Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Actually making it out to Raven!

Actually got out to Raven today, but not without some drama...

When waiting for a ride to the field in Kangerlussuaq, the first thing I usually do in the morning is wander down to the office to see what the weather's like at my intended destination. This morning the weather was pretty similar to recent days, too warm to make me confident, but it had cooled quite a bit overnight, so it looked like we might go. With optimisim I went and grabbed some breakfast. On my return, I found Sparky (Mark Begnaud, VPR Construction Manager) on the satphone with Mark Albershardt, who'd called in to say that the Spryte, a tracked vehicle they use for grooming the skiway, had just died in the middle of the skiway. They were running through scenarios of what had gone wrong and how they might move it so a plane could come in.

To make a long, coffee-fueled couple of hours short, in the end Mark and Lou managed to get the Spryte off the skiway, and weather was holding, so we headed out to the plane. In addition to me and the film crew, we had the US ambassador to Denmark, his personal assistant, and his 2 bodyguards coming along for the ride, to see Raven camp and get a nice scenic flight down Jacobshavn glacier. From the start the pilot told me that if they had trouble getting off, I'd be spending the night, and if we got to the skiway and they didn't like the look of it, they might not even land at all. No worries, I said, just hoping to get on the ground. As soon as we took off it was clear that this pilot wanted to show the film crew some spectacular scenery, as he flew "the long way" along the ice edge before turning inland to head up to Raven. WIth now window to look out of, I was never sure if we'd be landing until the skis touched down. Yes! made it!

We offloaded the cargo and I was met at the back of the plane by Lou, who always has an infectious smile.

Lou, Geared up for talking to the airplane.

I loaded up my snowmachine and wasted no time in heading out to my site, as if they came back I'd have no time to spare. My work went smoothly, and I was done in a couple of hours. Although I was 5 km away, I could hear the plane trying to take off, as they taxied back and forth along the skiway, trying to get up enough speed to fire the JATO boosters.

I began to wonder 1) if I'd finish my work in time to get back on the plane, and 2) if they'd all be spending the night! But after an hour or so I heard the unmistakable sound of a flying herc. I knew before Lou called me to let me know, that I'd be spending the night. Lou and Mark cooked up some fine burgers, and we had a lovely evening, and then went off to sleep after a very long day for all.


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