The whole story by Emilie and Venkata

Emilie and Venkata are safely back in Rovaniemi, and they tell you the whole story:

Tuesday 8th – Friday 11th of April – Venkata

Sakari and I had a flight in the afternoon on the 9th April from Tromso and in a bit more than an hour we were in Longyearbyen. We then went to the helicopter ride place, which is conveniently located some 200 meters on the other end of the airport. In couple more hours the three of us, including the driller – Mike, were transported to Kinnvika. The first couple of days we were just getting accustomed to the new place and trying to make sure if the gear that was sent last summer were there or not. Piotr, Emilie and Laura arrived in Longyearbyen on the 8th of April to buy tools that would be missing in the station. Also, Sakari was helping the SPRS guys in getting the skidoos to work and as they were not in use since last summer, they had some problems but eventually they were up and running. And in the next couple of days there were more spring expedition people joining us along with other members of our drilling group – Piotr, Laura and Emilie. In the meanwhile I was trying to get the Iridium email setup working by hooking up to my laptop and after Emilie arrived, tried connecting the Iridium with her laptop but still couldn’t send any data. Tried it for a number of times continuously because sometimes the signal could be lost and when we keep trying continuously it could eventually transmit the data. But no such luck yet!


All the drill gear ready for takeoff from Longyearbyen (photo by Gerit Rotschky)


Kinnvika station from far (photo by Emilie Beaudon) 

Saturday April 12th – Emilie

We all spent the night in the very cold (-25°C) pyramidal house, sleeping on doors that were used as planks underneath our sleeping bags. Piotr, Laura, Venkata and I devoted the day to assemble the mess tent and check all our scientific gear.

Sunday April 13th  – Venkata

We checked our boxes for the second time and talked together about how we would organize the drilling and the measurements. To mark Sunday dinner, we had excellent dry sausages specially imported from France by Emilie. After that, Janne and Lasse (from SPRS) organized the compulsory shooting practice with Winchester shotguns for all of us who might have to face a polar bear in the area. Piotr also gave general recommendations about how to take care of the snowmobiles.  

 

 
     
Emilie practicing using the shotgun (top photo) and Snowmobile crash course by Piotr (bottom photo) (Photos by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 Monday April 14th  – Emilie

It was a bit windy in the morning at Kinnvika but as the day went along, the weather became quite nice, it was actually quite warm (-4°C) and the sea ice around Murchinson Bay already started to melt. We fixed the Scott tents with the aluminium poles and got them ready for transport, and also packed some scientific boxes on the sledges. Later in the afternoon, we had a scooter driving practice with Lasse. Venkata talked with John and updated him of the present situation including that Veijo and Rickard will go for radar measurements later in the afternoon and our team might go later to pitch tents on the ice cap but as it turned out the weather on Vestfonna was stormy. So, only the ‘experienced’ people (Piotr, Sakari, Mike, Janne, Lasse, Poul and Alun) went to the glacier, where they would meet up with Veijo and Rickard. The remaining people (Laura, Venkata, Olli, Gerit and I) stayed back at Kinnvika. Sometime after midnight, Veijo radioed us saying that the winds were quite strong up there on the ice cap and that they were driving in a white out. As they would be coming back soon and we had to convey this info, if possible, to the group that left for the glacier. For the first time we washed ourselves in the warmish Kinnvika sauna (about 30°) which is the northernmost sauna in the world. Waited till 4AM to try and get in contact with the group but we couldn’t yet!’

 Laura and Venkata shown here fixing the scott tents (Photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 Tuesday April 15th  – Venkata

All the people that went up to the glacier returned sometime early morning about 6AM. It seems that they did not go up the glacier as it was quite stormy and left all the equipment at the foot of the glacier. We packed all of the scientific gear for loading onto the sledges and cut wood for the table to be set-up for the ECM. Sakari bought some ropes that reindeer herders use for gathering the reindeer and all of us practiced in the afternoon the technique for a brief while. Today had been cloudy and was snowing a bit in the day, but later in the evening a strong drift started suddenly. We are hoping that there will be better weather tomorrow and if so, then we shall all make a dash to the summit to set up the living tents and drill tent.


