with pulling an elephant through the desert of Sahara. Wonder if she ever tried that.
The next week I'll be on vacation. I'll still keep you informed, but it will just be a short resume.
2006.05.04, Day 63 / The first day on the way to Canada
Position: N89.901 W308.583
Todays distance: 11 km / Rest distance to Canada: 769 km
So they finally reached the North Pole. What an extra ordinary achievement.
But the day they spend reaching the North Pole was yet another day of hard work. It started out all fine with the sun shining, and they started believing again after all those days, when it seemed that the North Pole wasn't as keen to see them as they were the other way around.
But then white-out started all over again and they lost sight again. They crossed 10 leads and Jean-Gabriel fell into the water and got wet up to his knees. One of the ropes that ties the sledges to them broke and they had to spend one hour repairing it.
But then just behind a huge iceberg there it was. The GPS showed: N90 degrees.
Today they have started out on the 40 days long unsupported journey to Canada. Everything they need for this trip, they are pulling behind them.
2006.05.03, Day 62 / They are on the Northpole and are spending the night on top of the world
More follows tomorrow
2006.05.02, Day 61 / Difficult and heavy
Position: N89,885 W149,824
They have just been through the mose diffcult day og them all. It is white out and pack ice all around them, not to mention thet the sea has not calmed down yet. It is very beautifull, but damned hard to ski in.
The sledges weigh a 100 kg. a piece and it hurt like .... in their heels because they have to walk bended forward all day.
They hope to reach the North Pole tomorrow. For those who have been looking closely at the position you might have asked your self the question; why don't they just continue to Canada now? Well I asked them the same question nad the answer was" it is not the real thing if we haven't been on the North Pole"
Ok, its their decision.
Bettina's eye is no better, but we still hope for a recovery.
2006.04.30, Day 59 / Drifting South
Position: N89,687 W153,472
Today's distance: Negativ
Yesterday's distance: The same
Rest distance to the North Pole: 34 km
This is really distressing. They drift 500 metres south an hour. Luckily the storm is over for now, so now they are waiting for the sea to calm down.
They got their support today so they have used all day packing, refilling fuel and organizing. The sledges are really heavy now and they are not sure how to have room for the tent and their sleeping bags. They have packed food for 43 days.
They have had their “bath” (wet napkins) and clean cloth. They were treated with cookies and Foie Gras from friends in Norway and off cause they also had Apple Pie from Bettina's mom.
Bettina's eye is not getting any better and she will contact the doctor herself today.
Lets hope for the best, so they can continue their expedition.
2006.04.29, Day 58 / Bad sight in more than one way
Position: N89,787 W171,158 (It is correct)
Today's distance: Not a real progres
Yesterday's distance: 19 km
Rest distance to the North Pole: 23,4 km
There is an awful storm at the top of the world these days. And that means that they have drifted around the Pole. But they still have to cross N90 degrees. Today they have been out for 12 hours, but because of the strong back drift, they are now at almost the same place as they were, when they went to bed last night. It's totally white out with snow that sticks to everything. Sticky ice they call it.
Bettina's eye is not getting better, so yesterday I contacted a doctor who knows about how the body reacts under these extreme conditions. From the symptoms I reported to him, he thinks that the eye has been freezing. So today Bettina has had a bandage to cover her right eye, like a Pirate, not from the Caribbean but from the North Pole. We hope that the eye will improve fast. Today she had to walk right behind Jean-Gabriel so he could be her eyes.
Bettina and Jean-Gabriel is waiting for the last supply, but with a weather like this, they don't know when they will get it. But they had hoped that they would be at the North Pole when they receive it, as they will have to work an entire day to get all the snow out of the sledges and to pack all their stuff and food for the remaining of their expedition.
