25th Feb 2010
Frustration setting in as we are still stuck in YellowKnife. Conditions for last few days in Resolute stormy and not safe for us to leave on route with flight. We have all our gear sitting in a hanger now and awaiting to be loaded on a special charter so all we can do is sit and wait. The clock is ticking and we need to be moving over the next few days to be in position, our window is very limited. Reports about the ice conditions this year are bad. But all of this is expedition life dealing with the unknown.
February 24, 2010
Disappointed today, we made our way to the airport to fly to Resolute but there was a blizzard in Resolute and we had to call off the flight for safety reasons. We are now getting itchy feet and just want to get on the ice. It has been a pressurized time here in Yellowknife getting everything ready.
Looking at all the food equipment now laying in Summit Airs hanger I find it hard to think that we will have to pull and haul all of this to the pole to survive. Concerned now to get to Resolute and be in place to fly to our starting point, I hope that we will get no further delays down here. I have been in situation where weather has blocked us for over a week. The time is ticking and we have to move soon.
Cross fingers for tomorrow, then a few days in Resolute to finalise our charter flight plan with Borek Air and then the real adventure begins.
17th Feb 2010
It feels like the words in an old song. “My bags are packed and I’m ready to go.”
A week of packing...
The last week flew, we didn’t have a minute to relax or even see anything of the beauty of Yellow Knife, we were so busy sorting our gear, equipment and food.
It was a real nightmare as we checked and double check, packed and repacked numerous times to try and cut down weight and also endeavoured to compress the volume that we would have to take on the ice, In doing this we really have to stay focused on not compromising on our calorie intake of food or safety equipment. Its so easy as the weight add up to just leave something behind.
Its amazing to see all gear and equipment at last coming together, 60 days of it. Can you imagine purchasing 60 days of normal food at home, just base on an average persons requirement of 2500 calories and then multiplying this by 3 to 4 time the volume, because you have to eat between 8 to 9000 calories. Now imagine trying to fit all of that into your kitchen cupboards. Now our task was to fit all our gear into one small sled with only one drop of resupply on route.
Now that’s a task of management of logistics for Clare, John and I.
Feb 10th - 15th
The generosity of the people here in Yellowknife is amazing, it really does remind me of Ireland years ago, when we were the island of the (“Cead Mile Failte”) of the hundred thousand welcomes.
All I can say it is alive and well here in Yellow Knife. Everyone has welcomed us with open arms, they have embraced what we are trying to do and been super helpful above and beyond what we ever expected. It is an amazing community, they are all so proud of their city, community and area and even though it is the diamond capital of Canada they really look after their visitors.
Stores for packing:
After confirming our bags were here, our next task was to find a place to sort all our equipment and we required around a 500 square foot storage area to make it easy for us to sort our gear. We thought well that’s not going to be easy to organise and that it would take us days or even that we might have to sort our gear at the Blue Raven B&B.
Tessa our host suggested we go and see the local Deton Cho Corporation, a co-op of indigenous companies that specialise in mining logistics throughout the region which was just up the hill from our B&B. And I must say I was blown away by the efforts they went to sort us out.
Hospitality at its best!
We were brought into the office manager, Jennie Turner, who made contact with one of their project managers Vince Halushka, but alas he had nothing suitable. Vince, contacted one of their sister companies and their managing partners Matt Mossman, who has an Irish background - Colemans and Ryans.
He in turn really pulled out all the stops, within a hour we were sorted. He came up in a big 4x4 crew cab, went to Buffalo air with us and we moved all our gear to one of his warehouses. For the next three days he ferried us in and out of town to the warehouse and when the weekend came up insisted we take his crew cab to ensure we’d have no hassle in getting in and out of the stores.
We felt like kings, the hospitality was amazing, we had really landed on our feet and received a “Cead Mile Failte” A hundred thousand welcomes here in Yellow Knife.
Thanks to Jennie, Vince and Matt.
We had a long day again today!
Age and expedition life catches up with you after 65 adventures around the world and to ensure that a long day was ahead again. Today we tested our tents for the expedition. We are still torn between the Hilleberg and the Webber tents.
We are very busy with all the work as you can see. We are doing our best to write reports and send back images to Niall back at base. At times you may find no reports for a few days due to the pressure of our schedule. We will do our best, thanks for following.
9th Feb 2010
One million three hundred thousand calories of food arrive with the rest of our gear here in Yellow knife. It makes my mind boggle. Just to think that we will have to be able to eat that amount of food to sustain our energy to succeed over 60 days.
A cloudy, dull morning I had little sleep last night as I was worried about the warm temperatures and anticipation about all of our gear.
Today is full of anticipation about our gear. After many days of tracking our gear around the world, we finally confirm it’s here in Yellow Knife safely. Thanks to the good work of Niall in Mail Boxes Etc in Killarney.
Of course hearing confirmation and seeing our gear is two different things. So not happy just to get confirmation, Clare and I took a taxi to the despatching depot at Buffalo Air to check it physical presence. Expedition life has made me cautious over the years of gear and equipment not turning up even though it has been confirmed. Success is all about check, double check and re-check again. There is no room for mistakes in the places that we travel. 3,600 pieces of food and 300 pieces of gear and equipment now have to be checked over the coming days and sorted into individual packs. (That is another few days work)
Well let me say I was relieved. It was all sitting in a corner. After talking to Kelly at the depot she agreed that we could leave it there for a few days until we found a place to sort it. She was so friendly when she heard what we were doing she offered us space in the warehouse to do it. We had to decline her offer as we needed a warmer and more clinical environment to sort our food.
