By the Catlin Arctic Survey Explorer Team
To call the last 14 days eventful for the Catlin Arctic Survey Explorer Team would be the grossest sort of understatement. Two weeks of both the weird and wonderful culminated in a rude awakening on Thursday morning when the ice pan on which they were camped started to break up.
Charlie Paton describes the situation in more detail. “We heard a crack, a few bangs and then suddenly the ice started to break apart. It all happened very quickly and was unlike anything I’ve experienced before.”
Ann Daniels continues. “It happened during breakfast, so the tent was full of equipment and our sledges were outside. We had to decide quickly which side of the crack we were going to try and stay on and swiftly rescue all of the kit to ensure no lasting damage was sustained. Luckily nothing was broken in the incident, although the explorers were left a little shaken.”
The experience was yet another example of the chaotic ice conditions the team has faced since the start of the expedition. Earlier in the week the team captured some incredible footage of just how much the ice has been shifting around along their journey.
In addition to fast moving ice the team have been confronted with large amounts of open water as well as dangerously thin ice floes. At one point the rapidly changing conditions left the team precariously surrounded on all sides by ice too thin to cross. Their only option was to sit and wait for the conditions to change.
Despite the constant perils the explorers have remained upbeat following their first resupply of the mission. Their first contact with the outside world for almost a month allowed them a well needed chance to stock up on food as well as return the vital water samples they have been painstakingly collecting. Moods were further buoyed by having crossed 86° North last week despite continuing negative drift. However, as Martin explained, sometimes you just have to lie back and go with the floe.