All posts by Mark Pelle de Vries

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Ice force

when the alarm went off this morning we knew the sky was overcast because it was a lot darker in the tent then the night before. It wasn’t too bad when we stepped outside for our first session of two hours. Arctic skies, when overcast are quiet gloomy and it is hard to see the difference between surface and sky. Martin loved light like this for photos, he says only in the higher latitudes do you get skies like this. Todays course has to be more to the west because we are drifting mostly east. The idea is to get 78 degrees of western latitude before we are heading due south. Conditions are fabulous, our sleds glide and the pressure ridges are small.This is a day at the North Pole and we absolutely love it. After one of our breaks, we crossed a lead that was frozen. Halfway on the ice the shore started to shriek and move and it was pushing the lead under water. Martin who was filming us was the last one to cross a small bridge and follow our tracks and right before his eyes the whole thing caved in and the shore was moving towards us. Seconds later the shore had swallowed the lead and Martin had to move quickly to get out of the way. Eric and I watched this in amazement while the ice was moaning. “This is why I come to the Arctic” says Eric ” the force of ice, humble us.

First day on ice

First day on the ice

If there is ever a good day in the arctic today is it. A serene morning with the classic polar light, mystic and magical.We got to sleep at 3 am so we didn’t really want to race out of the tent first thing in the morning. A mellow breakfast, a cup of coffee and then realizing we don’t have it all together. Things you want to wear are still in the sled overnight and now cold, lunch need to be sorted but today we can forgive our mistakes, tomorrow we need to concentrate and be organized. The moment we pull the harnesses on of our sleds we knew the moment of no return has arrived; we are going and the weight of our sleds is ours until we reach Canada. We settle immediately into a routine of a couple of hours skiing and then a quick break, skiing and then another break until the evening makes us weary and tired. We are happy with our first day out although we are cursing the weight of the sleds but all you have to do is peak from underneath your parka and ruff and realize how fortunately we are to be here at the North Pole. The Arctic is spectacular.

Advent Fjord

Barneo in good shape

We just received news that the plans for putting Barneo ice camp into place are on schedule. The Canadian Ice Survey has stated that it looks promising that the weather is holding and the ice is stable to land on April 2nd. That is good news for us since we are already a full month behind regular North Pole expeditions that are skiing from the Canadian Coast to the North Pole. Continue reading

Eric in a blizzard in Svalbard

Camera’s outside

You can practice all you want with the settings, focus and microphones of our camera’s in a warm house with a cup of coffee and warm fingers until you venture outside here in Svalbard. It is time for us to practice real conditions in the arctic and see if we can press buttons and adjust levels with our mittens, goggles and face masks on. We pack sleds, ski’s and gear, call a taxi and head out north to the end of the road where Svalbard’s wilderness begins. Continue reading

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In the classroom

While the wind was howling and snow falling we spent our time inside to learn the specs of one of our camera’s, testing our equipment. Mark Verkerk, film director and creative eye of our expedition was teaching us the basic things of filming. We travel with two camera’s, a D4 Nikon that Martin (our professional cameraman) carries and a smaller Sony NX-30 equipped with external microphones as a second camera. Continue reading

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Het Noorderlicht

Last night arriving in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen it was -15°C. We stepped outside in our spring clothing yet the wind was howling and it felt bitter cold. We looked at each other and were thinking how are we going to take this cold at the North Pole when it is only slightly freezing. I am not so worried about it since the temperatures were much colder in Canada this winter but Eric left Tasmania in 30°C and he says he need some days adjusting from his shorts and flip flops to his down jacket. Continue reading