If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
Henry David Thoreau
The turbulent roller coaster ride of the last two weeks ended abruptly yesterday with the disheartening announcement by Norpolex that the North Pole season, and any travel to Barneo, had been cancelled.
In an emotion-laden meeting held with the polar guides and their stunned clients yesterday afternoon in Longyearbyen, the Norpolex logistics team and a representative from the Canadian pilots explained that a combination of various factors - including several days of inclement weather predicted for the immediate future - had forced them to cancel the season for the first time in the 25 year history of Barneo.
No one wants this situation to be as it is and everyone involved is losing on some level: Norpolex, the clients and their support teams, the guides, and all travel companies supporting these "trips of a lifetime." The fact that this whole fiasco began due to political turmoil between the governments of Russia and the Ukraine makes it even more difficult to stomach.
Still, after a bit of sleep and some time to digest the facts, one is reminded of the sheer dependancy that we ultimately have on nature. If the polar regions were easy to access, then we wouldn't discover them still today in their pristine state. Politics aside, it is ultimately the weather which forced the Canadian pilots to make their difficult decision. It is ultimately nature which imposes the short April window each year on the Barneo/Norpolex teams. It is ultimately nature which seduces the wide variety of humans who wish to attempt a challenging expedition at the top of the world.
The North Pole has shown its omnipotent side and has reminded us that it sometimes takes a bit more than technology, money, ego or power to access its remote location.
Sometimes it takes exponential amounts of patience and humility.
Next season, some of these disappointed expedition participants will find the audacity to regroup and reattempt a new North Pole expedition. For those among them who will succeed, the victory of reaching 90° North will taste sweeter than one could ever imagine.
We at Polar Experience would like to thank Mathias and Virgile Dufour for having shown class and elegance in their acceptance of the situation as it has evolved. We are honoured to have been supported by Eric Bonnem and his team at Expeditions Unlimited for their expertise and flexibility on all travel arrangements. To the amazing and generous folks at Mary-Ann's Polarrigg: tusen takk!
And to Dixie: you remain the Master Polar Guide of our dreams. Here's to the next adventure!