2006.04.27, Day 56 / A lot of pack ice
Today's distance: 28 km
Yesterday's distance: 23 km
Rest distance to the North Pole: 45 km
Today Paul Landrys expedition reached the North Pole. Congratulations from Denmark. As you all know Paul's expedition is with dogs. And that shows how difficult the ice has been. Dogs that can easily walk 50 km a day and yet they are only 50 km ahead of Jean-Gabriel and Bettina. Because when there is pack ice it is not an advantage to have dogs, when there is a lead it is not an advantage to have dogs. And since there have been a lot of both, it has not always been an advantage. But, but, but. They have “only2 been on the ice for 6-8 hours a day where Bettina and Jean-Gabriel have been out for 12 hours a day. So there you have the reel advantage. You don't get as tired.
But still: Comgratulations
Bettina and Jean-Gabriel are in a very difficult area right now as there is a lot of pack ice, and I mean a lot. So in spite of the fact that there are only 45 km to the North Pole, they are not sure if they can make it until Saturday. It might not be before Sunday.
Bettina is having trouble with her right eye. She can't focus and the sight is somehow blurred. She thinks herself that it is due to fatigue. I hope so, and I recommended a day of rest on top of the world. They both need it pretty badly.
They both thank you all for your messages and letters.
2006.04.25, Day 54 / A hurting knee
Position: N89,134 E118,102 Today's distance: 26 km
Yesterday's distance: 28 km
Rest distance to the North Pole: 96 km
Yesterday they used the kite for 4 hours until the wind died. But it gave them something else to do. Today they walked in an area with a lot of pack ice, so it was a continuously climb up and down, and off course Bettina hurt her knee. Fortunately not bad. That would have been a shame so close to the North Pole. Yes I know that they are going to go all the way to Canada, but it would be a shame to quit because of a knee just before the North Pole.
Saturday they are getting their last resupply, and it is received with mixed feeling as it will be their last supply and that will therefore make their sledges much more heavy 100-120 kg a piece. Quite heavy to pull.
2006.04.23, Day 52 / Anniversary
Position: N88,668 E112,393
Previous two days distance: 29 km
Todays distance: 24 km
Rest distance to the Northpole: 149 km
The previous two days it has been total white out. And the wind has been coming from North which made them drift back.
The 21. April it was their 50th day on the ice and it was also their 4 years anniversary. Not far from the place where they actually met each other. They celebrated by baking pancakes, but unfortunately they were not worth eating, burned on the outside and raw on the inside. Bettina didn't eat them, but Jean-Gabriel needs every calorie he can get, so he ate them.
But today the weather has been nice, sunny and clear. They walk 12 hours a day, which only leaves them 6 hours sleep as it takes 2½ hour to get ready in the morning, and it takes 3 hours at night from they take off the skies until they are ready to crawl into their sleeping bags. But they have decided to walk 12 hours a day until they reach the Northpole. After that they will only walk 10 hours a day.
Jean-Gabriel thanks for the mails from his family and friends. It keeps the spirit up.
2006.04.20, Day 49
/ A beautiful Day
Position: N88,187 E106,034 Yesterdays distance: 16 km
Todays distance: 19 km
Rest distance to the Northpole: 202 km
Yesterday they started the day by breaking a tent pole that took them one hour to repair. With the result that they got numb fingers and had to clap their hands to get the blood running again. Bettina has had pain in one of her toes, but that vanished when her feet got so cold she couldn't feel them. The tent pole got fixed and they got on their skies and when they made camp, they saw that they finally had crossed the 88. Latitude. They had had the feeling that the 87. Latitude wouldn't let go of them, but finally it let them go.
Today has been one of those days they wish would come more often. Lovely sunshine, sparkling snow, blue sky and no pack ice. Bettina made it sound so wonderful that for a spilt second I wished I were there.
As you can probably tell the mood is improving very much at the Polar sea
2006.04.16, Day 45 / Sisyfos on the Polarsea
Position: N87,568 E105,226
The legend of Sisyfos was not told in vain. Who else could have named the hard work they are facing every single day on the Polar Sea.
Like Sisyfos rolled the stone up the mountain only to see it rolling down again when he reached the top, they struggle onward in the blizzard. In headwind, in the cold. Ten hours every day they fight their way North on their skies that is when they are not forced to cross a lead by swimming, only to find out that they have only come another 5 km closer. Only to find out that most of the kilometres they put behind them, have been taken away from them again by the wind, just like the stone that rolls down the mountain.
