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Christina Franco North Pole Solo – Expedition Wrap-up
- April 9, 2010
- 9 Comments
GLOBAL EXPLORER, and conservationist Christina Franco has been collected from the Arctic Ocean, after 30 expedition days. A wide open lead (passage of open water – see image below) blocked the route; after a long deliberation with several polar experts the difficult decision was made for Christina to be collected from the ice by the next resupply plane.
After returning through Canada to her home in London, Christina reflects on her expedition, and her decision to leave the ice:
It is a week since I have been pulled of the ice and only a few days since I have returned home to my flat in London. It is amazing how quickly what you consider normal changes and how quickly your body forgets and heals from the hardships of the Arctic environment. There is no sign of the cracked and bloody skin on the tips of all my fingers and I do not keep checking for my sled behind me. I don’t find it odd to walk around barefoot and I do not miss slipping into my frozen sleeping bag. I do miss the endless light and the magical meander through a world that seems impossible.
A week ago I had a sleepless night as I watched the clouds come lower, the fog from the opening lead get darker and listened to the ice cracking around me. I was not sure that the plane would be able to land the following day and if it did not manage to I would have to keep enough in reserve to continue walking even if that walking would take me on an aimless wonder away from the pole as I followed the lead in front of me eastward.
I was relieved when the plane landed. That relief was multiplied many times when from the air I saw the size of the lead I was searching for an end to. In order to keep walking alongside it the previous days I had to believe that it would narrow and that I would get across it finally making some progress North. Faced with its actual size I thought of how demoralized I would have been if I had been faced with its size after walking another three days with no prospect of a pick-up for several weeks instead of from the safety of the twin Otter’s back seat.
The return journey home was punctuated by a stop at every connection. For one reason or another, what could have taken me 24 hours to travel took me 5 days. I had been so resolved to make it to the pole or at least as far as Barneo and the Russians could get me that I had left no spare clothes in Resolute Bay and was travelling in my salopettes and merino long johns and polar boots. The unusually warm weather slowly boiled me and fermented the stale smell my clothes had acquired. I was able to patch together bits and pieces from the few open shops over the Easter holidays and even had to resort to buying a woman’s shoes from her in the parking lot of the 24-hour Kmart that closed early for Easter 1 minute before we arrived at the door.
We always say that the journey is more valuable than the destination, but few times are you slapped with the reality of this as I have been over the past month. Faced with the Awesomeness of the forces of nature and the extremities of the world we live in, I can no longer feel that my pursuit has the same value. I feel humbled and privileged to have been allowed to travel through such a place, to return intact, and to return to tell about it.
I have had a chance to read through all the comments you have sent and I have been doubly humbled. Thank you so much for each and every one of them, I know that they helped me take that extra step when it did not seem possible to do so.
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Christina’s North Pole Solo Expedition supports two Charities Motor Neurone Disease Association and Save the Rhino; find out more and donate: http://christinafranco.com/charity/
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