According to NL Café, Veronika Wynne-Hughes prepares for her expedition to Antarctica in November by exploring the Northwest Passage. The explorer has departed more than a week ago, but it is not only the elements that she must overcome.
Veronika Wynne-Hughes usually travels around the world by ship, but this year, she wants to be the first Hungarian who conquers the South Pole. The preparation is in progress already, and the conquest of the Northwest Passage is part of it. Veronika departed for the three weeks’ trip on 28th April with her two Norwegian companions: this journey means a 400-kilometer distance on the terrestrial and marine ice field between Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven.
The explorers wear skis and pull their equipment on sleighs. Anyone can follow their progress on the website of the expedition (Antarctrip.com), as Veronika’s satellite cellphone constantly marks the team’s spot.
The company began their journey last week along with a fourth member, an Inuk dog named Bodri, who spots the polar bears roaming around. Thought – according to the locals – the beast sighted three polar bears’ approach on last year’s expedition, Veronika’s group haven’t experienced the dog’s alertness. Moreover, it was revealed that he rather hides in emergency, and when it is clear again, he runs happily around the team, thus making their progress difficult. The situation is neither better at night, because Bodri likes to sleep quite deeply, and the team got frightened one morning when they had to call for him for ten minutes to make him come. They got really tired, as their sleep was everything but restful.
There was no reason to complain about the weather, the three explorers traveled under a clear, sunny sky: they even got sunburn despite the sun cream of 50 factors. After the less relaxing nights, they eat butter during the day to supply themselves with calories.
They have been on their way for six days when something happened that Veronika had already feared before the departure: they noticed two polar bears following them. Moreover, the giant animals are currently in the mating season, so they tend to be more aggressive. The group has bear repellent spray and a gun in case of danger, but they intend to use them only in emergency.
Bodri has proved to be a “useless beast”, because he hasn’t indicated bears earlier, moreover, he seems to fear them. The group tried make as loud noise as they could and tried to show themselves bigger by waving their tents, but it was of no use. After some negotiation with the local authorities on the phone, they got permission to fire warning shots, but it scared away only one of the bears, the other one just showed even greater interest. As it did not come closer than 40 meters, they decided to continue the journey with loaded guns. The local hosts offered to rescue them by helicopter, but the explorers denied it for the time being.
As the beast kept on following them, they had no choice but to keep on marching during the night towards the safe house 30 kilometers away. By the time they arrived, they have been walking 23 hours without stopping. They found the safe house locked, but at least they got rid of the bear.
After Saturday morning, it seems that they escaped trouble, but now they have a new challenge awaiting them: they have to progress by sea through the poolside ice, which means further dangers, as the piled-up ice floes can create obstacles as big as a man, and they have to steer among them. Moreover, they do not have the best sight conditions, as another bear might arrive from behind one of these pillars.
The group tries to manage their energy, they progressed with eight times one-hour marches, and their last camp was built upon the ice field covering the open sea. Fortunately, they experienced, after waking up, that they had no nighttime visitors. Veronika even managed to call her mother on her satellite phone to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.
The group continues their journey, they are progressing well, but according to the last forecast, a heavy storm approaches them. We wish strength and calm days for the explorers!
You can follow Veronika Wynne-Hughes’ expedition on www.antarctrip.com.
Source: NLCafe.com, Photo: Antarctrip.com