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Monday, June 15

Polarrev Glacial Geomorphology

YE Diaries by Herpreet Bhamra (29 May - 08 June 2009)

After an action packed adventure week with Richard Polarrev Fire were ready to rest their weary blistered feet and hang up their plastic mountain boots for good (or at least 10 days). The previous science group lost no time in reassuring us that we were in for 10 days of R&R and we slept peacefully that night dreaming of days filled with sunbathing on the glacier and afternoon naps at 4. After 9 weeks in the arctic I should have learned that nothing goes exactly to plan. Nature had other ideas. Pit digging days with Pat consisted of an exhausting 2 ½ hour trek up the Blackbreen glacier and taking shifts digging pits in the snowpack until we reached the glacial ice. The pits were all over 2m deep and we had to construct steps in the hole to escape into the glorious sunshine. GPS-ing (daleking) days with Lucy B comprised of being roped to 4 others and zig-zagging up the glacier. Being attached to Sarah and James for 8 continuous hours is an experience that I do not care to relive again soon! My back lives in constant fear of seeing another day of measuring the snow depth of 417s point up the glacier with the avalanche probe.

The river which we are camped next to was slowly saturating with water and surged one night so we spent one day in the river, in those oh so flattering fluorescent orange waders mapping the river down the valley and measuring the flow.

Mark modelling the waders Photo L. Bruzzone

Due to the rapid rate of melting, our camp slowly began resembling a very boggy minefield and trips to the well and toilet became like circus acts with us nimbly jumping from one island of compressed snow to another. But we were well rewarded for our hard work. One sunny afternoon was dedicated to a session of arctic yoga in which we learnt that 10 weeks of expeditioning, pulking huge distances, clinging to ice walls with nothing but crampons and prayers, does absolutely nothing whatsoever to improve your balance or flexibility. On the 3rd June we celebrated Emily’s birthday in style. The entire Fire was invited to her ‘Arctic Birthday party ‘ and we spent the morning outside sunbathing in our -25º sleeping bags. For the afternoon we went survival bagging down an almost vertical slope and in the evening we all enjoyed a spoonful or two of birthday cake (gingernut base, crème choc chip desert layer and jelly topped with sprinkles) contrived by the culinary geniuses Mark and Joe in their tent. A memorable birthday we hoped.

Emily with her ‘birthday cake’

On our last day we summitted Ottofjellet which provided us with stunning view of the sea and surrounding mountains. We watched the boys ski gracefully down from the top without skins, they in turn then impatiently watched the girls slowly sidestep gingerly down, all Pat’s skiing lessons forgotten. A fitting final week for the expedition.

Herpreet, Emily and Sarah on Ottofjellet Photo S. Phillips

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