Last news from Longyearbyen

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12 April 2007

Last news from Longyearbyen

In the past ten days we have been stuck in Svalbard, waiting for the DC3 supposed to take us on Tara by 87 ° North to take off. Tara is 1400 km away from us, a distance that the DC3 can cover in four hours.

Off course, to reach Tara is not an easy feat, but the funny thing is that the difficulty is not due to technical problems, these have been solved, nor because of climate conditions, the weather has been good in the past ten days, no, the difficulties are administrative. The Russian bureaucracy does not seem in a hurry to see us take off, and from false problems to not keeping their word, have blocked our work on Tara. In particular they have prevented us from accomplishing the change of the crew of which two Russians still remain on Tara. April is the only month with September during which the scientists can take advantage of Tara’s presence on the pack ice to deploy the equipment and do the experiments. This window is small because the sun is soon going to modify the pack ice and make it too mushy to go on it.
 
Tara Expeditions is fighting to find an outcome. Dispatch AFP, letter to the ministers, calls to the princes, the bureaucratic ways are numerous and unfathomable and the soviet “niet” is unpredictable, can change and does not allow to take any other decision than to wait for its dissolution that would enable at last the parachuting of the equipment necessary to enlarge the runway of the Tara airport. To reach Tara, to see how the boat, famous polar schooner built for this adventure in 1989, behaves in this aggressive universe, is for many of us a dream that is nearly becoming reality.
 
Off course the disembarking team, Denys, Hervé and Bruno has reassured us on the boat’s solidity, its level of comfort and extraordinary resistance to the pack ice assaults but these words slip by because we are waiting to see, feel, and experience a bit of the adventure they have just lived through.
Four tons of equipment and 18 persons must be brought over to the pack ice. Crew members, scientists everyone is on hold waiting for Etienne Bourgois to announce us soon that the problem is solved.
 
What if this morning was the right morning?
 
Jean Collet