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Pole to Pole

Day 2: Greenland to Ny Alesund

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleJudging from his expression Spitsbergen is not on Russ's regular beat and he seems as surprised as any of us to see the sweeping sides of a mountain range emerge above the clouds to the east. From the map these look to be the peaks of Albert I Land, and turning the little aircraft south we follow the coastline and descend through the angry, drifting remains of the storm clouds into King's Fiord, where glaciers roll down to the sea and fragments of ice speckle the dark water. Dwarfed by the massive landscape two golf ball early-warning domes, a couple of tall concrete structures and a cluster of brightly painted houses mark the settlement of Ny Alesund (New Alesund). We have crossed two time zones in our two-and-a-half-hour flight and passed south of latitude 80 degrees.

At Ny Alesund we rendezvous with David Rootes, our adviser on Arctic survival from the Scott Polar Research Institute, Engineer Geir Paulsen, the organizer of our land transport, and Patti, Nigel's camera assistant. Basil Pao, stills photographer and last member of our team, is to meet us in Tromsų. It's soon clear from the swirling snowstorms that sweep across the fiord and from the experiences David and Patti recount from their journey up to meet us that Greenland and the North Pole have been a picnic compared with what lies ahead.

But first the pleasure of a shower and clean clothes and a drink in the only bar in Ny Alesund. Everyone seems subdued, but this is apparently the result of multiple hangovers from a party held here last night to toast the news of our arrival at the Pole.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 2
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Ny Alesund
  • Book page no: 15

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