Friday, April 16, 2010

Resolute People

I wish I met and interacted more with Inuit or local people of Resolute. Unfortunately I was there in the deep winter and that means everyone was hibernating in their homes. The hotel was empty, and the very few guests came and went quickly as they were passing through for one night. So this post was not about them because I do not have much to tell. The people I wanted to talk about are those on the expeditions to the North Pole this year.

I was very fortunate to have met/seen majority of those who set out for North Pole quests this year. A lot of them are big names in polar world too. Being explorers, they are very determined. Even those who did not have extensive polar experience were not less strong willed. This year, the ice along Cape Discovery and Ward Hunt looked thin, according to satellite image. That did create some slight unnerving thought but all of them took it as a challenge.

These people, as I have been following them through their blogs and website give me such an inspirational and motivational effect. This year, probably due to the climate change, the ice condition was so bad, lots of wide open leads, pressure ridges and whiteouts. I experienced all these conditions in my trip to the North Pole but in over a week while theirs last 40-60 days. I cannot image how I would deal with these conditions in such a long time.

So far only one team has reached the pole. Richard Weber, the best guy out there for polar travel, the master with epic expeditions did it again, almost in record time with his team of 4. They, like every team on the ice this year, have gone through a lot. Wet clothes due to accidental fall in the water or leaking dry suit, frostbites, southward drifts, cold, storms, etc... He did it 7 times! Simply incredible.

Eric, Darcy and AJ are some superhuman too. Having spent time with them, I know how much resolute they are, especially Eric. He's such a great leader. He has the most experience in the team but yet he would listen to suggestion from his team members. They just crossed 89N, the last degree (same distance as my trip when I started mine). It's just out of this world what they have accomplished so far.

There are two people that I also met in Resolute are Michele Pontrandolfo and Christina Franco. They both decided to end their expeditions but they are not less strong willed. I talked to Christina more when I was there helping Eric's team. She's amazing woman. Very strong personality but yet very sweet. She taught us how to do blanket stitching. AJ and Darcy were not very skillful in sewing, so she was very patient teaching them and would repeat the lesson. Somehow I know these people will attempt the North Pole again in the future. They don't just quit without trying and giving their best.

This morning CNN ran an article about Tom Smitheringale rescue, who almost died in the Arctic water. I did not meet him in Resolute because he left for the ice the day we arrived there. Early in his solo expedition, he already got frostbite on his fingers, but kept on pushing until last week when he was so much in pain that he called his team to arrange an evacuation. But he later decided to keep going. I thought to myself, this guy is a fool. His will power is so strong that it would mask everything, including the worsen fingers that they could endanger his own life or he might have to cut them once he reaches the Pole. Only a fall in the icy water for 10 minutes (which most people would die already) and the suffer from hypothermia would deter him and forced him cease his expedition. Madly amazing.

Other teams such as Sarah McNair's (who I met) and Dan and Amelia (they left before I got to Resolute) are marching hard, racing against the clock, sometimes their own clock (Sarah's team adopted 27 hour day) to reach the Pole in time before Barneo camp close down or have to shell out a stash of money, an astronomical figure 100k, for a pick up from Canada.

Absolutely resolute.