Learning the technique with the ropes used for gathering reindeer
 (Photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

Wednesday April 16th  – Emilie

At breakfast Veijo said that the weather is good enough this morning and we shall go to the glacier soon. So we started to quickly load all the gear on to the sledges and started off. This was the first time Venkata told that he rode a scooter for more than 15 minutes, while I had the chance to ride alone all the way to the summit as I was the lightest person for driving a scooter with defective suspension. At the foot of the glacier where the group put all the gear from last Monday’s attempt, we collected them and drove to the camp site, a few hundred meters away from the Ahlman Summit. We then pitched the two pyramid tents and the kitchen tent following Piotr’s instructions and in the mean time, Janne, Lasse, Veijo and Rickard went to the site where the helicopter dropped off the drill related equipment and got them to the drill site which was about 200 meters from the camp. Actually, it also started snowing when we were at the glacier foot and turned to hail during the night and quite soon, there was white out. We also made a 1.5 meter snow pit for the toilet. We covered it with a spare tent cover and put couple of sledges on it so the roof wouldn’t collapse or the wind wouldn’t blow it away. Mike and Piotr slept in one of the pyramid tents while Laura and I took the other one and Sakari and Venkata slept in the kitchen tent.

ATV & sledges stuck in the snow during transport to the glacier (photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)


Pitching the kitchen tent on the glacier. (photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

Thursday April 17th  – Venkata

Sakari and I woke up early this morning to clean up the snow blown inside the kitchen tent before the others woke up and came inside. Snowdrift also formed on downwind walls of the Scott tent. Apparently the wind changed directions overnight. Yesterday till the time before we slept the wind was blowing from NNW and now the wind is blowing from the SSE. Because of how the wind was prevailing the previous day, we set up the kitchen tent door toward the South and now it looks like a mistake! It was still white out with strong wind today .It was too dangerous to try to reach the drill site that was 200m away. We fixed today the stove that would provide us with some heat in the kitchen tent. It runs on coal and wood and now after having it up and running it’s been a bit nice. Hope tomorrow brings better weather! We set up a radio contact time with Kinnvika at 8 PM and from now on, everyday it will be during this time that we shall radio them.

Friday April 18th  – Venkata

It is still windy and cold today but not as much wind as yesterday. I had been experiencing cold and runny nose for the past 3 days but today feels a lot better and it appears it is almost gone. Later Emilie tried contacting John but couldn’t reach him. So she called Anna instead and updated her about our Vestfonna setup. There was a mini disaster in the kitchen today. Since all the food in the tins were frozen, we used to heat them up by putting them in boiling water or directly heat them on the coal stove and then pour them into the pan for preparing food. So today we decided to have ‘Flaki’, a polish dish made from cow intestine. Anyway, Piotr put it on the coal stove without opening the lid and after a while pressure built up inside and without realizing that Piotr opened the top and before we realized something was wrong, there was Flaki everywhere, on the walls and ceiling of the kitchen tent, on my fleece jacket and Sakari’s jacket and all the bags! But it was something we laughed away and it became a running joke because we kept finding the Flaki bits in each and every part of the tent. We went outside later to dig out our toilet shelter that was totally filled with snow during the day. It was quite cold but the flaki incident kept our spirits up during the digging process.

Saturday April 19th  – Venkata

The weather is still nasty outside with the wind probably at 30 m/s. Frustrated to be useless in this camp; we also started to get worried about our work timing plan. During this strong everlasting storm, the main mission is to dig the toilets. Since we were not able to build an igloo, it had been so that Sakari or I were re-digging the entrance to the toilet and we all would make use of the toilet one after another before the wind closes it with snow again. We all took care of cleaning our hands with dry soap before touching clean boiled dishes in order to avoid dysentery or any other contagious illnesses.  In spite of the small stove, the mess tent is not warm at all and frost is formed on its wall by the vapor we produce.

From the radio contact with Kinnvika we learnt that they tried coming up to the glacier but there was too much snow, as it has been quite stormy over there as well. But they assured us that they would get our food, coal and gear supplies ASAP. We also were wondering how the weather has been in Austfonna where there is a Norwegian team doing fieldwork! Piotr called Hornsund and they told him that they had good weather yesterday and today but there is a storm predicted for the coming Monday-Wednesday. (sigh!)

Mike and Venkata looking for a better reception during radio contact with Kinnvika (photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 

Sunday April 20th  – Emilie

Today has been one of the stormiest and coldest days by far with wind probably at 110-120 Km/h with snow and drift! But later in the evening Poul, Rickard and Veijo heroically got us some food supplies and said they didn’t bring any fuel (coal or wood) since they thought food was more important and maybe we had enough fuel left. They said that they spent about 5 hours at the foot of the glacier in this weather trying to get on the glacier. It seems they started sometime at 9 in the morning and it was about 6 PM they were at our camp on the ice cap. They had problems getting stuck from time to time because there was so much loose snow and were constantly digging their scooters and sledges out of the snow. At some place along the way they told that the snow was more than waist deep. Their hats and balaclava were as rigid as cardboard and their faces were frozen. Poul nicknamed our camp: “camp hell”. All of us at the camp were very happy and grateful to see them as we were starting to get a bit low on the supplies.

