August 11, 2022

Shards of aquamarine ice pierced the ominous gray panorama as we trundled alongside in our large truck, with sturdy gusts of snow-peppered wind battering us as we went.

I’ve to confess that I wasn’t terribly trying ahead to the prospect of pitching a tent amid this apocalyptic panorama.

We had been making our manner in the direction of the snowfields of Europe’s largest glacier (by quantity), which is situated on the east coast of Iceland, as a part of a week-long coaching train in preparation for an upcoming North Pole expedition centred round local weather change.

Sadie stated there wasn’t a lot the group may do whereas sat within the tents, apart from speak and eat 

Sadie (far right) pictured in her tent during the storm with expedition leader MBE Felicity Aston (far left) and fellow teammate Emma Ranger

Sadie (far proper) pictured in her tent throughout the storm with expedition chief MBE Felicity Aston (far left) and fellow teammate Emma Ranger

Sadie and her teammates were stuck in a storm for three nights on Europe's largest glacier

Sadie and her teammates had been caught in a storm for 3 nights on Europe’s largest glacier 

Vatnajokull, the glacier in query, covers a powerful 7,900 sq. kilometres (3,050 sq. miles), has starred in two James Bond movies – A View to a Kill and Die One other Day – and is thought for its unforgiving climate, particularly throughout the winter months.

We ventured to the frozen wasteland on the finish of October in 2021 and on attending to its icy fringes in particular monster truck-like autos we witnessed its unforgiving magnificence.

‘It appears to be like like we’re on one other planet,’ one in all our group members stated whereas rolling down the window and swiftly doing it up once more in a bid to keep away from the biting chilly.

The Vatnajokull glacier is known for its unforgiving weather during the winter months

The Vatnajokull glacier is thought for its unforgiving climate throughout the winter months

To get to the glacier, Sadie and her team travelled in special trucks that could navigate the frozen landscape

To get to the glacier, Sadie and her group travelled in particular vans that might navigate the frozen panorama 

Calm before the storm: A shot of the expedition tents on the glacier just before the storm hit

Calm earlier than the storm: A shot of the expedition tents on the glacier simply earlier than the storm hit 

The camping teams used expedition stoves to heat snow for water and to keep warm

The tenting groups used expedition stoves to warmth snow for water and to maintain heat

There are six of us collaborating within the all-female North Pole expedition, which was put collectively by MBE Felicity Aston throughout the pandemic and is because of get underway this April.

Our objective is to conduct essential analysis round Arctic sea ice to grasp extra about its deterioration as a result of local weather change.

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As British-born Felicity now lives in Iceland, on a distant island known as Vigur, and is aware of the lay of the land, we determined to do our coaching there.

Earlier than leaving for the glacier, we had frolicked in Reykjavik getting ready our sledges with the mandatory gear, which included tents, sleeping baggage, freeze-dried meals, candy treats, some spare clothes and shovels to dig snow and bathroom pits.

We additionally employed skis and made positive our ski boots fitted as our expedition includes cross-country snowboarding, which Felicity describes as being one thing anybody can do and ‘similar to skating throughout a refined flooring in socks’.

After a few hours of driving, the vans stopped on a very snowy swathe of land and dropped us off. That is the place we’d begin our coaching and pitch our tents for the evening.

The team had to venture out every two hours to get rid of excess snow from the tents

The group needed to enterprise out each two hours to do away with extra snow from the tents 

The tents were secured in place with skis and ski poles, which makes it easier to dismantle in the snow

The tents had been secured in place with skis and ski poles, which makes it simpler to dismantle within the snow

Vatnajokull covers an impressive 7,900 square kilometres (3,050 square miles)

Vatnajokull covers a powerful 7,900 sq. kilometres (3,050 sq. miles)

One of the team members digs out their sledge from the snow

Felicity Aston enjoys a spot of sunshine amid the snowy landscape

One of many group members digs out their sledge from the snow (left), whereas Felicity Aston enjoys a spot of sunshine amid the snowy panorama (proper) 

Fortunately, after we received out of the vans the solar was out and the wind had died down. It was truly fairly nice.

The six of us went about pitching our two tents after a follow run in a parking lot earlier that morning. The tents went up pretty easily and we mounted them into the snow utilizing our skis and ski poles.

