The Arctic Polar Expedition / Season Spring 2005


The Bering Strait Odyssey (Dixie Dansercoer & Troy Kenkels)


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Wednesday April 13th
After their abandon on April 9th - setback due to a too strong southerly drift of the ice pack -, Dixe and Troy wanted to wait in Nome until today to decide if they should make another attempt in the following days. Answer tomorrow probably.

Tuesday April 5th
Troy and Dixie set out at last on 31st March. On their first day, they were plunged directly in at the deep end, as it were. Having to cope with difficult ice conditions, with it too thick to move, but not strong enough to stand on, plus a powerful drifting current at the same time, Dixie managed to fall into the water. On day two, the southerly drift prevented them from making progress, so they decided to go with the flow and head due East. Day three saw them heading back in the right direction (west), with a good forecast of snow for the following day. The ice has
been very unstable since they set out: more often than not, the two men have to make their way through a jumbled maze of thin ice. At the same time, the North wind is making them drift southwards, which is preventing them from overcoming the strong drift they have been experiencing since the outset.

Tuesday March 29th
A new storm system blew into Wales today, reducing visibility to almost zero due to snowfall and increasingly heavy winds. Weather predictions from the reliable Belgian KMI indicate that this newest bout of bad weather should last two days. Saturday and Sunday will see the worst of the heavy winds, but by Monday the winds should diminish considerably.
For the time being, their departure is postponed...

Friday March 25th
Dixie and Troy are still waiting for one of the airports where the helicopters are based that could come to their assistance if they were to experience a serious problem out on the ice, to tell that that a chopper is on standby, just in case. But thus far, at least by 25th March, they have received no information.
During this time, a tragic event has shattered the peace and quiet of the small village of Wales , which is home to 160 people and where the explorers are waiting; last year, one of the men at the village disappeared while on his way home on Christmas Eve. None of the searches conducted had turned up any clue, but the man was found yesterday, frozen, in the midst of one of the compression zones that skirt the coastline.
To see what the people of Wales think about the trek that Troy and Dixie will be attempting, see the article published in the local newspaper, the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

Sunday March 20th
It is now over 5 days that Dixie and Troy have been waiting to set out on the ice. First of all, it was bad weather, as well as a lack of ice (not to mention the powerful current running against them) that kept them pinned to the Alaskan coast at Wales . Then, with the weather forecast a little more kind (they had taken a short reconnaissance trip north of Wales, where they could actually have left from as the current was a little less worrying), it was a stroke of fate that stopped the two men from venturing out on to the ice. They had in fact decided to depart into the open water, when they learnt that it would be impossible for the American logistics people (on whom they were counting) to guarantee that a helicopter would be ready to take off should things take a turn for the worse for the two men in the straits. One of those on-going mechanical problems, apparently. For its part, the other flight operators available in Nome were unable to supply pilots earlier than a week. So there was no way they were going to leave without this essential logistical support.

“I think the best human quality for a polar explorer is patience!” declared Dixie in his dispatch on 17th March. “We knew in advance that this expedition would require the right strategy and we would have to wait to be able to set out with the conditions as favourable as possible. We will know intuitively when the right time comes. All of the other pressures from the outside just go over our heads like so many clouds.” Well, they are going to need plenty of that patience for the time being...

Wednesday March 16th
From their website :
Freight Train Rolling 07:00 (Belgian time) /21:00 the night before (Alaskan time)
"The ice just roared right by like a freight train!" exclaimed Dixie tonight during his daily update. During the wait for the weather to clear, Dixie and Troy chose to take advantage of their time and do a bit of reconaissance along the shores of Wales . To their surprise, the ice flow performed a dance of powerful proportions. "De rekening is snel gemaakt: 5km maal 24 uur, zo zitten we snel aan de noordpool!" ("The equation is easy: 5 km times 24 hours, before long we're sitting on the North Pole!") Dixie made this observation after he was obviously impressed by the powerful current. The hope is to now be more patient than Mother Nature herself. A northerly wind that blows to the South will equalize the rapid current. There will still be open water, but it should be manageable.
When will the departure be? Dixie asks that our visitors see the newest VIDEO in our MULTIMEDIA section. What do you think?
Julie Brown / Nome , Alaska

Sunday march 13th
11:15 Saturday morning in Alaska / 21:15 Saturday evening in Belgium
Troy and Dixie have confirmed their safe arrival into the village of Wales, Alaska. Dixie phoned late last night to say that their Bering Air flight was uneventful and that their welcome was warm into the home of the Richard family. Dan and Ellen, the generous couple who hosted us last year during our training trip to the Strait, opened their doors to the group of five weary men.
Troy and Dixie have since had a good night's sleep and are now busy with final equipment adjustments, now that they are finally in the environment which will be theirs for the coming days and months. Conditions in Wales, a village on the shores of the Strait itself, are much different than the relatively milder conditions here in Nome. A predominant heavy wind and colder temperatures permeate the region around the Strait.
Due to the exceptional weather forecasts provided by Michel De Meyer and his team at the Belgian KMI (Royal Meteorological Institute), we see a very possible start on Monday or Tuesday of this week.
One disturbing sight from last night's flight: a substantial lead off the coast of Wales. However due to low visibility, Dixie and Troy need to get out there today and check it out from close by.
Julie Brown / Nome, Alaska

Thursday March 10th
After leaving Belgium on 2nd March 2005 , Dixie Dansercoer, his wife Julie Brown and the other members of the team, as well as a number of family members, arrived in Anchorage on Friday 4th March - a snowstorm having seriously delayed their flight. The following day, they watched the finish of the famous Iditarod Dog Sled Race, while the friends who had been travelling with them until now started to make their way back to Belgium . Anchorage -> Nome , 7th March. Dixie and Troy spent the day checking all of the equipment for the expedition, while Julie converted an apartment in the city centre into a base camp and broadcasting centre. Welcome to Nome ! 8th March, Dixie and Troy were invited by the principal of the Nome Elementary School to give the youngest pupils a talk about their adventure.

From their website :

Crowded House
Not a corner of our Nome apartment is uncluttered.
Two expeditioners, one journalist, one cameraman, one photographer, a webmaster and a little girl try to gracefully function in our tight quarters. Cables and plugs criss-cross the floor, stuffed toys creep into camera bags, scribbled note papers decorate the counters, and somehow we all manage. The patience of these kind men with Robin enables her to feel at ease, and until now she has miraculously decided to leave everyone's stuff alone. Whew!

Dixie and Troy are literally chomping at the bit. They spent all day yesterday packing and sealing their special meals, a task which was anything but simple. The job is now done and it is time for them to load up and get going.
The expedition schedule looks like this: tomorrow the team (minus Julie and Robin) will leave for Wales , the point of departure for Dixie and Troy . The guys will use the weekend in Wales to re-pack the expedition material from the myriad of cargo boxes and load it meticulously into their sleds.
Our hope: first steps on the ice on Monday morning.

Weather permitting, our Nome home is about to become very spacious. Our goal is to fill it with giggles until Papa Dixie returns. Julie Brown, Nome , Alaska