4.00pm - 5th April, 2012
At the airport now waiting to board the Russian plane to Camp Barneo - 89degrees North. Slightly bemused by the stories we are hearing about this plane. Seeemingly, there are four windows in total - 2 for us and the huskies and 2 for the pilots! We hear that Health and Safety hasn't arrived with the Russians yet. It's not uncommon for the pilots to be puffing away on cigars and drinking shots of vodka during the flight! If we're lucky, we will have seat belts. Our guide tells us that the last time he took this flight, he sat on the cargo with huskies howling around him. But hey hoh - there's no turning back now. Our regular clothing, toiletries, phones and every modern accessory has now been taken from us and locked away. We've taped up our feet to prevent chaffing and blisters - hopefully the tape will stick - mind you, our feet won't see the light of day for 10 days, so it should be fine. Now you know the other reason for the Johnsons Baby Powder eh? Foot Rot is not for us! We now only have the Arctic clothing we stand in until we retrieve our sledges.
Many unspoken thoughts going thru our minds now -
Just how cold will it be?
Who's doing the cooking tonight?
Will Brian manage the build and design of the first "throne" and who will be the first to bear all to the wind and use it?
We know we will survive the elements, but will we survive Alex's snoring?
Will Paul really use those Wet Wipes? brrrr.......
Will Andrew continue to have that grin on his face regarding the news that he is going to be a grandad again to a grandson?
Will cool dude John finally realise what he has got himself into?
Just now fast can Nigel run when we spot the first Polar Bear?
Tonight will probably be the biggest challenge of our lives. Setting up our tents in temps of -40 with bitter winds around us. We all know the plan - we've just got to stick to it now. First tent up will be Andrew's and Paul's - then they start preparing the hot food. When their tent is up, we will concentrate on the others. Alex is in charge of cutting the blocks of ice for the cookers for the dried food (yum yum) and the hot drinks. The plan is to boil approximately 3 gallons of water per night - and yes, of course, Alex has bought the biggest saw he could get on the aircraft for the ice cutting. Brian will be busy building that throne - oh the very thought of it makes us shiver. John says that it's Imodem all the way for him!!! John and Nigel will be busy doing the final "digging in" of the tents - making them as wind proof as possible and securing them to the ice - tents blowing away is just not an option. Nigel is on Polar Bear watch too - 2 shotguns and a flare gun at the ready.
Our first check in call is due at 8.00pm tonight to the Russians - not that our Russian is very good! The rule is that we need to call them between 8pm and 10pm each night. If, for whatever reason we don't, we need to call between 8am and 10am the following morning. If we don't do that, they send out a helicopter to find us. And then charge us 150,000stg because we forgot to call! We'll be making those calls - don't want that bill!
So, good night all - we'll update you tomorrow about our first night's sleep.
The Six Ordinary Men doing Extraordinary Things -
Brian, Alex, Andrew, Paul, Nigel and John