Saturday, 16 April 2016

Iceman Arctic ski race

So this race has started. It started yesterday and they all got to the first camp on an island called Farne Island.

Route so far to Farne Camp - 3 more days to go
They started at 8.00 am with me firing a bear scarer from a shot gun which went 'pop'. There are four teams. One who is much faster that the others - and the rest.

Constable Point camp on the morning of the race
There are quite a few of Paul's staff on this event to make up the numbers. Paul is in a team of 3 staff, there are two Tangent expedition leaders running two teams and Beth has two clients who she is trying to mold into an effective team. My team is on the skidoos playing safety men - much less strenuous!

Beth final packing of kit just before the start
Simon making his way to the starting line
Everyone made good time yesterday - the leaders were 1 1/2 hours ahead - got in at 3.00pm and the rest near each other. Everyone was in Farne camp by 5.00pm.

Line up at start at 8.00 am
Teams setting off for the 25km day one
We did jobs round camp after they had gone and then went to put up the finishing flag and bear fence at the camp. We then drove back the route to find them and were surprised to see the leaders coming across the sea ice having made good time.

Teams emerging out of the valley at about half way
Paul and other teams on decent back to the sea ice
Everyone tried really hard to make good time, but I reccon that we'll have trouble with blisters and each day will get harder with steeper ascents. I'm sure we will have some people drop out.

Leading team near finish with other teams in the distance, about 1 1/2 hours behind
We didn't camp with them last night, partly due the poor weather coming in and it would be a bit boring sitting in a tent for a day and partly because Matt the camera man, had to charge his batteries - what a good excuse!

The finish flag at Farne camp
Digging in for a windy night
The weather is poor today so lie up for the group. 37 kph winds and drifting snow. Tomorrow has no snow forecast, but the winds are increasing, so it will be a tough day for everyone and I'll have to be careful to make sure we don't let them go out in dangerous conditions.
Mike preparing to go out into the storm
Just got back from visiting the group out at Farne camp. Matt the camera man who is recording the race for Berghaus, wanted to get some bad weather shots at camp. It was total white out conditions on the way out, driving into the wind and I was just using GPS to keep us on course. It was a bit of a zig zag route out there as I struggled to keep straight. I made us all drive in a tight square formation with each of us looking out the the person next to you.  If anyone was to stop for any reason you could loose someone in seconds.

Strong winds at Farne camp
Happy tent couple - Lizzy and Debs
Beth getting supplies out of the pulk sledge
Mat filming in difficult conditions
The winds have increased still further tonight, if the weather stays this bad, the group may be pinned down for another day.


  1. Sounds like a nice change of pace from your usual workload especially if you get to "go home" at night! Reminds me of running safety for seakayaking races using a RIB.
    Stay safe out there, brother.

  2. Great photos, Phil, thank you.
    Watch out for those pesky polar bears ... make sure you wash the Peanut Butter off your gloves and stay safe. Looking forward to catching up when you get home.
    Take care.
    Phil Eccles