(By Correne Coetzer) In the 2007-08 Antarctic season Bernice Notenboom became the first Dutch woman to ski to the South Pole. She did the Route from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf with Australian guide, Eric Philips. This Arctic season she is again going with Eric, this time to ski and sledge-haul from the North Pole to Canada. Accomplished Polar photographer, Martin Hartley is the third member of the team.
“The goal of the expedition is a feature film about the Arctic history from 1850 until now and what the future of the Arctic might be,” says Bernice. ExWeb checked in with Bernice in Canada, where she resides.
What attract you about the Arctic?
Bernice: The serenity, stillness, the beauty of white, the force of ice, how it calms you mind, makes you focus, forget the clutter in your head, never mind deadlines and lists. Yet you curse the cold, hate the wind, being miserable but when it is over you can't wait to go back. I compare it to a big meditation retreat, it is a great place to be with yourself, realize your own vulnerability in a place you can't survive for one second if stripped from all comforts. To deal with this challenging environment is what is exciting.
It is also the place where we really can see the changes in our climate the fastest. In 2007, while on assignment for National Geographic Traveler, on a North Pole expedition, I spend time with scientists at 88°N, who were freaked out about the lack of sea ice and how we were moving to a tipping point in our climate.
Through interviews, and research I start to understand Arctic science better and since then I have made it my professional life. It is fascinating to understand all the different characteristics of the Arctic, what cloud cover, windspeed and loss of albedo will do to sea ice and how that eventually has an impact on the world's climate.
You have skied to the SP with Eric. Three top tips from him about Polar travel.
Bernice: I don't know what Eric would say but I guess: be prepared and organized, stay humble and nimble, maintain a sense of humor and take things as they come.
What preparations have you been doing for this trip?
Bernice: We spend a lot of time researching the best equipment to bring, from ski's to sleeping bags to tents. More time is going into putting together a proper film kit. Solar panels are not an option in the Arctic so we have to do everything with batteries and that maybe a challenge with two film cameras, sat phones, iPhones, GPS, Yellowbrick, etc.
Training is lifting weights and ski touring and cross country skiing. It is important to spend time outside and be on skis in the elements. Luckily where I live, I can step outside and be in the snow.
Why have you decided to do NP to land and not land to NP?
Bernice: There are multiple reasons for it. We have all been at the North Pole already so that is not a drive for us. In recent years it has been hard to get started from Ward Hunt Island. The combination of fog and bad ice conditions make it challenging for the airplane to land and start that route. Plus there is the pressure to finish no later than April 22, the deadline for a pickup at the North Pole.
Going the other way, we will have mostly the wind in our back, more positive than negative drift and since we skiing to land, the hardest push on the pressure ridges and broken ice will be at the end when the sleds are lighter and we are stronger, rather then in the beginning.
The downside of it is that we can only start on April 2nd a full month later than the other groups going to the North Pole.
Bernice Notenboom does extreme expeditions to show what climate change is doing to humans, animals and our planet. She lectures about her experiences and write books, articles for newspapers and magazines, and make television series and documentary films. Bernice climbed Everest in 2009, among other expeditions.
The expedition will take place from the Geographic North Pole to Cape Discovery, Canada, starting April 2nd (weather permitting), when Barneo Ice Camp opens to take them by Russian helicopter to their start at 90 degrees North. They expect to make landfall on May 24th. Distance 870 km in a straight line. They will be resupplied.
Read more about the three team members here.
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Expedition website: arcticmarch.com
Expedition promo video http://vimeo.com/64539465
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