After we bid the truck drivers goodbye together with some movie crew who had been following us and our lead scientist, Dr Ulyana Horodyskyj, we settled into our tents to rustle up some boil-in-the-bag chili con carne and nestle into our sleeping baggage.

The all-female team conducted scientific studies while on the ice in preparation for their main expedition

The all-female group carried out scientific research whereas on the ice in preparation for his or her essential expedition

The storm meant that the visibility was very poor on the glacier and it was only possible to see a few metres

The storm meant that the visibility was very poor on the glacier and it was solely potential to see just a few metres

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the scenario quickly began to vary. The winds whipped as much as a deafening pitch and battered the tent from each angle.

I unzipped the tent’s entrance door to have a peek exterior and we noticed that the snow was rapidly gathering. If we didn’t act pronto we’d be buried alive.

Felicity braced the winds from her tent to come back and inform us that we should always do two-hour shifts to maintain the snow at bay, so we equipped for a protracted evening forward.

A shot of Dr Ulyana Horodyskyj, the lead scientist on the B.I.G North Pole expedition

A shot of Dr Ulyana Horodyskyj, the lead scientist on the B.I.G North Pole expedition 

The views out of the tent after the storm had stopped, with clear skies and sunshine

The views out of the tent after the storm had stopped, with clear skies and sunshine

After the winds stopped, the team could finally get on their way and practice some cross country skiing

After the winds stopped, the group may lastly get on their manner and follow some cross nation snowboarding 

Someway, regardless of the fixed battering and snow duties, I managed to get some sleep with the hope of some calm the following day. However the calm by no means got here. The 80mph winds continued to roll with a haze of snow making it inconceivable to see additional than just a few metres.

The tents had been nicely and actually mounted into place, submerged by a thick wodge of white powder. Being caught in a tent in -20C temperatures doesn’t go away you with an terrible lot to do.

The mornings consisted of waking up and utilizing a squeegee to chip the ice from the within of the tent earlier than it began to soften.

Then we fired up two expedition stoves to assist dry issues out and soften some snow for warm water. A cup of tea undoubtedly helped issues.

Being tent bound for three days, Sadie said, was definitely a bonding experience with tears and laughter along the way

Being tent certain for 3 days, Sadie stated, was undoubtedly a bonding expertise with tears and laughter alongside the best way

After a cuppa and bowl of porridge, we bundled up in some hotter layers and goggles and ventured exterior to attempt to do away with extra snow.

On the bathroom entrance, as a result of it was so windy and snowy it was inconceivable to get to the pit we’d beforehand dug. I virtually blew away after I tried.

This meant we resorted to digging a pit within the porch of our tent and utilizing that for our ablutions.

Through the day, we talked about life – we’d solely met on Zoom up till coaching – checked in with the opposite tent, tried to get climate updates and gorged on our snack baggage, which featured chunks of marzipan, popcorn, boiled sweets and chocolate raisins.

Then at meal time, the spotlight could be seeing what meals we had for the night. Derbyshire-based Basecamp Meals is one in all our expedition sponsors and it serves up a surprisingly scrumptious unfold of tenting meals with high-calorie counts to energy us on our manner.

Sleeping by way of the evening was slightly tough with the tent manically flapping round and an icy chilly wafting round our heads, however having strong down feather sleeping baggage from Rab undoubtedly helped make issues slightly extra comfy.

After three nights it was fairly an unbelievable second after we awoke… to the sound of silence. It was like we’d been listening to loss of life metallic on repeat for days and my ears had been nonetheless ringing.

I opened a flap close to the cooking station and revelled within the sight of a transparent blue sky and sunshine.

Earlier than we set off to lastly do what we’d gone to Vatnajokull to do – ski – we had the slight matter of taking down the tents to cope with.

It took greater than two hours to dig the tents out with all of us pitching in to do rounds of shovelling. Ultimately, we received on our manner and set off in the direction of the mountainous horizon with our sledges in tow.

Being tent-bound for 3 days was undoubtedly a bonding expertise with tears and laughter alongside the best way.

Felicity, who has greater than 20 years of expertise exploring polar landscapes, stated following our ordeal: ‘I’m actually pleased with you guys. Many of the locals anticipated us to radio in for assist to evacuate however we caught it out. I promise it gained’t be this windy on the North Pole.’

Fingers crossed!

For extra info on Sadie’s B.I.G North Pole expedition and to trace the group’s progress go to: www.bignorthpole.com.

TRAVEL FACTS 

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