trouble zone

We have entered the dramatic zone that the Canadian Arctic Survey calls “trouble”.
Did only 2 km today through wicked yet spectacular ice fields and frozen leads that will last 10 km. We are camped in the middle of it now and spend the rest of the day filming pulling sleds in the pressure ridges. The sky cleared, wind stopped and the sun poked through.We climbed on top of an iceberg and saw for the first time the incredible anarchy of ice blocks all around us. The horizon is filled with blue ice and black reflections of leads. Incredible to see, scary to have to go through.


Rubble field seen from space

We were warned by Trudy from the Canadian Ice Service about a 10km band of rubble and pressure seen by satellite. We are in the thick of it now. At least it seems we managed to avoid some big leads.

Only 2km for an afternoon’s work, the morning spent on the phone to the outside world, and filming interviews.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Pic of the indomitable Martin Hartley during yesterday’s blizzard, camera at the ready, indelible smile.



The sustainability concept of Hans Carl Carlowitz (1645-1714)

In the last years you might have heard more often of the term ‘sustainability’ or politics asked for ‘sustainable development’ in the world. The ‘inventor’ of the sustainability term for forestry was Hans Carl von Carlowitz and it was extended for more natural resources in the 19th century.
The three important pillars of sustainability are the planet, the people and prosperity, also: environmental, social and economic issues. The word’s definition has its origin from Carlowitz’s book from 1713, ‘Sylvicultura oeconomica, or haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht’. The last half of the title can be loosely translated as ‘or the economic news and instructions for the natural growing of wild trees’. A wider definition can be found inside the book:
‘Therefore it will be the greatest art/science/diligence and establishment on this land / to achieve such a conservation and cultivation of wood / that there will be a continuously resistant and sustainable use of it / because it is an indispensable thing / without which the country does not want to stay in its existence.’
The term and book were born in a time of crisis because wood wasn’t used with thinking about future generations or even upcoming years. The extensions and our current definition of the term ‘sustainability’ are also a result of times of stress – scientists and other people realize that we can’t keep up with our current use of resources if we want to pass our environment on to future generations.


more of the same

Today was a real mood buster. Again a day with the same. Dim, gloomy and zero visibility. We also got into areas of pressure ridges again, ice blocks now covered with snow for the extra challenge. Between the ice blocks is slushy half frozen water of a brilliant blue colour and easily mistaken for sturdy ice until you step on it. Since the 84th latitude the pressure ridges have increased in size and in frequency. The flat pans are getting smaller and that is where you usually can speed up to get some distance. But not today. The predominant Southwest winds have formed frozen sand dunes perpendicular to our ski direction which means you have to negotiate many bumps in flat light. Good news about today is we didn’t have to swim or raft a lead in this nasty weather that doesn’t know when to stop. We all feel frustrated. We make no progress, the mixture of pressure ridges and the many leads in flat light makes not only challenging but dangerous. The Arctic is a grim place when it is like this and offer no solace for the mind or soul. It loses all its attractiveness and turns hostile if you let it get to you. No wonder early explorers suffered from bouts of depression when they had to deal with conditions like these. I wonder if a doses of prozac will make it better out here if you need to get rid of the polar blues for a day.

Then in the midst of a pressure ridge you find an amazing piece of multiyear ice, with different bands of colour, algae and icicles. This piece is at least a few years old and hopefully will survive this summer melt. The block of ice reminds me of a humpback whale when it emerges from the water, and you see the baleen hanging of it. That was all I needed today, a reminder how precious The Arctic really is.



Ditto, all of the above, etcetera, Groundhog Day….. Ho hum, today was just like the previous week – blizzarding, poor visibility, pressure ice, soft leads. Ho hum! 6km today. Ho hum!

With this run of bad luck since resupply I am beginning to ponder the future of this expedition.

Pic negotiating a lead full of barely-frozen rubble. These are often treacherous as each weighted block is a time bomb waiting to dislodge and disappear into the drink, followed by a boot and perhaps the hapless soul attached to it.



Blizz kids

The blizzard has been unrelenting. It blew all night but the morning was full of promise with a hopeful sun peeking through the cloud. But an hour after kick-off a black ball swept across from the SW and before long we were in a snow dome. All visibility had gone, again. I am so accustomed to skiing blind that any kind of resolution on the horizon seems like such a luxury. Wind forecast to continue tomorrow but easing Sunday. Hallelujah!

A good surface mostly and we claimed 10km from the ocean, but camped next to a lead that we were too exhausted to find a way across.

Pic of my sled – Josephine – with Bernice and Martin approaching.



The Sessile Oak: Tree of the Year 2014

The last week you learned about the Arbor Day and that this year’s celebrated tree will be officially acknowledged on the 25th of April. By the choice of the tree of the year either the rarity of a species or the risks posed by new forest damage and tree diseases shall be highlighted.
This year we are celebrating the sessile oak. It is a type of beech plants and can turn up to 800 years old and up to 40 meters high. In German forests only 10% of all trees are oaks. There are two different types: the sessile oak and the English oak. The sessile oak is also called Cornish oak or durmast oak. Its flowering time is between April and May and the fruits are acorns which turn ripe between September and October.

by Plant for the Planet