How Does it Feel to Walk on the Arctic Pack Ice ?

We often think that when going for a walk in the Arctic, the pack-ice is nice and flat. It is true, the North Pole is situated in the middle of an ocean and we do tend to think that the sea is completely flat. But, of course, in actual fact, it is not. There can easily be a height difference of several metres in an ocean, up to 6 or 7 metres even. But the problem with pack-ice and the Arctic Ocean is that as the Earth rotates, the ice builds up pressure, making the surface anything but flat in the Arctic.

If you can walk for an hour without having to negotiate either open water or a compression ridge, which is like a small mountain of 80 cm to 1 metre high or even up to 2 or 3 metres high, you are really, really lucky.

This is why, when you set off for the Arctic, you have to really want to haul a sledge for hours on end, sometimes over a terrain which is nothing but a jumble of big blocks that look like rocks of stone but actually made of ice. As a matter of comparison, it is kind of like having pebbles everywhere with nowhere to put your feet down flat on the ground. Imagine above this having a sledge behind you with a mind of its own and it not wanting to follow the path you want it to. Only then can you understand that walking in the Arctic is indeed very, very hard work.


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