The polarvirus - almost as contagious as Corona

At the moment we are all struggling through the Corona crisis and I often think to myself that we are actually feeling exactly the same as we do on expeditions: you have to be careful, always make new decisions and never lose sight of the goal.

The Arctic changes you for life. Every step in this infinitely empty world of ice and wind, every breath in the biting cold, every small struggle, no matter how tedious, to reach the goal by another meter, all this puts us to the test, changes us. Especially in these crazy Corona days I am more convinced than ever that change is the great constant in our lives. We have to try new things to move forward. The Arctic has always kept such thoughts in my mind and that is why I am always drawn there. I have been working as a polar guide since 2004 and love to pass on the polar virus to other people - by the way, it is quite contagious, just like its unpleasant Corona colleague!

What happens to you out there, in the infinite white expanse, in the land under the constellation of the Big Bear, nobody can really say, it is an adventure every time. On all my North Pole tours I was impressed to see how strange life on the ice was for my guests at first, and how quickly most of them got used to it. After a few days you start to adapt. You adapt to the inevitability of moving forward only on skis and pulka, you learn to read the special conditions, you recognize the constantly changing terrain in a supposedly barren landscape. Pack ice alternates with compact ice fields, there are thin patches of ice, sometimes open water. Chaotic piles of raised pieces of ice that are particularly difficult to cross - in short: snow and ice formations in dozens of different shapes and sizes. Everything seems the same every day, and yet is always different.

The tour that I usually go on with guests covers about 120 kilometers on foot and on skis, normally about a week is enough for that. The journey leads via Oslo to Spitsbergen. From there we take an Antonow 74, a Russian short runway jet, to Barneo, a station floating in the ice at 89th latitude. The temporary runway is rebuilt every year in April by our Russian partners and its exact location varies from year to year. Once we have completed our march to the North Pole, a helicopter will pick us up from Barneo and take us back to the station, which will seem almost like a highlight of civilization...

The scales are changing, I swear, and really fast: Being on the road in the vastness of the Arctic Ocean is an experience of special dimensions. Afterwards you are a new person. Let's hope that the terrible pandemic will also make us see things differently, that we can change and at some point be proud of the new perspective.

Yours Thomas Ulrich