Nathan preps the ship

by Guest Blogger

June 21, 2005

I admit to knowing little about how to walk around safely on a glacier, being from Kansas, where we have a sum total of zero glaciers. Yet the task of ensuring that the Arctic Sunrise has the necessary equipment aboard to provide for the safety of anyone going out on glaciers fell into my lap, as my role in this project involves general logistical preparation in support of the ship. Thankfully, I had John Hoelscher from the One World Expedition at my disposal, a veteran of polar adventures. Drawing on his deep experience in Antarctica and north of the Arctic Circle, we set about preparing the Arctic Sunrise for the specific tasks we envision undertaking in Greenland this summer.

Overall, the ship is always provisioned with personal equipment for a variety of excursive purposes, including the basics for camping, climbing, small-craft boating, and, of course, being an ice-class vessel, arctic gear.

What the ship does not necessarily carry at all times is equipment needed for the specifics of this summer’s journey: specialized gear designed to provide for the safety of folks visiting polar melt-ponds on remote glaciers. The surfaces of glaciers are highly varied, from smooth fields to tightly compressed fields of deep crevasses and rugged formations, and they’re quite dangerous. Even if you’re not planning to spend the night, you need to be prepared to, as weather can change dramatically, hindering flight options.

So with John’s guidance, we reviewed what the ship had on board that would be used for our safety and travel kits, planning on being able to provide for a party of up to 7 people on the ice:

  • Climbing Ropes

  • Prussik Slings

  • Crampons

  • Bod Harnesses

  • Ice Axes

  • Snow Shovels

  • Ice Screws

  • Snow Pickets

  • Carabiners

  • Jumars

  • Pulleys

  • Figure 8s

  • Helmets

  • Cook Sets

  • Heat Pack Heaters

  • Charcoal Elements

  • Distribution Tubes

  • First Aid Kits

  • Ski Goggles

  • Sorrel Boots and wool liners

  • Gaiters

  • High Insulation Pants

  • Jackets

  • Body warmers

  • Heat pads

  • Stuff Sacks

  • Teddysuits – Fibrepile

  • Jackets – Fibrepile

  • Pants – Fibrepile

  • Wind Pants

  • Sleeping Bags

  • Backpacks

  • Thermal Underwear

  • Balaclavas

  • Fibrepile Gloves

  • Polypro Gloves

  • Earhead Hats

  • Polar Caps

  • Gloves

  • Mittens

  • Socks

  • Nylon Bags (with drawstring)

  • Cook sets

  • Fuel cans

  • Repair kits

  • Brown biscuits

  • Matches

  • Pots and pans

  • Spoons

  • Flares

A pretty good start – the ship had almost everything we need, and plenty of it. After counting up the number of each of these items available, we then searched our warehouse for what we needed to flush out our list. We sent the following to Amsterdam:

  • 1 Large Backpack (for the rescue kit)

  • 2 Static climb ropes, 1 dynamic climb rope

  • 4 Harnesses

  • 7 7mm leg-length prussiks

  • 7 7mm waist-length prussiks

  • 1 Pulley

  • 8 Locking carabiners

  • 3 12-point crampons

  • 5 6-point (instep) crampons

  • 1 Ice hammer

  • 5 4m long webbing lengths

  • 2 Belay plates

  • 4 Rock pitons

  • 4 Hand-held VHF radios

  • 1 Wire ladder

  • 7 Sleeping mats

  • 2 4-season arctic tents

We needed to purchase only a few items on our list. We didn’t have an ice hammer on the shelf and we were fresh out of rock pitons! We also needed 5 bivy bags; I called to price them out and the good folks at Mountain Hardware donated them in support of the mission, which was mighty nice.

With this list complete and John joining the ship, we should be ready to visit some glacial environments safely and securely during the tour.


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