Saturday, May 06, 2006

Podcasting! Audio diary 1

OK I've had a go at working out what a podcast is so you can hear stuff. First of all I meet Julia and try on an eskimo parka with a furry hood. We are watching Titanic tonight. And Billy has brought over a copy of 'Track of the giant snow bear'. It was made in a village near here. Can't wait.

The podcast should work now. To hear the first audio diary you can click on the link below and to subscribe to the podcast click on the link on the right hand side of the page which says 'Subscribe to audio diary ICE'. Either of these means I don't clog up your inbox with big sound files. I'll send another audio diary soon.

  • Sound of the Ice Melting Audio 1
  • Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Incredible incredible

    A lead opened so we went out last night. It was pretty exciting.

    This is the compass they put on the ice. If it starts moving it means the ice has become loose and you are floating off and need to be rescued.

    This is the tent we all squish into. Except for those on polar bear watch. I was let off that for my first night but we had to get up really really early so not much sleep (also lots of snoring).

    Today they set up the boat at the edge of the lead and waited for whales. I've never seen anywhere so beautiful. Saw a seal stick its head out of the water. Riley told me loads more about the spiritual side of the hunt. They believe the whales are reborn and some of them give themselves up voluntarily. There were prayers being said over the VHF(?) radio and people chatting to their mums. He also said things have changed a great deal since he first went out as a boy. He says the ice is much thinner. Apparently sometimes beluga whales come jumping along the lead for hours. Have ALWAYS wanted to see a beluga. Think I want to be Barrow correspondent.

    Then the ice started coming in again and we had to pack up in a hurry before it hit our side and caused a pressure ridge and sort of ice-quake - very dangerous. So we came back to Barrow. I am having to listen really hard and do exactly what I'm told (new experience...) and be alert and try to notice things on the trail, in the ice and clouds and generally not be a dozy idiot which I am finding quite hard... Not really getting a chance to record anything - had to help and be ready to pack up the whole camp very quickly at any time and too scared of getting in the way. But they were kind and after we got back they said I 'did good out there... for a first timer'. Phew. A stronger north-east wind is expected Thursday so a bigger lead should open up more quickly. Here's Billy pulling the boat on the way back.

    Had caribou soup for dinner. Really tired now.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Cracks in the ice

    We went 9.5 miles out today to check for leads and cracks. This is where it could break off when the wind changes I think. It's also probably where my minidisc recorder has gone. Oooops.

    Arctic fox trail... its tracks were following polar bear tracks because it scavenges off the food the polar bear catches.

    Van thinks this might be water sky - see the dark line? i.e. where the lead of water opening up is reflected in the sky. But it's a bit difficult to tell at the moment. Billy seems to think we'll probably go out tomorrow though.

    Snow machine maintenance. We saw an ugruuk - think that's how you spell it - a bearded seal. It caused lots of interest because its skin is used to make boats. But it slipped off into the water.

    Polar bear protection.

    View from the snowmachine. I have worked out how to sit on it so you don't nearly fall off all the time and your arms stay in their sockets. Phew.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Lead opening

    Apparently the sky's getting dark. Am going to go and have a look. Probably off soon.

    Breaking trail

    I went out on the sea ice for the first time. We went for about 8 miles. It was incredibly beautiful. There were huge chunks of blue striped ice and polar bear tracks! Apparently these are a couple of days old and are from a big one.

    I hit the ice a couple of times with the axe and now my arms feel like they're going to fall off. Stepped into a big crack that was covered up by snow. Had to hang on pillion on the back of the snowmachine which was really hard because it was so fast and bumpy but Billy (above right) let me drive the snowmachine on the way back! The small hills behind are glacial ice which is fresh water. The crunched up bits are pressure ridges. Any flat bits are young ice a year old or something like that.

    They were on polar bear watch. I was too. They told me to look for snow that was walking. Now we are just waiting for the wind to change and the lead to open.

    Sunday, April 30, 2006

    Dancing lesson

    These are my Inupiat dance teachers. Julia, Lillian, Caitlin and Jesley3. I can't spell their Inupiat names. The dances are fantastic. Some of them are about animals.

    Think I am as ready as I will ever be to go out on the ice. I am wishing I had a proper compass though... and a GPS... and a helicopter... Have tied my gloves to a piece of string and put them through my coat like a three year old so I don't lose them again and am having to put up with lots of people laughing their heads off. Except Chico (below) who says it's the sign of an experienced polar explorer. Hmmm. We went and tried to listen to the ice cracking on the shore but the wind was making too much noise.

    False alarm

    Just found out that whale snow means the whales are close by but not necessarily that the lead is going to open. The wind has changed back. So everyone is a bit sad they can't go out because they can tell the whales are around. I am really on edge waiting. Going to go and let my camera roll on the arctic ocean for an hour to try and get a really small change in the light over a long time and to practise using the sat phone.