September 2012 - Arctic Kingdom Polar Expeditions

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BLOG: Archive for September, 2012


September 21st, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Gear

The arctic summer season is over, and with that comes a unique opportunity to purchase gently used winter clothing and equipment at significantly discounted rates. It is worn for 3 to 4 weeks and returned for cleaning looking good as new! Premium brands include Canada Goose, Outdoor Research, and Baffin Footwear. Get yours before they sell out! HOURS: Sept 26-28: Wednesday – Friday: 9am – 6pm Sept 29: Saturday: 9am – 1pm Sunday: Closed Address: 215 Traders Blvd. East, Unit 18, Mississauga, ON, L4Z 3K5, Canada Can't make it during these hours? Give us a call and place your order by phone and we will ship it to you. Phone: 416 322 7066 For more information on our gear please visit:  

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 3

September 20th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, AK PRODUCTS & SERVICES, Client Reports, Current Events, Current Trips, FEATURED, Featured Trip, IN THE NEWS, TRIPS, Trips

"Don't open your mouth when you look up!"

Day Three - By Liz Fleming As we climbed out of our tents the first morning, the air was damp with mist.  Although Tom and Mike were a little apologetic  about the lack of sunshine, we were all so pumped about heading out for our first trip on the ice, we hardly noticed. After a big breakfast, we gathered at the komatiks and loaded up for a trip to the bird cliffs, a particularly great area for Jens, an ornithologist and biology professor from Germany.  He was my komatik partner and I felt very lucky to be able to listen to his commentary as we headed out, bumping along the ice behind the snowmobile. I could tell I was going to go home considerably better informed about birds. “The best advice I can give you,” Tom told us when we arrived, clambered out of the komatiks and stared up at the sheer cliff faces ahead, where hundreds of birds wheeled and screamed, “is don’t open your mouth when you look up!” Wise counsel.

Birds of a feather


Murre eggs

The guides warned us often to watch where we stepped – the ice was solid but there were cracks.  Our Aussie buddy Brett learned the hard way.  Looking up as he focused on a shot, Brett put his feet too close to the edge and plunged into the water up to his armpits.  In just moments, the guides had hauled him out – no mean feat, as Brett’s a tall, solid man.  Wet but none the worse for wear, he was helped to a komatik and offered a quick ride back to camp.  In a display of true Aussie toughness and good humour, Brett opted to stay and seemed to dry out remarkably quickly. After a return to camp for a hot lunch, we made our first trip out to the floe edge – a world unlike anything we’d seen anywhere…ever.  Pulling our small chairs from the komatiks, we moved to the edge of the ice where we sat, stunned into near silence by the vastness of the water. As we watched, cameras in hand, we played with photographing the King eider ducks that swooped past in huge flocks, their images reflected in the mirror-like surface of the water. Suddenly, though very quietly, our guides signaled us to come. As binoculars were passed from hand to hand we saw – perhaps a kilometer away – a polar bear, watching us as intently as we were watching him.  Against the brilliant white background, his fur seemed cream-coloured – almost yellowish – and he was huge.  And we were in his backyard. It was an afternoon of watching, of breathing in the cool, clear air, of trying to capture the size of our new world with cameras that suddenly seemed inadequate.  When it was time to reload the komatiks and head for camp, we were stunned to see that it was long past 8pm.  In a land where the sun never sets, we were quickly losing our sense of time. On the way back to camp, a seal appeared on ice, sitting stock still beside its hole.  Our guides stopped and Cornelius, whose camera outclassed the rest of ours, climbed out to see if he could get a shot. Taking slow, deliberate steps, Cornelius moved closer to the seemingly unconcerned seal, clicking shots as he went.  He didn’t get very far before the seal – who had actually been hyper-aware of his approach the whole time - turned, slid into the water and disappeared.  I suddenly realized how incredibly difficult hunting seals must be and how ridiculous it was to worry about the possibility of mass slaughtering.  Seals are far too quick. After our long day on the ice, we’d have been happy to eat anything that stayed still on our plates, but were thrilled by the feast Chef Andrew had waiting for us.  Hot carrot and ginger soup, rare lamb chops and a decadent chocolate dessert topped with berries. How he managed that, in the middle of nowhere, I can’t imagine. A few hours later, stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, I snuggled into bed in my little yellow tent and listened to gentle rain falling.  I’d have been happy to stay there forever.  

