In July 2012 after many months of fundraising, kit preparation and excitement, I met with around 50 other explorers to take part in a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition to Northern Norway.
During the first few days of the expedition we learnt how to live in an expedition environment, learning many new skills which we would need throughout the 3 weeks and bonding as a group. For example we learnt how to use the stoves, put up the different tents, how to cook the perfect dehydrated ration pack and how to use the radio to do every-day situation reports back to base camp and the Chief Leader. In the first week we also went on a day walk scrambling up a valley side to our first high point, where we had a great view of a glacier and its glacial lake. We also explored the adjacent valleys and the fjord, which also included a failed fishing attempt and seeing some porpoises (which we named Nelly and Nina).
In the second week we started our mountain training – this involved learning a variety of new skills both on and off the ice. We first learnt how to use harnesses and the different types of knots needed to rope up. On the ice we learnt how to use crampons and ice axes including self arrests (to prevent a fall) and making anchors (which can be used in crevasse rescue). After two days of training we made our first ascent up the glacier taking around 3 hours – this was a great opportunity to put our new skills into practice. On top of the ice cap we spent our first night on the ice, which was an amazing experience but significantly colder than at base camp.
The end of the second week saw the start of our science phase. This started with a two day trip to the valley of Fjorddalen, which gave us the opportunity to look at past glacial features. We also took part in a 24 hour science collection period to investigate how changes on the glacier affected the glacial stream running down the valley into the fjord. This involved taking meteorological observations and river discharge readings every hour on the hour. The next part of the science phase involved our fire going back onto the ice for four nights. On the ice cap we looked at 3 different nunataks (exposed rock above the ice)- each time we recorded the rock types and looked for evidence of metamorphism.
Overall I had a brilliant time, learnt lots of new skills and feel I am now more prepared for university and beyond that getting a job. I hope to continue mountaineering as a hobby at university and I feel I now have many new scientific techniques that will help me during my studies.
I would like to thank the Ulysses Trust for your generous support and making this expedition possible for me.Cadet F/Sgt Catherine Voysey