When I was managing Ben’s solo expedition in 2004, we were stuck in Khatanga, a town that is best described as the armpit of Northern Siberia. Each day we would head for the airport in the hope that the vodka-fuelled disagreements between the owners of the helicopters and the pilots had resolved themselves. On the first day, we barely got out of the hotel before we were told to head back, the next day we actually managed to get into the entrance. By day eight we had all our baggage loaded and were on the back of a lorry taking us to the helicopter when we were told to turn round. That was the night we got drunk. In the end we were stuck there for ten days and the delay had a huge effect on the weather conditions Ben had to face.
Today it feels like we are back in that situation, each day a little closer to getting on the plane but still not quite making it. Today, we checked in our baggage, we got our boarding cards (two dot-matrix style receipts) and then waited for four hours to find out that the flight had been cancelled. Jon Russill, who has been looking after the logistics for us pointed me towards a useful site – weather forecast.com and since then I have been the most knowledgeable person on East Greenland’s weather in the airport, including the staff, which hasn’t exactly inspired me.
Nevertheless, Ben and I are taking this in true stoic fashion. In an attempt to discern a small silver lining, Ben pointed out that this at least would be good training for the inevitable delay in Punta Arenas before we head down SOUTH. We’ll just have to see how far we get tomorrow. . . . . .