After dinner we re-arranged the installation inside the mess tent and later Mike read us the 1st chapter from one of the books he bought along, The Little Ice Age by Brian Fagan.  

Lots of wind and snow drift during the storm (Photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 Monday April 21st  – Venkata

We can correct our yesterday’s statement by saying this day had been the coldest and stormiest so far or it just feels like that. Violent wind made the tent walls flapping noisily, as if someone was constantly throwing stones on them and Emilie says that she felt like in a giant washing machine. It was – 15°C inside the tent. Sakari had a thermometer hanging outside the tent for the first few days but we realized today that the wind blew it away. It is somewhere on Vestfonna taking the temperature reading all by itself! Sakari and I worked today again on digging up a toilet but this time the entrance facing the opposite side of the wind (towards Northeast). It seems to be alright now but have to see how it will be tomorrow.  

 

Emilie & Laura trying to get into their tent during the storm. (photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 

Tuesday April 22nd  – Emilie

It was colder (-17°C inside the tent) and snowier than the days before and the visibility is very poor. The WNW wind is also stronger (about 35 m/s), probably channelized by LadyFranklinfjorden (summit Ahlmann is in the prolongation of this fjord).

 Both the pyramid tents and the kitchen tent have so far withstood the storm quite well. Today we called John and updated him of the situation on the glacier. We are getting a little low on the fuel (both coal and wood) for the stove and we are out of bread, and we imposed rationing. Mike continued the reading of Fagan’s book. Almost everybody is sick (soar throat, headaches, cold). As the luminance outside has always been the same for the past 6 days, we were loosing all notion of time. Slowly we moved to a completely wrong rhythm: we woke up at 4 pm and went to sleep at 4 am.

 

 Entrance to the toilet in better weather conditions (photo by Laura Arppe)

Wednesday April 23rd  – Venkata

It was 0°C inside the tent and we could already guess that the storm had subsided. There was dazzling light outside! For the first time since 8 days we could distinguish the ground from the sky and finally see the sun and his wide halo again. Everyone started to dig around the tents to clear up snow and to recover the boxes, wood and other gear. After dinner we had radio contact with Kinnvika and were told that Veijo and others would be coming to the glacier soon. After this we went to the drill site and dug around for the drill equipment and the drill tent. We found all the drill equipment boxes (all the 9 boxes that we counted at Airlift) and the frames for the tent but couldn’t find the tent cover itself. We used snow probes to look for it at the drill site and also did the same near the sleeping tents but we couldn’t find it yet! Later Veijo, Rickard, Olli and Gerit arrived. The later two will be digging some snow pits. Veijo told us the tent could be at the drill site or at the helicopter drop off site, 4 kms away from the camp. So, later Piotr, Sakari, Emilie and Laura went to the helicopter drop off site and poked around with their snow probes but returned empty handed. Meanwhile, fog and rime were coming from the West. Janne was the person who went initially to the glacier when the helicopter had to unload the drill related stuff; we had to talk with him the next morning if he remembers more about the tent cover. In the meanwhile Veijo and the others didn’t have enough space on their sledges to get coal or wood so we were left looking forward for the next day or so to get those supplies and in the meantime used our last supplies of wood and Mike told us that we could mix some motor oil with ash in tin cans and burn them as fuel. It seems to be a good alternative for keeping us warm but a bad one to keep the site clean. 

 

 

Few hours after the storm subsided (photo by Emilie Beaudon)

Thursday April 24th  – Venkata

Since the past week when the storm started our sleeping cycles have changed a bit. We also thought that when we start drilling, it would be better to drill during the night time rather than during the day because the drill tent might get hot and there could be condensation and dripping water inside the tent. Sakari, Piotr and I went to the helicopter drop off site and started probing but this time tried it in a larger area and by the time we finished we measured that we probed 20mx20m (400 sq.m) of area. But the tent skin is still missing! We got in the meanwhile additional coal and wood today. Veijo, Rickard, Poul and Alun have setup their tents here along with Olli and Gerit’s tent and all of them would be going to their work sites and getting back to the camp to sleep. The kitchen is getting a bit crowded when everyone is here.