So…what’s it really like? – Day # 2

September 13th, 2012 | By | Filed in AK NEWS, Client Reports, Current Events, FEATURED, IN THE NEWS, Recent Trips, TRIPS, Trips, Uncategorized

Day 2 - By Liz Fleming Packing up for a week on the polar sea ice is like outfitting an army for a major campaign.  It’s an exercise in memory – anything you forget, you’ll have to live without - there’s no dashing out to the corner store for that extra quart of milk. Fortunately for us, the Arctic Kingdom team proved to be masters of organization. Not only had they made sure we’d brought everything on the list they’d provided, but they also rented us anything we didn’t own (and really…who has a stash of Arctic-style gear hanging in the closet, next to their shorts and t-shirts?) but also, when it was discovered that one part of the group had forgotten their oh-so-vital big warm rubber boots in Ottawa, the Arctic Kingdom team managed to scrounge replacements. We gathered in the lobby, marveling at the sheer bulk of our gear, then piled mountains of stuff into the hotel’s bus and headed for shore to load the komatiks (sleds pulled by skidoos) for the expedition north to camp.  As we met our Inuit guides and helped them to load a seemingly endless collection of bags, boxes and coolers, I started to get a sense of the size of the project – it was like loading a wagon train for an epic journey.   The hauling and lifting worked up a sweat.  Decked out in acres of Canada Goose down – coats, pants, mitts – and wool lined, knee-high rubber boots, we were roasting like Thanksgiving turkeys and silently wondering if we’d need it all.  After all, the temperature in Pond Inlet that day wasn’t cold – not even close to cold. Tom Lennartz, Expedition Director (and secret mind reader) laughed at our glowing faces. “You might be baking right now, but later on, you’re going to be happy you have every bit of that gear.” By the time we stowed the last bag and box and climbed into the komatiks ourselves, I was zipped and tucked into more clothing than I’d ever worn before, and thought I was ready.  Guide Mike Beedell knew I wasn’t. He pulled the strings on my parka hood tight, framing my face in coyote fur so only my ski goggles peered out. Some hours later, as the komatiks rocked and rolled and the wind whipped across an unbroken sweep of sea ice, I was grateful for those tightened hood strings and glad of every ounce of down that protected me from the cold and wet. In the Arctic, staying warm and dry is key – once you’re chilled, the fun’s over. I’d never given much thought to cracks in the surface of ice before, but they became a huge entertainment feature of our trip to the camp.  Because komatiks rest on long wooden skis, they can glide easily over almost any split.  Snowmobiles are another thing.  After pushing our komatiks carefully across the big cracks, our guides then backed up, gunned their snowmobile engines and leapt across the open water like Olympic long-jumpers.  It was simultaneously terrifying and fascinating – a madly exciting spectator sport.

Pond Inlet - Stunning Landscape

After nearly seven hours of travel across the frozen polar sea, punctuated by the snowmobile stunts and the occasional tea-and-pee breaks, we arrived at camp. Dwarfed by towering icebergs, the collection of white and yellow tents looked impossibly, almost hilariously tiny in the vast sweep of the ice.  We were home – and like any good home, ours was warm, and inviting, with the smell of a hot dinner wafting from the dining tent.  

I made it!


ABC Nightline – Unicorn of the Sea with Arctic Kingdom

September 3rd, 2012 | By | Filed in TRIPS

This past June, Arctic Kingdom was contacted by ABC to take them to the Arctic to film the narwhal and Inuit people of Baffin Island.  They got much more than they expected and put a full half hour episode together on their trip to the Pond Inlet floe edge which originally aired on Aug 21, 2012. A large crack formed and the AK base camp on ice needed to be torn down one day earlier than planned.  Watch their adventure here:

Part 1 – Tracking Elusive Narwhals in the Arctic

Part 2 - Close Call on the Arctic's Melting Sea Ice

Part 3 - Climate Change Threatens Arctic Life


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