BSES HQ receives expedition field updates weekly so check back every Monday to see what has happened in the week gone by.

Saturday, April 11

Ski Lessons

Overnight it was hot, well relatively, around zero and the wind and snow made visibility bad. Departures planned for 1000 were delayed in the hope the weather would improve. Isbjørn set off to Foxdalen around 1300hrs to set up camp in preparation for their survey work on the Foxbreen glacier. They decide to take the tentipi with them and in addition to RTK GPS survey kit they take a generator, necessary to keep the survey kit charged.

Richard has the generator in his pulk and on the ‘Olympic downhill ski run’ into Foxdalen he is the only one not to fall down!

Polarrev leave at 1200 just when the wind starts to pick up again and head out to cross Adventadalen towards Tobredalen and set up their camp in Helvetiadalen. Rype see them off then tidy up around Base Camp. Cloud, snow, wind, 0ºc, wind drops in the afternoon as does the temperature to –20, which is more like we need!

Friday, April 10

Fieldwork begins

Isbjørn and Polarrev are briefed by Helen and by Lucy on the science they will be doing during this phase of the expedition. The tentipi are great for this providing shelter but just enough space for the Fire to all sit in. The Explorers have time to sort themselves and their kit out ready for the move out to their respective science locations.

In the afternoon they walk out to join their Leaders at a slope down the valley to again practice crevasse rescue and try snow bollards. Rype issue 9 days food to each of the Fires, which equates to a cardboard box of rations each to fit into their pulk in addition to their personal kit, camping kit and science stuff!

Ade (Chielf Leader) spends about 5 hours nursing the “new” generator into life – it responds to the same treatment the “old” generator got last year. Isbjørn are in high spirit, caught on camera. Cloudy, still with breeze and light snow in the afternoon, -6ºc.

Thursday, April 9


Rype, Isbjørn and Polarrev do mountain training on a local slope. For some it is building on the introduction they had to snow craft skills on the 2nd briefing week-end in Scotland. This is just the beginning of developing skills and there will be lots of practice and further training sessions through out the expedition. The snow and wind from the morning clears to a lovely afternoon with great views from the training slope to Longyearbyen and Oscar II land beyond - amazing.

Adam and Craig, after a happy sing in their tent first thing in the morning, head for Longyearbyen around 0930 looking forward to some warmth. Rein set off 1130 on their 4 day journey home via DeGeerdalen. In the evening Helen and Lucy sort out the science equipment they need. Light snow, clearing in the afternoon, -10ºc.

Wednesday, April 8

Getting into the details

0800 radio watch only occurs if a Fire misses the evening radio watch or if it is requested by anyone. Steve completes the Isbjørn radio sit rep (situation report) whilst the rest of the Fire doesn’t have to get up until 1000. During the afternoon Isbjørn and Polarrev are met near the mouth of Janssondalen by Rype, who have spent the morning skiing about looking for a mountain training venue. Mark leads Isbjorn in to Base Camp 1 around 1730 with Polarrev following about 5 mins later.

Rein put up their tents late morning and go for an evening ski. Adam Griffiths (a former leader on extreme arctic 2006) and Craig arrive mid afternoon on their way back to Longyearbyen after pulking further north and stay the night.

It is a full camp tonight with the Explorers obviously pleased to all meet up again. The Leaders have a meeting to plan the morrow. Cloud, clearing in the afternoon, -14ºc.

Tuesday, April 7


The weather is foul, strong wind, snow and very poor visibility. Isbjørn wait until 1800 and then use a break in the weather to move some way up Adventdalen. They have set up camp, eaten and in bed for midnight. Polarrev wait out the weather in their tents, with Charlie, who works at the BSES office, using the tent bound time to chat and interview the Explorers.

Joe reconstructs their toilet to withstand the high winds, all caught on camera! Rype set up the two Tentipis which will be the group pyramid tents 1 for each Fire and the associated bear defence and also assemble the weather station. Rein make a late move to Base Camp 1, only taking an hour, they hadn’t realised how close they were to Base Camp the night before and then take up residence in one of the Tentipi.

Polarrev are initially difficult to hear on the radio schedule but sort out the connections and come through loud and clear. Isbjørn are travelling so Rype receive a sat pager message to let us know they are OK and will radio in the morning. Cloud, snow, -14ºc.

Monday, April 6

The Big Move Out

The Fires walk out of the guesthouse and Nybyen pulling their pulks with everything in them – almost, in a very organised fashion. Others leaving Nybyen earlier in the week had pulks on soft (i.e. rope) traces and it was like a comedy show watching the pulks overtake them, slide sideways and almost take out their colleagues as they walked down the hill from Nybyen to Longyearbyen. Isbjørn and Polarrev pulk out into Adventdalen, the wide valley which runs almost east west and the proper start of the expedition begins. Both Fires settle to travelling on the north side of the approx 4km wide valley. They camp 500m apart about 3km out of Longyearbyen.

Rein (Tim and his north Pole Gang) travel on the south side of Adventdalen and pulk as far as the mouth of Janssondalen, whilst Rype (Base Camp team) tidy up the loose ends in Longyearbyen and then get a skidoo lift with the remainder of the base camp kit to BC1 in Janssondalen.

Rype then set up bear defence, HF radio, and toilet. The first radio schedule at 2000hrs and Isbjørn are late! Polarrev use the correct format but are difficult to hear. The radio schedule is 2000hrs every night when the Fire is away from Base Camp. It is the way that Base Camp knows where the Fires are, how they are and a chance to pass on information. It is how we get the information for these updates so the information is only as detailed as we can glean from the radio schedule! When everything is working well it is also a chance for the Fires to chat briefly to each other. Weather still, clear, -20ºc.

Sunday, April 5

Bear Defence

The Expedition goes to the firing range for a day of polar bear defence training - learning the drill if a bear is encountered before practicing how to fire the rifle effectively only as a last resort. The team spends the evening packing equipment ready for the move out to Base Camp 1. Still, clear, -20ºc.