Arctic Circle On A Map

Grise Lightning

Resolute Bay has a total population of approximately 200 people, of which 80 per cent are Inuit. The first Inuit families only arrived here in 1953 and there is still some controversy as to whether they were moved here to reside because game was plentiful or to establish Canadian sovereignty. What is incontrovertible is that the Inuit themselves were not consulted in the decision making and were moved from place to place without any consideration for their own wishes.

The Inuit name for the bay is Qausuittuq which means either ‘Never a day passes’, or ‘The place with no dawn’. It’s the bleakest of places and many wryly comment that the real spelling of Resolute is Desolate. The airport is hardly more than a shack and the place seems like a frontier post of the old Wild West times. There are also plenty of odd characters buzzing around, mostly bearded, and clothed in all kinds of strange garb. Some in ski-gear. My much-travelled and well-worn Russian hat looks very much in place.

Arctic Circle On A Map Photo Gallery

We meet up with Mike McDowell, an Arctic guide sent to assist us. From him we learn that the weather conditions at Grise Fiord, our next Arctic stop, are so bad that Andy Goldsworthy has been snowed in there for five days and has been unable to fly on to Camp Hazen and from there to the North Pole. This has put his plans to sculpt at the North Pole on ice, so to speak, and may mean he will not get there at all. That would be a catastrophe for all of us. The only chance is for Andy to fly back to Resolute where we are and then take our plane to Camp Hazen, from there he can make the flight to the Pole. We would then use Andy’s incoming plane, the only one available, to journey on to Grise Fiord. If that all goes according to plan, although out here things rarely do, we must be prepared to respond rapidly to any changes in the very unsettled weather conditions and be ready to move like greased lightning.

It’s going to be very much a case of touch and go and we are learning fast how precarious the flying arrangements are in this part of the world and how dependent we all are on the weather. There are continual and intensive radio communications going on between the two Inuit towns, trying to establish when and if flights can take-off and land. If Andy doesn’t make it to the North Pole then we wouldn’t either. To come all this way and not get there would be pretty disastrous for us, but even more so for Andy who has spent a month in this region preparing for his ultimate goal. We can only hope Andy will make it and so will we.

Bezal Jesudason turns up. He is originally from Goa and runs the local equipment store, Ranulph Fiennes had told me to look out for him and to pass on his regards. He told me Bezal would be a great help to our expedition and so it turns out. His store is called High Arctic International Explorer Services Ltd and has everything you could possibly need. I feel like saying, ‘We’ll take the lot’, but of course Bezal knows just what we will need on our journey further north and hopefully, eventually to the North Pole itself. We must assume we will somehow make it and prepare accordingly.

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