Hoping for a year of bonkers adventures with skis, axes, tents and sticky rubber!
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Wednesday, 24 December 2014
I’ve just spent a long (this is Scotland in December!) windy and snowy night camped below the mountain Braeriach. The weather was too poor to climb to the summit, but it was a very useful exercise to shake down some new gear in advance of the Homathko traverse in spring, and gave me an opportunity to practise navigation with map and compass.
Saturday, 20 December 2014
Friday, 19 December 2014
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Fridtjof Nansen - Polar Landscape with Lars Pettersen in the foreground, 1894
Second engineer on the Fram, the only non-Norwegian on the team. These guys were far from home, both literally and figuratively. But more figuratively than literally, which is what makes for a true adventure in a wild place.
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Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Monday, 15 December 2014
In the first four years of owning my current passport I travelled almost exclusively within Europe and so didn’t pick up many stamps. Then I started working in expedition cruising and after only three years it is full!
Argentina is the undisputed winner with 31 individual stamps, followed by Chile and the USA with 10 each.
I’ve upgraded to a 48 page ‘jumbo’ passport so hopefully this one will last a bit longer.
Friday, 12 December 2014
Sunday, 30 November 2014
I’ve just finished a short but action packed contract in Antarctica. Some odd moments and new experiences but a lot of success. I’m looking forward to coming back but for now I have almost two weeks exploring Patagonia to look forward to.
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Friday, 28 November 2014
We spent yesterday afternoon at the glacier above Ushuaia doing crevasse rescue training. Good fun, but let’s hope we never have to use it!
I’ve been out in the hills of Tierra del Fuego teaching crevasse rescue procedures and techniques to a team of polar professionals. As Lauren says, I hope none of us have to use what we know; our first precaution is to stay away from risky terrain altogether.
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Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Saturday, 22 November 2014
Thursday, 9 October 2014
"The focus of international politics often tends to revolve around energy security within the context..."
- Why is the Arctic at the Center of World Politics?
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Today I was out doing some navigation exercises on Cairngorm, Scotland, with Jonty Mills. Jonty has a huge amount of experience in the mountains and has been my chief climbing and skiing partner for about a decade now. He recently passed his ML (Mountain Leader) assessment - a rigorous exam not to be sniffed at - and I had a very enjoyable day being taught navigational techniques by him. He has always been the main navigator in the team, but nonetheless I was surprised at how good a teacher he was.
While we were on a slightly lesser visited side of Cairngorm we took the opportunity to seek out the El Alamein Refuge, built in the 1960s to commemorate the 51st Highland Division. It’s not marked on the map and not everyone knows where it is, but we found it surprisingly quickly and easily, so I think the only barrier to finding it is actually bothering to look! It’s not in a very useful spot but it’s still a shame to see it in such a state of disrepair.
Anyway, if you’re looking for navigational instruction or just a great day out in the hills (especially if you’re looking for some esoterica!) then I can heartily recommend Jonty’s company On High Hills:
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Thursday, 18 September 2014
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Monday, 15 September 2014
Sunday, 14 September 2014
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Friday, 12 September 2014
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Monday, 8 September 2014
Sunday, 7 September 2014
Saturday, 6 September 2014
Friday, 5 September 2014
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Monday, 1 September 2014
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Called pisugtooq, the great wanderer, by the polar Eskimos of NW Greenland, the polar bear has no territory but instead a vast range through which it wanders tirelessly. This behavior is necessitated by the shifting sea ice and changing ocean productivity on which is depends, but it has developed into an animal with seemingly no limits as to where it is willing to go.
Nobody really knows what drives this seemingly deliberate and intent ceaseless travel, how they know where they are or how they know where they are going. A bear in Svalbard may wonder within a few hundred square kilometres for several months before walking to Franz Josef Land and then halfway to the North Pole, covering thousands of miles. Bears have been seen in such unlikely spots as the summit of Mt Newton in Svalbard (an altitude of 6600ft!) or 30 miles inland on the Greenland ice cap and we have no real idea what they are doing there, though we may speculate. The females of the Alaskan population den on shifting sea ice and emerge from their dens a significant distance from where they dug in months before. Despite this, they converge on their traditional feeding areas with unerring and uncanny accuracy no matter where they start.
The bear pictured here was encountered on sea ice within a mile of the island of Storoya in the east of the Svalbard archipelago. Fearlessly curious as to what we were, it quickly resumed its travel westward when we slowly retreated.
Like every sighting, this bear was full of mystery. Where did it come from? Where is it going with such intent? And with this mystery comes an admiration for an animal so incredibly at home in its environment, able to cover the difficult and shifting terrain with ease and comfort. Its motion is assured, almost leisurely and proprietorial; early whalers apparently nicknamed it ‘the farmer’ because of its easy stride.
This isn’t an animal that’s surviving; it’s a robust and resourceful creature ‘choosing’ to remain, and roam endlessly, in the environment in which it feels most at home.
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