Arrival at NEEM
Sverrir at the front of our kitchen tent. Luckily everything was intact inside.
Photo: Jim Hedfors, NEEM team.
After the attempt to fly into NEEM on Tuesday, the flight to NEEM today was successful. We departed Kangerlussuaq 8:25 on board Skier 94. Whether it was coincidence or planned by the 109th, we do not know, but four of the flight crew of six were the same individuals who flew us to NGRIP in 2007 where we got stuck together for three days in a blizzard. This crew has courage.
We landed at NEEM at 11:22. As the plane taxied into camp, all cargo was drifted out the rear. Then the put-in crew of five: Thomas, Gaël, Jim, Sverrir and J.P. left the plane. We went towards camp while the flight crew armed the starting rockets (ATO) on the plane. The snow was hard and crunchy, and we didn't sink in as we walked. At 11:52 the plane took off into the wind towards ENE using rocket start. Later inspection showed that the plane took off after leaving a 1.6 km long ski track. The ski tracks were 10 - 20 cm deep, which is a clear sign of a hard snow surface.
After the plane departed, we began to take in the surroundings. We were greeted by the chirpings of a little bird that flew around camp. What later became of the bird, we don't know. It was hard to recognize the camp we had left last year. Only the top of the four heavy sledges and the vehicles, we left on the surface last year, was visible. The hill on which we built the kitchen weatherport last year was gone, and the northern side of the kitchen was covered by heavy snow drifts. All pallets of cargo left last year were completely buried. Lars in Kangerlussuaq had provided us with personalized showels and they now became our primary tools.
We started digging. After 15 minutes we got access to the kitchen. Everything was as we left it last year. The kitchen weatherport was undamaged. We started our diesel generator at 13:30 to power the kitchen for melting snow and for heat. Digging went on all day until midnight. We had one of the tracked vehicles and the snowblower up and running by 17:00. Then the big sled carrying the two red fibreglass domed huts (tomatoes) was pulled out and parked next to the kitchen. We set up a dome tent so that everybody got a place to sleep. In the evening we opened the snow cave where three snowmobiles were parked last year. All snowmobiles were in good condition. The roof of the snowmobile cave was under 35 cm snow, which is a good indication of the snow accumulation since August last year. We had to postpone getting the other tracked vehicle up, as our hot air blower (Herman Nelson) started to play tricks on us.
We worked hard all the time with only short breaks for something to drink and microwave-heated slices of pizza from Kangerlussuaq, or just to get out of the wind. Temperature in the kitchen at 19:00: -16°C
Everybody went to bed at midnight feeling very tired and cold.
Weather all day: Blue sky, -27°C, winds at 5 - 7 m/s from ENE.
Field Leader, J.P. Steffensen
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