Posted by Dominic Hilton

Thursday, 07 May 2009 15:10

The Catlin Arctic Survey Team of Pen Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels are back to a more normal schedule of sledge hauling and drilling, after the long awaited physical and mental boost of the re-supply.

“The long wait for the latest re-supply was very hard”, Hadow admits now they’re all feeling better.  “We spent a lot of the time sleeping once we became unable to do anything useful on the survey front.  Being very hungry, cold and without hot food has few redeeming features but now we’re on the move again we’re reflecting on how we did kill the time quite effectively.  Mostly with a series of rather intense conversations”.

The team were tent bound on emergency food rations for ten days as poor weather prevented the twin otter plane landing on the runway they’d prepared alongside their camp.

As Hartley explains, ten days of enforced lack of physical activity allowed their tongues to exercise themselves.

“Almost no subject escaped us because there really is absolutely nothing else to do in those circumstances”, he says.   “At the beginning of the week we talked mostly about the expedition, which we don’t often have time to do because we’re always on the move.  Then we moved onto school days and then we found ourselves taking on some really meaty subjects.  Anything and everything came up.  Corporal punishment, adoption and Nigel Mansell’s trophy cabinet are the ones that stick in my mind”.

The heavier subject matter was interspersed with random chatter.  Hartley lists mackerel fishing, Café Nero, exam results and the smell of his sleeping bag among the topics of conversation. 

“We also talked about snoring”, he remembers.  “Oddly, we realised that we all complained about each other snoring at the beginning of the expedition.  But then we realised that we’d all stopped doing it.  Why that is none of us know”.

Sounding as though they’d have done credit as guests on a late night discussion programme, Hartley also reveals the team talked about personal relationships, personal failures and ‘whether life ever ends.

“But we couldn’t do current affairs”, he adds ”because we had absolutely no idea what was going on in the outside world.  That’s still the same, but the tent was our whole world for ten, long days.”

Hadow made a pack of cards from his notebook which also helped pass the time, though the team became increasingly lethargic as the days stretched on. 

“But in spite of the cold, hunger and boredom, it wasn’t as miserable as it seems’, Hartley concludes.  “In fact that enforced time together in the tent was uplifting in its own way.  Especially now it’s over”. 


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