The Frozen Five are back!
Top image: The Frozen Five are happy to be back from their 77 day-long skiing expedition. From left: Hella Garny, Lucas Girard, Mats Björkman, Ulli Neumann and Kim Senger. Photo: Eva Therese Jenssen/UNIS.
After 77 days, 1000 km on ski and one sunburn, the Frozen Five are back. Alive and kicking!
14 June 2007
Text: Eva Therese Jenssen
Kim Senger (Czech Republic), Hella Garny and Ulli Neumann (Germany), Lucas Girard (France), and Mats Björkman (Sweden), traveled from Longyearbyen on March 29th and set course for Hornsund where they spent some time at the Polish research station. Then they skied to South Cape, before heading north, stopping at the ship “Vagabond” on the east coast, then set course for Verlegenhuken – the northernmost point on Spitsbergen. On the way back to Longyearbyen they stopped at Austfjordneset and visited the trappers who stayed there this winter. Last evening the five walked into Longyearbyen, tired but happy. Their goal had been accomplished.
Today they met their fans and friends for lunch in the UNIS cafeteria and had time to talk about their trip and impressions. Maybe the biggest surprise for the group was that it wasn’t the physical challenges that took their toll, but rather the psychological ones.
– Being in a group for such a long time requires that you are quite flexible, Lucas says. – We each had to eat and sleep at the same times as the others and we had to be skiing when we had said we would, and there were days it was hard to accept that you couldn’t just do what you wanted, he says.
Mats agrees. – It was certainly a bigger challenge than encountering a storm. A storm ends after a few days, but we had to stay together for over two months. There were no moments where we were threatened by bad weather or polar bears, and thus the group dynamics were enhanced, Mats says.
-This trip can be characterized as the sum of small efforts; putting one ski in front of the other, Lucas says.
André the star
However, there were many perfect moments too. Kim remembers being stuck in a white-out for several days, where they couldn’t see very much. Then the fog lifted and they were staring at a big rock in the landscape.
– André was just staring at the rock forever, like he had never seen such a thing before. You could say he was stoned by the vision, Kim says and laughs.
André is the dog and actually the sixth member of the skiing group, and he soon became the star of the team.
– He was actually the centre of intelligence in the group, Ulli says with a smile. André was also the only one who got injured during the trip.
– He got a sun burn on his nose tip, but he is getting treatment for it now, Ulli assures us. André is currently resting in the dog yard where he gets a royal treatment.
Along the way the Frozen Five has collected snow samples for isotope analysis and gathered grouse droppings for a biologist.
Now that the trip is over, they will give several presentations to school classes, both in Norway and abroad. They will also make a movie to show school kids, in order to motivate them to study Arctic issues.
– It feels better to share our experiences from the trip with others, and especially with school kids. The skiing expedition was a rather egoistical undertaking, but now I feel it was worth it when I get to share it with other people to teach them about the Arctic, Kim says.
And the five want to extend their thanks to UNIS and the people of Longyearbyen and Hornsund for helping them out along the way.
– We couldn’t have made it without all the support we got, Ulli concludes.