The only light right now is that it seems that the wind is changing. But it also opens the sea and gives them more leads that has to be crossed in one or another way.
As you might have discovered by now that Easter spirit on the Polarsea could be better. But Jean-Gabriel has his own form of humour. He claims that it has to be tough; otherwise the Polarsea would be crowded with people. Well I can without any warning think of at least ten things that keeps me away from the Polarsea But if they really think that it is only the hard skiing that keeps me and others away, I'm not going to correct them.
2006.04.14, Day 43 / No happy Easter
Position: N87.327 E104.102
The weather is very bad on the Polar sea these days. A heavy wind from North makes them drift south, so after a hard day there is no energy left whatsoever. When they have a break during the day, they just sit on the sledges starring straight out.
At the end of the day there is only a 5-6 km progress because they have been drifting back.
Not a happy Easter on the Polarsea
2006.04.12, Day 41 / Champagne and caviar
Less than 333 km to the Northpole
They got their supply yesterday. They waited until 11pm, but it turned out that it was worth waiting for. Not only did they get Bettinas moms Applepie, they also got Russian Champagne and Kaviar. What a party. And then they could crawl into fresh sleeping bags, with no ice in. What a luxury.
Today they forced their way though with very heavy sledges in white-out. The weather has been like this for a week know, and it is wearing them out.
2006.04.11, Day 40/ Supply
Position: N87,073 E98,383
They got supply today, which was lucky since they had no food left. And for a while there was a chance they couldn't get supply as the weather was bad with white-out that had bothered them for the last couple of days. But the weather cleared up and the chopper took off. Bettina called me with their position and then I called Russia with her position.
I guess they succeeded since I have heard nothing else. But we will hear more
2006.04.09, Day 38 / Flying to the Northpole by kite ?
Position: N86,716 E94,703
Yesterday they tried the kites again, this time they untied both kites, so they each wore one. The wind was very strong and threw them from side to side. Resulting in Jean-Gabriel being thrown into the ground with a sledge on top of him. He was unable to get up by himself, and had to wait for Bettina to get free of her own kite to rush to his rescue. Luckily he had no serious injuries, but he had heard something slipping back and forth inside his knee. But it takes more than that to hurt a French hero, so they continued a couple of hours after that with the kites and it was the weather that forced them to make camp. There is still white-out and it tires them very much.
Today they wanted to use the kites again. The wind was stronger than yesterday and suddenly Jean-Gabriel was lifted 1½ - 2 meter up in the air. Fortunately he was tied to both sledges and has he not come down by himself, Bettina could have pulled him down by the ropes tying him to the sledges.
Their burner was broken and had to be fixed before they could make dinner. But when I spoke to Bettina they were ready for dinner consisting of mashed potatoes with fish.
2006.04.07. Day 36 / When one of your senses doesn't work anymore
Position: 16 km after N86.148 E92.368
Which was their position yesterday when they camped.
It has been two awful days. To days with white out. Two days with no sight. Two days with dizziness. Two days in hell. When there is nothing to focus on, your ability to balance normally takes over, but when you are in a position when the weather ruins your ability to focus for so long time, it also ruins your ability to balance, so somehow you find yourself skiing without being able to see properly, and with the feeling of dizziness overwhelming you all the time. Its just awful.
But they are still making progress, though it was only 16 km today. It is tough. And they are only one third of the way.
Merci beaucoup from la familie de Jean-Gabriel for the greetings. I will be happy to give it to him.
2006.04.05, Day 34 / Bettina tries out the kite
Position: N86,006 E,91,921 I have to tell you. The kite is actually working just as I told you. Almost that is. It's like a small parachute with a kind of stick in the middle. You hold it in front of you like a “spinnaker” (well known to people that sails) and then you hope for wind from the south. After a short debut from Bettina, Jean-Gabriel took over as the wind fell. But even Jens-Gabriel had to give up, when the confronted a wide lead and they faced white out. They swam across the lead, but had to make camp on the other side because of the lack of vision.
They have seen a lot of tracks from arctic foxes, and when you know what arctic foxes eat, you should be surprised that they haven't seen more tracks from polar bears.