 Friday April 25th  – Venkata

 The weather conditions were perfect: cold, calm and sunny. Today we looked around for the tent skin at the drill site and also near our sleeping tents but with no result. But then we also decided to take the tent frames out of their bags and put them together to get an idea of how it looks. In the end we had a successful setup of the tent skeleton and Mike came later on and pointed out where he thought would be a good place for the tent to be put and we put it there. Piotr lead us in these activities. Sakari and Emilie talked with John and updated him of the situation regarding the missing tent and we were told by John to do the best we can in setting up the tent and only concentrate on getting the ice core if it comes down to that.

Setting up the drill tent framework (photo by Laura Arppe)

Saturday April 26th  – Venkata

Today there was slight southerly wind, with temperature at – 20°C. Piotr and Sakari checked for the weather reports over their Satellite phones and were told that there was a storm system coming this way, and so all the groups that were here packed up and left for Kinnvika; while Gerit had to go back home to prepare for her wedding. We were once again by ourselves on the ice cap. Piotr and Sakari went to the depot at the foot of the glacier to get coal and another tent similar to the kitchen tent to try to see how it fits the drill frame and when they returned, they reported that it was very windy down there. We also in the meanwhile started to build an igloo for the toilet but left it halfway, coz the structure was getting a bit unstable and Mike told us that maybe we should let it settle overnight. Laura and Emilie flattened the snow around the tents in preparation for the new storm forecasted.

Sunday April 27th  – Emilie

There has been no hint of storm today but had wind from south and hoar frost everywhere. After breakfast we took out the tent skin that we got from the depot yesterday and it fit quite nicely on the drill frame even though they were not designed for each other. But of course it was only 3/4th of the entire frame and for the remaining part we covered it with a tarpaulin sheet we had and secured them as best as possible but we wouldn’t know how strong the setup is unless we get hit by a storm, which of course is the last thing we want. Mike was satisfied by our job and set up the floor for the drill and left it overnight to settle and tomorrow he can get his drill equipment in here and start assembling them as well. The drill floor was dug about half a meter deep and was evened properly and later was covered with wood beams and on top of them had the plywood floor. Venkata called John to inform that the tent was up. Tomorrow Veijo and Rickard could drop in, if possible, to get us the NP tent for the extension of the drill tent. We have to also decide how much space we would need to have the band saw, ECM setup and for packing the ice core into boxes and look if we will have enough extension for all that.

Drill tent in the foreground and the camp site in the background   (photo by Venkata Gandikota)

 Monday April 28th  – Venkata

Laura, Emilie and I did a lot of snow digging and cut large blocks of snow to secure the sides of the tent and also started to build a 2 m long brick wall for the extension with double protection on either side after what they shoveled to make the floor even inside the tent. This was the best way to warm by this very cold day. In the drill tent Mike setup the winch with help from Sakari and Piotr. But Mike told us that we would need to lift the tent up vertically by about 12 cm because the drill when it is lifted up needs some additional space. So we will do that the first thing tomorrow.

 

The winch being setup in the drill tent. (photo by Emilie Beaudon)

Emilie seen here, carrying the snow blocks which we used to build the walls. (photo by Venkata Gandikota)

Tuesday April 29th  – Venkata

After breakfast we went to the drill site and loosened the ropes and raised the frame of the tent by 12 cm, as Mike wanted, by placing wood underneath the frame and reassured the whole tent with ropes and snow blocks. Later in the evening Mike said the drill barrel which actually consists of an outer barrel and a rotating inner barrel has a bend. He showed us that the inner barrel which usually must slide in and out of the outer barrel quite freely was not so and it was stuck inside and he was not able to get it out by himself. He said it must have been damaged during the transport. The packaging of the barrels was such that on one end there was also the motor put along with them and that side was where the bend seems to be. Mike said that the motor should have been packaged separately so this kind of thing could have been avoided. There seems to be two options to solve that problem: one is by heavy mechanical exertion for which we don’t have the necessary tools and set up and the other option is to use a high temperature flame like the oxy-acetylene flame which is used for welding purposes. By applying this high temperature pin-pointedly at the particular area and later cooling it down, it seems that we would be able to straighten the barrel. Immediately we tried calling Veijo and others at Kinnvika but could reach them only after a lot of tries as the reception was not good. But we did manage to convey the info to them and later tried calling our point man in Longyearbyen, Arthur Adamek, to ask if he knows where we could find this oxy-acetylene flame and he replied that he remembers seeing one at the NP workshop there but since it was night time now, he would only be able to contact them early next morning and update us about the situation. The plan was if they do have them, we have Bartek flying to Kinnvika from Longyearbyen tomorrow and he would get them along with him. There is not much we can do now than to wait till next morning!

