Power of the Ice
Power of the Ice
Posted by Dominic Hilton

Saturday, 25 Apr 2009 00:00

“I never, ever relax here”, says CAS Team Navigator Ann Daniels.

Standing on what appeared to be a solid ice pan yesterday and waiting for her colleagues to catch her up, she felt her legs moving in different directions.  Directly beneath her feet a crack was opening up and she had a foot on either side of it.

“I thought I was on solid ice and suddenly I was being forced into a wide straddle!’” she remembers.  “I managed to hop onto one side of the pan, but it shows how you can never trust what you’re standing on”.

Daniels says she never forgets the potential dangers surrounding her and treats the ice with respect.

“I never forget its power.  When the ice is in a benevolent state it can seem comforting – miles and miles of white all around you like a blanket.  But other days the ice makes a terrific noise when it cracks and breaks and then it seems angry”.

Daniels says when ice pans grind against each other, causing pressure ridges to burst upwards, the sheer power of what she’s witnessing is both awe-inspiring and frightening. 

‘I’ve seen huge blocks of ice pushed around like sugar cubes”, she says.  “I never trust it, but I feel I have a relationship with it.  You could say the ice has a huge, temperamental personality”.

Always in front of her colleagues, Daniels says the only time she has the luxury of thinking her own thoughts is on a calm day when the wind drops and she’s travelling across a flat ice pan. 

“Then, I pick a point in the distance, focus on it and allow my mind to wander just a little”, she says.  “I can feel calm in these moments, but not peaceful.  “I’m always aware that though it may seem quiet, there’s a lot going on around me.  The ice is always shifting, always restless”.

She adds that never being able to leave the danger behind her is exhausting over a substantial period of time.  Even at night, though she says the tent provides some comfort, the howls and the grinds of the ice continue, sometimes nearby, sometimes in the distance.

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