We only want to finish the expedition under the right conditions. Unfortunately we encountered some problems because Young Explorer, Saskia, damaged her eyes due to the suns bright reflection on the snow. The suns rays in this warming Arctic are so intense that they damaged Saskia's cornea and her eye's became irritable, sore and vision became blurred. This condition, called snowblindness is experienced by most mountaineers or Arctic explorers. It is not serious and treatment is easy. It was important for us to keep Saskia's eyes protected in the dark and soothe them with cool tea compresses. Given a little time and patience her eyes will improve.
For the team and myself it was a big disappointment. We were not able to continue our trek the last few days which meant we would not reach out end goal – the Magnetic Norh Pole. After calling a team meeting it was decided amongst us that the entire team would return to Resolute where we could support Saskia and contine to explore this Northern Nunavut Village.
We had a magnificent time on the ice. The YEPs were great and ready for the challenge. A few more days walking and the Magnetic North Pole would have been ours. But it wasn't meant to be!! Nevertheles what the YEPs and my team have experienced is beyond comprehension. We took on a magnificent challenge, we worked together as a team, we laughed, we cried, and experienced what few people can rarely do.
Our goals in the Pangaea Expedition are to leave a mark on the youth, to give them an experience and opportunities that they will never forget. Perhaps we didn't make the Pole but we have succeeded in our goal to show these youths one of the rare beauties of our planet.
The Arctic is warm, too warm. There is open water everywhere, the ice is 30cms thick when it should be 5 meters. The polar bears are migrating further and further north. There are signs of dark silt pollution on the ice causing melting puddles. This beauty in diminishing rapidly. The YEPs have seen it for themselves and can now understand what the scientists are saying. It's now up to them to share their Arctic experiences with their friends, families and people around them and try and save this vanishing beauty.
Saskia and 5 others returned to Resolute yesterday and myself and the rest of the team are waiting for weather conditions to impove before we will be able to join them.