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A Glimpse of the Arctic Through a Californian's Eyes

February 1st, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, Dive Training, Diving, Expedition Training, Sports

This Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle featured a great article by Margo Pfeiff about her trip to Baffin Island for training in polar survival. I couldn't help but giggle at her description of her first foray into Arctic waters:
Dangling my legs off a 6-foot-thick ice floe, I slide into slushy water. My "swimsuit" ain't no polka-dotted bikini, but a screaming red one-piece waterproof number I've wrestled over a half-dozen layers, including an expedition down jacket and ski boots. Air rushes out around my neck as heavy-gauge nylon hugs me. Suddenly, I'm bobbing buoyantly up to my chin in the Arctic Ocean like a cherry in somebody's piña colada. As I hoist myself back onto the ice sheet, the saltwater on my suit flash-freezes and drifts to my feet as snow. I had come north to immerse myself in the Arctic, but hadn't expected the experience to be quite so literal.
This rare patch of open water in the sea ice blanketing Frobisher Bay is a polynya kept open throughout winter by strong currents. The 29-degree seawater steams into the clear, minus-18 degree March air. I dog-paddle through clinking ice chunks as if I'm doing laps in a tumbler of scotch.
The sometime absurdity of negotiating Artcic waters aside, Pfeiff  manages to capture how fun the Arctic can be, how unique and enjoyable trekking across sea ice and camping on a creaking ice-locked bay. Pfeiff's whole article is well worth a read. You can read it in its entirety on the San Francisco Chronicle's webpage. Got the itch to try it yourself? Check out our trips page for more information on our expeditions to Baffin Island and beyond.
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