Landed at Camp Barneo
We boarded the Russian plane for Barneo – the most bizarre flight of our lives. Think the plane was built in the 1960’s. Aircraft smelt of petrol and unwashed Russians. The landing at Barneo was hair-raising – the shortest runway in the world – all made of ice. Straight into the warm tent at Barneo where the Russians gave the guides the brief on current weather conditions, drifts of the ice and leads (Leads are the breaks in the ice).
Next we board a Russian helicopter to be air lifted to our start point. No heat on board and currently -36 – and that’s inside the helicopter! No seats on the helicopter – we sat on our ski’s and sledges. Helicopter landed in a desert of ice – and we get everything off the chopper – basically we were shoved out the door. We were instructed to lay across our sledges as the chopper took off due to the downdraft – otherwise, we’d lose the sledges. The chopper blades started to spin – quite scary – nothing like we have every experienced before in our lives. The chopper left – we are alone. This is the strangest feeling we have ever felt – totally on our own now – in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
First day, we walked 7 miles. A tough day, coming across many leads and rough ice. Bedding down for the first night was a challenge – this is the first time that we have ever set up the tents, cooked and made the throne. We cook in one tent due to the cold. As soon as the cooker is turned off, the condensation it causes freezes everything. All our kit is frozen – including our sleeping bags. Oh well, we’ll just have to cuddle up!
Day two – very rough going today. Just did 5 miles – this is so tough. Walked for 8 hours – only managed 5 miles. Pulling sledges through massive ice blocks. Shovelling along on ski’s, hit ice and the sledge hits you in the back of the neck. Had to take the skis off and man handled the sledges through 10ft blocks of ice. A lead opened up as we were crossing so we really had to get a shift on when crossing. Good God, we can move fast when we need to!
We’ve just had dinner and are bedding down for the night now. Team are tired - but all in good spirits. Love to all – speak to you soon.