 

 

The bend clearly illustrated with a tight thin rope tied to either end of the outer drill barrel (photos by Michael Gerasimoff)

Wednesday April 30th  – Emilie

We contacted Arthur at about 8 this morning as Bartek’s chopper flight was to start sometime at 9 from Longyearbyen. It seems he was able to secure the oxygen and acetylene cylinders to fly them to Kinnvika and the chopper crew initially when they were told about it, said  that they could fly them. But after seeing the items on the list just before the actual flight they told that since the cylinders were combustible we would need to get some special permission to fly them. So, Bartek and others had to fly without the cylinders. After knowing this we radioed Veijo in Kinnvika and decided that the only option now is to fly Mike along with the barrel to Longyear so he could get it fixed there and return back to the camp ASAP. Unfortunately the data software was still not working to email John so we tried calling him to update him about the situation but couldn’t reach him. So we called Anna Sinisalo at the Arctic Centre and updated her about this situation. She said she will sms or email John. Veijo and Rickard arrived later in the noon and since Veijo is the spring expedition leader he weighed the situation after discussing with us and wanted to know if John would bear the extra transportation (flight) costs which would include 2 return trips and costing an additional 10000 Euros and if everyone in the group were willing to stay if we needed to extend the drill schedule by a week. We don’t yet have answers to some of these but everyone agreed that if the drill is fixed, we were willing to stay one more week if it means we would be able to get at least 150 m of ice core.

Thursday May 1st  – Venkata

It is Vappu today. Emilie quickly fixed the flagstaff to fly the flags we had bought along. Laura, Emilie and I went to the drill site to consolidate the snow walls of the tent extension. The SPRS guys bought Bartek, Olli and Adrian along with them to the camp and Mike packed all his stuff and the drill barrels to take along with him, first to Kinnvika and then to Longyear to get them fixed. Sakari talked with Paula and it seems that John told her that if we think we would be able to get to at least 150 m deep, then it would be still worthwhile to get these all fixed and extend our stay and if it is not possible, then we should scrap the drilling project. We are still optimistic here in the camp and Mike later in the evening left with the SPRS guys back to Kinnvika. In the meanwhile Janne had flown back to Longyear in the return flight and we were told that he would try to arrange a chopper for Mike ASAP. But today is a holiday so is the coming Saturday, as it happens to be some Norwegian holiday and so we were told that the shops in Longyear would be probably more or less closed and most of the people would be away for the weekend and so we got to be a bit patient for Mike’s trip and it seems it could be as late as Monday for the chopper to arrive but we shouldn’t discount the chances of having it sooner. Tonight we are having stronger wind about 8-10 m/s. So, it was a bit waiting and watching how things will unfold as there was not much we could do!

Friday May 2nd  – Emilie

Today the wind has been a bit strong with snow getting blown around. So, Veijo, Rickard, Olli and others that had made plans to work had to abandon them and just sit in the kitchen tent while some of them went back to their own sleeping tents. There has been no news from Janne yet regarding the flights arrangement for Mike who now is in Kinnvika. Piotr made a call to Hornsund to get info about the weather for the next few days and was told that there was a potentially low pressure big storm system developing and that it could get worse from tomorrow onwards with winds reaching hurricane force. After hearing this, Veijo decided that we should pack and secure all our gear and get back to Kinnvika rather than be trapped in a big storm. So we packed the essential stuff that we needed to take along right away to Kinnvika and the remaining were packed and put inside the kitchen tent in order of priority, meaning, the leftover personals would be put first and then the scientific gear and so on and the drill equipment were put together in boxes at the drill site. So when people get back later to retrieve things for us and if they are not able to get them all, then it is so that they know what the priority luggage are and would get them for us. It looks more and more that lot of work is affected by all these storms on the glacier and a whole lot of time and energy are spent just in taking care of gear and survival related matters. 