2006.04.04, Day 33 / Progrees
Position: N85.836 E91.001 A progress of 28 km. They started using the kite today. I'm not quite sure how it works, as I forgot to ask because I had created my own picture already. Though I'm not sure about the facts, I'll still tell you the story or rather describe my self created pictures to you. I see Jean-Gabriel standing on his skies, holding a kite in his hands, both sledges are tied to his waist, and waiting for the wind to fill the kite, and there it goes, the kite fills with air and Jean-Gabriel floats over the ice. On his side is Bettina, whose job is to make sure that the kite and the sledges stay free of pack ice and other obstacles. As you can hear they had very good ice today. Sometimes there were belts of pack ice where Bettina was the one to pull the sledges through,Such a fine day
2006.04.02, Day 31 / Toothache
Position: I'll put it in, when I receive it on the computer A couple of hard days with lots and lots of pack ice. Jean-Gabriel has a toothache and wants Bettina to pull out his tooth, but she declines. But she has offered to repair it with some special paste/cement for that purpose. But Jean-Gabriel declines. They are both aching in their Achilles sinew as a result of walking with the body leaned forward with heavy weight behind.
The sun is up 24 hours a day, so no excuse for taking a sundowner in case they had some champagne with them.
Just another 515 km. before they reach 90 degrees North.
2006.03.30, Day 28 / Walking along the lead
Position: N84,82 E89,01
Only 578 km to go. Well until they reach the North Pole. Lets not talk about how far it is from the North Pole to Canada. Yesterday they started out, but after a short walk they came to a very wide lead, which Jean-Gabriel suggested they should cross by swimming. Somehow Bettina is not that fond of swimming in the Polar Sea, so she suggested that they should follow the lead to find a way to pass it without swimming. And as you all know, behind a successful male adventurer, there is a female that makes the decisions. S o they started walking along the lead. They walked north west, so it wasn't completely wasted to walk along the lead, as they were heading north. At last they camped, hoping the night would help them by closing the lead. But during their sleep the wind got stronger and when they woke up, the lead was even bigger that the day before. So they continued until they by luck found a spot where the opening was only app. 50 metres. Then they began swimming. Yesterday they crossed a Polar bear track, a fresh one, and today they saw a track again. But today it didn't seem fresh, so it was probably the same tracks. I guess the polar bears are also heading north, but it seems as they are taking a more direct way instead of walking forth and back like Bettina and Jean-Gabriel.((-: They also saw tracks of a polar fox and meet 5 seals. Don't tell me its lonely on the polar sea.
2006.03.26, Day 24
/ An iceberg
Position: N84,138 E89,767 As you can see on the position the wind is still drifting them east, and if they were not moving north every day, you could also see, that they are drifting south. So even though they have been walking 10 hours today they only did 12 km. And it has been a beautiful day with sun and the ice has been very good to, so 12 km is not much, but they are walking 2 steps forward and drifting 1 back all the time. Not very motivating, but not a fact they can change.
They saw an iceberg today. Just there in the middle of nowhere, probably coming from Siberia.
No other news, but that they are both well.
2006.03.21, Day 19 / A mystery on the Polar Sea
Position: N83,654 E90,889 A mystery occurred this morning. When they woke up, they discovered that an animal, probably a Polar fox (Snow Fox), had bitten and ruined the handle on one of Bettina's skies. But the real mystery was that one line, used to hold something, has been cut over. One clean cut. But as the investigation went on, they found out that it was a piece of ice that has cut the line.
It has been another great day. They have been walking 23 km, and even though they go 20 degrees east again, they end up more westerly than the day before.
The ice has been exceptionally fine today. Almost like walking in Antarctica as Jean-Gabriel puts it. Now we all know exactly what quality of ice he is referring to. Don't we ??
2006.03.18, Day 16 / They have crossed the 83, latitude
Position: N83,075 E92,586
Today they crossed the 83. Latitude. For every latitude they put behind them, another 111 km. is also behind them.
