Map Arctic

The luggage is loaded on to a trailer attached to a snow tractor and it trundles off at a leisurely pace to the actual camp. We set off in pursuit. It’s about 10 p.m. The only way to ever know the time is to look at a watch as the day never changes. That’s why it’s always so important to change your watch as you hit another time zone, otherwise you’d become totally confused. Camp Hazen isn’t a luxury hotel or even a simple hostel. It’s a small, corrugated iron hut with just two dormitories, one communal eating area and a bedroom for employees of Ken Borek Air. That’s their given luxury I guess. Still, in the middle of this immense desolation what else could be expected and to me now it seems such a very inviting sanctuary against the elements. Here have stayed many of the polar explorers on their way out or back with their expeditions.

Map Arctic Photo Gallery

Harry Hansen is one of the first to congratulate us and he will be flying us out and back to Grise Fiord the next day, weather permitting of course. Henry Perke has done us proud and I tell Harry briefly what has occurred. He is genuinely pleased at the outcome. Perhaps I have misjudged him. I should just put it down to the Arctic. It’s a place that can play havoc with a person’s mind. The act of imagining things to be different in the Arctic to how they really are is called looming. It’s possible for distances to be considerably foreshortened and even huskies to be mistaken for huge monsters. Being out here for too long can certainly play tricks on the explorer’s mind.

I guess I should mention, as I know it’s one of the first things people ask, who have never been cut off from so-called civilised society, something about the lavatory arrangements, female and male. Well there’s no difference in treatment between the sexes, either in the Arctic or indeed in the Antarctic. There are no plumbing facilities at Camp Hazen and the ablutions inside the lavatory cabins are performed with pans and buckets. You have to choose your moment and dash in and hope that the person before you was reasonably tidy and actually cleaned up to some degree. However, we are all so high from our successful adventure that I don’t think it would have mattered if there had not been any privacy and we’d had to use open facilities. I choose a bunk, one of the top ones and it’s so warm that I take off most of my clothes, down to my long johns. Everyone more or less does the same, but Penny is more modest. I rest on my bunk whilst the dinner is prepared. It’s pleasant and relaxing to listen to the kitchen sounds and to smell the food cooking.

Wait a moment, I’m not here to be waited on and I quickly get up to offer my assistance. Mostly I seem to get in the way but my offer is appreciated and I lay out the plates and cutlery, such as they are. The cook tonight at the Camp is Pam Flowers, the explorer referred to in Robert Swan’s diaries, she is a very interesting person. Pam is now working and cooking at the camp to earn some money to pay for her fare home. She’s Canadian and had tried to walk to the North Pole, using only four huskies to pull her sledge loaded with her initial supplies. The plan was that she would receive further supplies by some five to seven air drops, depending on her progress. Pam actually walked alone for 130 miles but the trek was taking longer than she had anticipated and eventually she ran out of money and couldn’t afford to pay for any more air drops so unfortunately had to give up. This time!

Her dream is of course to try again as soon as she has raised more funds. Pam looks like an ordinary woman but inside obviously beats the heart of an extraordinary adventurer. She is under five foot, weighing less than 50 kg, bespectacled and her normal job is working as a therapist in an Alaskan hospital. She will try again as soon as she can raise 50,000 dollars she estimates is needed to sponsor her for a total of 60 days. The huskies have to be fed three or four times a day; she can cut back on food but they can’t.

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