 Saturday May 3rd  – Emilie

Everyone in the camp was up quite early as it was decided last evening that we shall all go back to Kinnvika. We dug up all the snowmobiles and sledges as they have been covered with snow drifts for the past one and a half days. All this time the wind was still strong and coming from the southwest initially but changed to NNE by the time we left and a storm looked imminent. Later we went to the drill site and pulled down the entire drill tent and its framework and put them in their respective covers but left the bottom part of the drill tent frame as it is and secured all of them as best as we could by putting the tent cover as a protection and tying a rope around and put the extra wood and snow blocks on top so that the cover over the equipment would not get blown away. About this time we found that one of the scooters was not working and now had only 4 working skidoos instead of 5 to transport 10 people and some gear and now had to alter our plans on how to get back to Kinnvika. It was decided that 2 members from the group will have to sit on the sledges along with some light baggage and so, Bartek and Venkata volunteered for that. It was so that Veijo and I were on the 1st scooter, Sakari and Olli were on the 2nd scooter with Venkata and some luggage on the sledge, Rickard and Laura on the 3rd scooter with Bartek on the sledge and on the last scooter it was Piotr and Adrian. We left the camp at 15:30 with a sharp feeling of sadness but with the hope that we would come back to drill. After an hour or so we reached the foot of the glacier and the weather was almost the opposite of how it was on the glacier. It was quite calm and not much clouds or wind and some sunshine. When we looked back at the glacier there was this dark cloud hanging over it. It seems that Vestfonna has its own rules and its own weather system. On our way we saw some Svalbard reindeer and we stopped for a brief while to look at them and take some pictures. Those reindeer were quite different to the ones we have in Lapland, in the sense that they are stockier and shorter. Veijo was later telling us that this had been the best conditions by far, at least from the foot of the glacier on to Kinnvika, when compared to all his previous trips to the glacier. And the funny thing was after we arrived at Kinnvika we had reindeer meat for dinner! In the meantime the SPRS guys had made the Sauna ready, and after their sauna they came in to the kitchen and told us there was a polar bear and her cub about 600m from our huts. We all came out to see them and it was so exciting to see them. A little while after we took our photos, Lasse and Per-olof went on their skidoos and chased them away. Later we all had Sauna and we were able to get the temperature to 47°C in there and it was the first body wash we had in more than 3 weeks. Everyone enjoyed the Sauna experience. And we still were waiting to get more info from Longyear regarding the helicopter schedules.

The drill equipment covered with the tent cover after it was taken down after we received the storm warning. (photo by Laura Arppe)

 
We saw some
Svalbard reindeer on our way back to Kinnvika.
(photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

 A polar bear and her cub were sighted later in the evening after our dinner at Kinnvika.

(photo by Sakari Kankaanpää)

Sunday May 4th  – Venkata

Today has been quite sunny with blue sky and almost no wind. It seems the weather problems are usually only on the glacier but Kinnvika seems to be some kind of oasis where it is nice most of the time irrespective of how it is at other places! Today was a day of getting things repaired and some of the skidoos needed that. On one of them a bogey needed to be changed and on others there were smaller but important repairs to be done and Piotr and the SPRS guys took the lead in dealing with them and the rest of us helped them whenever they needed us. One skidoo needed extra parts to be transported from Longyearbyen, so it was set aside. Many of us dried our clothes and sleeping bags in the Sauna hut. We had a chance to charge the Iridium today and Emilie talked with Anna and updated her of our present situation. Also heard news that there is a chopper scheduled for tomorrow and Mike would be able to fly out. Things are looking bright!

 

 

Monday May 5th  – Emilie

 

This morning heard that there would be a chance that the chopper could fly to Kinnvika at around 11:30 am and Mike packed his stuff ready to leave any time. But unfortunately we later got a message from the Airlift people that they had to cancel the flight because of bad weather in Longyear and said that they will try to fly to Kinnvika again tomorrow at 11am. It has been cloudy and windy at Kinnvika as well. Earlier in the day, the other groups left for their radar measurements and snow pit sampling. Laura, Lasse, Per-Olof and I went to a nearby lake to sample snow in a pit we dug. Everybody had another sauna today after dinner.

 

 

Tuesday May 6th  – Venkata

 

Learnt today that there will be no chopper coming to Kinnvika because the weather at Longyearbyen is still bad. Looks like there is not much of a chance left for Mike to go and get back with all these weather delays. The prospects of ice core drilling are looking bleak right now if Mike can’t go and get back before this weekend. Tried working on zap email data transmission using Iridium but it still gives us the same old problem. I will have to contact them after I get back to Rovaniemi. After our radio talk with the group on the glacier, we learnt that all of them were getting back to Kinnvika sometime in the night or by early morning and later tomorrow we shall have a group meeting about the state of our project. Also in the evening we took out the shallow ice core drill that was left behind here last summer and Laura, Emilie, Sakari and I got together and tested it outside the main hut, and it was working quite well. At least there seems to be one drill that works!