They have been fighting today. Crossing 15 leads, one of which Jean-Gabriel put his foot in. Not for the first time that is, but luckily just his foot. He was crossing a lead, when he could feel the ice shivering beneath him. He couldn't turn back, because he had to move all the time, because the ice was so thin, so he spread his legs to put the weight over a larger area, and he got over, expect for the last step in which his foot went through the ice.
They have walked for 10 hours today and put 28 km behind them. This is quite an achievement, the wind is still hard, only now it is more an easterly wind, but it is not warmer.
They saw fresh polar bear tracks today, but they were moving east, and Bettina and Jean-Gabriel are drifting west, so I guess they will not meet.
Bettina and Jean-Gabriel were very happy to receive the regards you all sent them. Keep them coming folks. They are highly appreciated.
2006.03.11, Day 9 / Meeting with a polar bear
Position: A bit more north than yesterday The day started out with breaking one of the tent things. Then they began walking. Bettina was walking behind Jean-Gabriel with her sight planted in the ground. Suddenly Jean-Gabriel shouts "polar bear", "what" says Bettina. "Polar bear" he repeats and Bettina looks up and see a polar bear walking beside a lead in front of them. Bettina rushes to the sledge to fetch the gun. It's not a real gun, but a gun to fire rubber balls, which should give the bear a scare. Jean-Gabriel is ready with the camera and starts filming. The bear looks at Bettina and walks towards her. She starts to yell to prevent the bear from coming closer. He stops. It is a big, beautiful polar bear. He looks at Bettina, trying to figure out, if she is a better bet, than a seal in the lead. He comes closer; his head held high, Jean-Gabriel is filming and unable to see the distance between Bettina and the bear. The polar bear decides that Bettina is worth going for and moves closer to Bettina. When he is 12-15 m. from Bettina, she raises the gun. Her yelling doesn't scare him anymore. He moves closer. She aims and shoots him with the rubber balls. She hits him, she knows that, but he doesn't seem to care. He just shakes his big, beautiful body. But is makes him stop. He looks at Bettina, wandering if it's worth his while, and lucky decides that its not. He turns around and walks away. Jean-Gabriel stops the camera. Happy for the film and the fact that his girlfriend survived.
When he is gone, Bettina and Jean-Gabriel take on the swimsuits to cross the lead. But one third out they have to go back. They do not have enough strength to continue, so they return to make camp and wait for the lead to freeze. It is an early stop, but since they have to repair some stuff, its not a waste of time.
Paul Landry and his team are camping close to them again.
Bettina's Argos is not working again, and when I talked to her, she forgot to give me their position. And I forgot to ask. Such a detail
2006.03.07, Day 5 / Crossing the 82 latitude
Position: N82.027 E96.193 It has been an awfully cold night. They sleep in lot of layers, one of them like a plastic bag, designed to keep the moisture out, but it does get cold inside it, so Bettina was freezing all night.
Today the weather was fine and they started out really good until they came to a lead. It was pretty wide, so they decided to cross it by swimming. Jean-Gabriel began swimming but halfway he was so exhausted he saw sun, moon and stars, and had to take a break. The lead was a lot wider than they had anticipated and Jean-Gabriel also had to break thin ice in front of him while swimming. But fortunately he came across and could draw the slegedes and Bettina over.
Later on they came to a new lead, and Jean-Gabriel was ready to cross it by swimming again, but Bettina found that they have been lucky enough for one day, so they moved on until they reached a point, where they could crawl over. On the way over they saw a seal, cute but also a sign that there might be polar bears near by.
The first place they tried to camp the ice was to hard !!! so they had to walk for another hour before they found a place to camp. They have been walking 8 hours today and they are pretty tired.
2006.03.03, Day 1 / Starting out
The expedition has finally started ! Bettina and Jean-Gabriel are now on the ice. It has been a beautiful day, but also very cold. Not that that should come as a surprise, but for one expedition it obviously was, for after spending two days on Cape Arctichesky, he decided it was too cold and went back to Sredney on the chopper that Bettina and Jean-Gabriel arrived with.
They are now in their tent camping beside the dog expedition, hoping the dogs will keep the polar bears away for the night.
There's pack ice all around them, but ot gives them something to start up with tomorrow.