3,600 pieces of vital high energy pieces of food to sustain us on our journey to the Pole, made out painstakingly by Clare over the last year. Clare took up the responsibility of the team nutrition which is vital to the success of the expedition. A painstaking task that took her over a year to put together with the help of Professor Jakeman from the sports and science department in the University of Limerick.
Napoleon, I believe said- 'an Army marches on its stomach', and for us the nutrition is a vital part in the planning process of this expedition and I could not have anyone more experienced to handle our food.
Talking about food:
Well talking about food, John, Clare and I went shopping and bought food to cook at our B&B over the coming days. God only knows how that will work out. I’m not the best cook, I’m more a boil in the bag person or eat out.
(More details will be posted on our equipment section of the website on content of our food over the coming weeks)
Gear in Place
Well now all our gear is in place at the warehouse. Tents, stoves, food and all other equipment. We are relieved and happy that our next job was to go in search for a warehouse to sort our gear.
8th Feb. 2010
We have arrived to our training camp in the diamond capital of Canada, a bit disappointed with the weather, a cool -12 degrees. I know at home in Ireland that would nearly close the country but we are here training to go to the North Pole, we were expecting -32 degrees Celsius. This is not what it is supposed to be here now.
As we drive to our new home for the next 17 days, at our new base camp, The Blue Raven B&B on the old part of the city, the taxi driver is delighted that we are in Yellowknife in the coolest it has been in 30 years, not realising how disappointed that we were to hear that. “It must be climate change, the world’s weather is gone crazy” he said but very good for tourists right now.
As he is saying that, we are concerned that the ice condition up North will be bad for us.
Base Camp On Otto Drive;
Our Base camp, is situated right at the edge of the Slave Lake which will be our test ground for our gear checks and training over the coming days.
From here we will make switch back journeys up and down the lake tweaking any final adjustments that we need to make to our gear. Once we are out of here that is it.
Our lovely host Tessa Macintosh, is a professional photographer and has been involved in a number of cultural publications. She has worked with “Native Press and the NWT government and she has a great insight into the native culture, which is also a keen interest of mine.
Well as I said the journey begins for Clare, John and I. Tomorrow the work and the worry about our gear clearing customs begins.
Questions in our head going to bed tonight:
• Will we have all our gear sent from Ireland? 18 large duffle bags.
• Will customs look for extra money and hold the consignment?
• Will we have any damaged equipment?
To find out more - www.patfalvey.com
World renowned Irish adventurers Pat Falvey, Dr. Clare O’Leary and John Dowd will complete a historical and icy voyage as they navigate, walk, ski, and swim for two months on a 784km expedition of endurance. Man-hauling their sleds across the rugged, broken, melting Arctic Ocean from Canada, they will be the first Irish team to reach the North Pole without the aid of dogs or any mechanical means.
Traversing the ice to reach the North Pole is now considered the most difficult challenge on earth due to the effects of global warming. The all-Irish team will experience climate change first-hand when forced to negotiate thousands of open leads and cracks in the ice, and to climb erupting pressure ridges and tumbling ice blocks the size of four-story houses, all while dragging sleds and gear behind them weighing 220lbs each. They will also face the very real risk of a polar bear attack.
“The journey is equivalent to 60 consecutive marathons,” says Pat Falvey, “through cold temperatures down to -60 degrees celsius.” The team must travel in order to train in similar conditions, having already completed several trips over the past year. December ’09 will find them testing gear and equipment in Canada, returning again to Canada in February for training, leading directly to an expedition start March 1, 2010.
For both Falvey and O’Leary, reaching the North Pole will mark the distinctive completion of the 3 Poles Challenge. The 3 Poles is an adventure challenge to reach the three most extreme poles on earth: Everest as the highest pole, the South Pole, and the North Pole. If successful, culmination of the 3 Poles challenge for Pat and Clare will place them among only 15 people in the world to complete this grueling achievement.
Pat Falvey is a veteran of over 65 worldwide expeditions while Clare O’Leary is a veteran of 22, and John Dowd a veteran of 12 expeditions. Both Falvey and O’Leary have already completed the Seven Summits Challenge, reaching the highest peaks on the seven continents. Dowd has completed five of the seven summits to date.
Further information and daily blogs will be available in the coming weeks. In the mean time, if you have any queries or would like to find out more, Contact:
The Mountain Lodge
Killarney, Co. Kerry
2000 Bulaga whales play in Cunningham Inlet during July and August.
I have just returned from an amazing wild life adventure from the remote Island of Somerset 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. I stayed with friends Richard and Joosee Webber their sons Tessun and Nansan at their wilderness Lodge “Arctic Watch” the most northerly Wilderness Lodge in the world.
It is difficult to put my experiences into words as it was mind blowing there. The fun, the exhilaration of being with friends (and similar minded people that have a passion for “The Arctic”,) the whales and the unique wildlife of the tundra region are amazing and I get to see it all while living life to the fullest and enjoying the wonders of this unique part of the world, that is now under treat from global warming and climate change.
I have fallen in love with this region of the world and this is my second adventure up here in the last 6 months. The first in February 2009 just across the bay at Resolute when it was cold and all the sea and the North West passage was iced in and the temperature was down to -50 degrees Celsius. So it was a pleasure to be back in July with pleasant temperatures and sunny days.
So I’m intending to return next year for a wildlife expedition with a team of 10 to 12 people that might be interested in photography, whales, and arctic wildlife.
So why not take a walk on the wild side...
If your are interested let me know. This adventure is suitable for any reasonably fit person with no experience other than a love of wild life, unique places and the Arctic. The excitement begins once we leave Ireland.
Contact me today for an adnventure of a lifetime - www.patfalvey.com