 

 

 

Sakari cutting logs of wood with the ever reliable Husqvarna. (photo by Venkata Gandikota)

 

Wednesday May 7th, the end of hope.   – Emilie

Venkata, Laura and I were chatting today in the morning and we told each other that we all had the same nightmare last night that someone they knew died. Somehow something was ending (our hopes?) in our unconscious mind.

Laura and Venkata did a bit of cleaning up of the floors in the rooms in the main hut and the Kitchen room and floor were cleaned by Laura and I. We also moved the food stock to a colder place at it started to melt in its previous location. Also some of us cleared up the snow near the entrances to the huts and near the kitchen window. I made a call to John and discussed with him about the current and future plans regarding the project. Later in the afternoon everyone involved in the spring expedition gathered in the kitchen room in the main hut and discussed the possibilities ahead with respect to the ice core drilling and it was decided that the drill project shall be cancelled since the weather was making it quite difficult to get the helicopter and the season was also getting extended into warmer weather. Veijo also said that the weather had seriously affected their own projects as well.  We also noted that we should maintain the scooters in good working condition for the group of 5 German researchers who will arrive next week.

The plan for tomorrow is to have all of Veijo’s group leave for Vestfonna in the morning, if the weather is good. Also, I suggested that we all have a group photo with all the spring expedition members before the others leave for the glacier. It was decided that we shall do that tomorrow morning before they leave. Also the plan was Mike and Sakari shall go to the camp site on Vestfonna along with Veijo’s group and they will properly pack all the drill equipment in their original boxes and get back before Sunday as we might be flying out on that day to Longyearbyen when the German group arrives for their research activities. I made a list of what should be the priority for them to get back from the camp site and what could be left back for now so that they can be flown by the helicopter later to Kinnvika and then if we want to leave them at the Kinnvika station for next spring or get them sent via the polish ship Horizont. It was also decided that we shall be leaving Kinnvika to Longyear on the 11th and so we have to reschedule our flights according to that and also see if we need to book any accommodation once we get to Longyearbyen. I called Anna to talk about this but got her voice mail instead.

  

At the group meeting where the decision was made to scrap the ice core drilling.

(photo by Venkata Gandikota)

 

Thursday May 8th  – Venkata

Veijo and the rest of the group who were thinking of going to Vestfonna didn’t go since the weather was not good on the glacier. It was decided that if it looks good tomorrow morning, then they would immediately leave for the glacier. The weather at Kinnvika was windy but alright. Adrian, Bartek, Olli and I took a little hike to the nearby hill (Kinnberget) and got back in couple of hours. It had quite nice views from the top and Vestfonna was visible in a distance with some dark clouds hanging over it. After returning to Kinnvika, it was my turn to prepare dinner and I spiced the curry with some chicken masala that I bought along. Also I prepared rice and mixed it with fried onions and added a hint of garam masala and herbs to it. After dinner we all gathered outside and Olli took a picture of the whole team.

 

Friday May 9th  – Emilie
Sakari, Mike and the rest of the people who were supposed to go up the glacier left after dinner. Since we were most likely not going to meet some of the people before we leave on the 11th of May, We bid good bye to everyone and thanked them for their help during our stay and conveyed our pleasure in getting to know them on field. We are still here just waiting for Sunday to come.

 

Saturday May 10th  – Venkata

We decided today not to rebook our flights before flying from here and do it only after we touched down at Longyearbyen. Regarding the accommodation in Longyear, we thought of just showing up at the guesthouse instead of reserving ahead because if we reserve and are not able to go tomorrow, we are going to get charged anyway. Later in the night, Mike, Sakari, Bartek, Piotr and Olli got back from the glacier. We all did our final packing and made sure which gear we wanted to take along with us and which were to be left back at the station. Also, we heard that one of the big helicopters has some sort of mechanical breakdown. So, essentially there is only one small helicopter for transporting people and gear. Here’s hoping that things go as planned tomorrow!

