Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Patti's Story Part 6 ©

Over Melting Ice     

My reading menu for the 1980's and 90's had been pretty much exclusively composed of Old Arctic Manuals. It was a consistent diet of Arctic and Antarctic Exploration going as far back as the Franklin Expedition in search of the Northwest Passage and as recent Sir Ranulph Fiennes Transglobe Expedition and finally The Steger North Pole Expedition. Most of the earlier books had rather tragic endings with descriptions of dangerous or deadly conditions. I never felt in danger at any time with one exception... which I will describe in a later Part yet without number. It involved a lone bull Muskoxen during our 300 mile packing trip. Steger North Pole Expedition was the official name of the expedition. The name was morphed around by others. I was still involved in those first North Pole organizing years after this 1982/83 expedition. National Geographic Society was onboard early before any team members were selected. Thanks is due to famous National Geographic Photographer Jim Brandenburg for making this connection. He even lent Will a good suit for our first meeting in Washington D.C.  Then NGS Expedition Editor Bill Graves arranged for and sponsored our travel with the purpose of interviewing prospective Steger North Pole Expedition team members. Bill told me one day that the reason they were sponsoring Will's North Pole ambition was because they believed he had what it took to make it, he had that rare quality, a kind of laser focus. They were precisely correct!

It was shortly after that time that I ended my participation. From that point I consulted with Will on gear when asked and sewed some of his personal items. I did not make mukluks for The North Pole. My sponsorship of Steger Expeditions began with the 1,600-mile south-north traverse of Greenland. It was the longest unsupported dogsled expedition in history at that time in 1988, a training expedition for The International TransAntarctica Expedition and for all of his subsequent expeditions. 
Small lead to cross

You can see from the first photo that the Fjords were beginning to form leads. This happens at major melt points on either side of the fjords where water is flowing at a rapid rate and the ice is no longer attached to the land. The melt freezes and melts and freezes creating the fracture that eventually looks like the photo you see here. That is the simplest explanation. Here we have run into our first Lead. You can see it's easy to negotiate this one. Run and jump! There are no dramatic stories to tell at this point. The travel is fast and the conditions are alternately rough/icy and wet. The temps are above freezing most of the time. The salty ocean water freezes at 28.8ºF / -1.8°C instead of 32ºF / 0°C.  We are traveling about 10 hours each day during nighttime in 24 hour daylight. As I wrote before, it is colder during the night hours and better for the dogs. We take turns skiing lead.

Water  Water

Fresh water! In the land of ocean ice and brackish water your source of fresh water is a short climb to the top of an iceberg where delicious pools of crystal clear water await you! Best water in the world without exception! Being out, especially this far, is very peaceful. It's very moment to moment. There isn't much conversation. You simply keep going forward.

Regarding the date I posted regarding the origination of the Nunavut Territory, it was in 1999, not 1993. Thank you Caroline Dennill! Much appreciated. 
Camp #1


Patti Steger 
Steger Mukluks

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