Longyearben…dernier sas avant la banquise.
Longyearbyen…last call before the pack ice
The weather was beautiful when we arrived above the Spitzberg islands yesterday before landing. And we were able to admire a landscape that seemed to arise from the mists of time. Mountain ranges covered with snow interspersed with glaciers, all surrounded by the sea. A sudden and fascinating introduction to the Great North. Imagine the Pyrenees with water all around them, for instance.
Rotations should begin on Tuesday for the four wintering crew members and take place all week perhaps even at the beginning of next week. Four rotations total will enable to bring by air food supplies, equipment and men. After five months of retreat on Tara, The crew members who are leaving will meet the new members, the changing team for the last polar winter of this drift.
Between Longyearbyen and Tara, the small plane that will have to land on pack ice will cover 800 km. After unloading, the plane will return to Longyearbyen thanks to its stocked gasoline. Flown by experienced Canadian pilots, the mission is not an easy feat. The weather conditions, the ice runway, the plane autonomy, all these elements have to be taken into consideration with extreme subtlety and responsibility.
Meanwhile for the future wintering team, while the logistics staff is busy with flight preparations, Longyearbyen offers a cosy haven of peace. Temperatures are still 2°C during the day time. One can kill time in a very pleasant fashion before the great leap. For inside this fjord, one can feel that one is at the door of something else. Another world. A world that we know to be a threatened sanctuary.