 

Sunday May 11th  – Emilie

The chopper came on schedule with the first group of Germans and left for Vestfonna to get the drill gear and other scientific gear back to Kinnvika. But apparently it was quite foggy on the glacier and so the pilot got back without any gear and they will try again later today or tomorrow depending on when the next trip is scheduled. A lot depends on the weather conditions. Some days the weather is good at Longyear and bad at Kinnvika or it’s vice versa or sometimes it’s good at both places but is bad in between somewhere. If any of the above conditions are true, the pilot is not going to fly that day. Sakari, Venkata and I flew out with our personal gear to Longyearbyen. Feeling sad and tired, we went straight to the Spitsbergen guesthouse in the “town” deserted by tourists. Snow has melted a lot on the surrounding hills there and thousands of little auks (this black bird is the Kinnvika project emblem) were bringing spring from the top of the cliffs. Sakari rebooked our flights so that we will leave on Tuesday, may 13th on the afternoon flight to Tromsö.

The drilling group from left to right: Venkata, Mike, Emilie, Laura, Sakari & Piotr. Taken just before Venkata, Emilie and Sakari left for Longyearbyen. (photo by Per-Olof Edvinsson)

Monday May 12th  – Emilie

It’s been 24 hours that we haven’t seen the rest of the team and it we were already missing them. After such an adventure, we get quite attached to each other and accustomed to see the same people all the time. Mike, Laura, Olli-Pekka, Piotr and Bartek came back in the afternoon, happy to finally have a fresh beer in friendly company.

 

Tuesday May 13th  – Venkata

The day finally arrived when we had to leave Svalbard and we bid good bye to the others who were flying later and got to Tromsö sometime in the afternoon. Later we travelled back to Rovaniemi in Sakari’s van and reached our homes around 2 am in the night!

Sunday April 4

This is a bulletin based on a satellite phone call by Emilie.

We’re back at the Kinnvika Station at the moment. We had to leave the camp at the drilling site on the ice cap yesterday as there was a gale warning. We took our tents down and packed our gear. All the scientific gear was left well-packed there. Now we enjoy the “luxuries” of the station, warm (not hot) sauna and pancakes. We’ve also seen the first polar bear this year. She walked with a small cub along the coast.

Fortunately, it seems that the storm passed Kinnvika afterall. Now it’s about -7 deg and almost no wind. If the weather is good tomorrow, Mike takes a helicopter flight to Longyearbyen to fix the drill, and we drive back up to the camp. We’re still optimistic about the drilling if the weather allows us to get started.

Wednesday April 30

This is a bulletin based on a satellite phone call from Venkata

The weather hasn’t been in favour  of  the scientific work on the ice cap. Now we’ve found out the drill has been damaged during the transportation and needs to get repaired. Unfortunately, this cannot be done at the drilling site, and the time is running.  But we do everything we can to make this field season successful.

Tuesday April 22

This is a bulletin by John based on a satellite phone call from Venkata.

There has been a continuous storm since last Wednesday, and that had prevented any work on the ice cap. Low temperatures (-15C and high winds 60 knots making life less than pleasant). There are 6 up on the ice (Venkata, Mike, Emilie, Laura, Sakari and Piotr). They have erected the pyramid living tents and the mess tent, but did not get the drill shelter made before the storm started. They will have to do this as soon as the wind calms enough to erect the tents, and then they should be able to work in most weather
conditions. It is very unfortunate that they did not manage to get the drill shelter made before the storm as the week of bad weather may be crucial in our attempts to reach the bedrock. -John

Friday April 18 2/2

This is a bulletin by John based on a satellite phone call from Sakari

Sufficient equipment has been brought up by scooter from the Kinnvika station to allow drilling
operations to be started. The weather continues mostly bad with extreme winds and low visibility. The team are confined to their tents for the moment but will commence drilling as soon as weather allows them to be outside.

Lack of contact over the weekend suggest that either weather is extremely bad, or most likely they have been too busy actually drilling. -John

Friday April 18 1/2

This is a bulletin based on a satellite phone call from Emilie
Finally, the camp is erected at the selected drill site. The camp is about 200 m downhill from the top of the ice cap, and thickness of the glacier is about 300 m here. There are two living tents and a mess tent but no drill tent yet. Now we also have a heater in the mess tent that makes life much nicer. It’s been stormy for many days now. The weather is still bad but we hope to get started with work soon.

Tuesday April 15

This is a bulletin by John based on a satellite call with Sakari, the drilling logistics coordinator:
Drill site is selected on the basis of radar survey done by Rickard. Mike is happy with the site and that the drill had a good chance of getting a nice core. Things are going relatively slowly due to continuing bad weather – limited visibility and winds, but nevertheless progress is being made. Certainly we would have taken the position we are in now at this time 1 week ago. – John