What’s the Adventure?
Clumsy and useless from the cold, my hands fumble around the buttons and dials on the camera before finding the shutter-release. Above me, the Aurora Borealis has exploded into an immense genie-like phantasm, enveloping the entire night sky.
In silence, I wait for the 30-second exposure, anticipating the clunk of the shutter and burning to see what has been recorded. I hold my breath for what seems an eternity, hypnotised by the anomalous glow that has risen from the horizon and is now swirling and pulsing across a starry sky. My mind recalls the chain of unforgettable events that have led us to this secluded camp at the tip of northern Norway, within spitting distance of our objective, Nordkapp.
Moments before the shutter closes, I experience a bizarre sensation of perspective: beneath this scintillating display of the Northern Lights 60 miles above, I feel strangely insignificant as I witness the interaction of solar wind entering Earth’s magnetic field, trapped in a spiral orbit around the Earth’s pole. Add a pair of Defenders and a glowing tipi in the foreground for ambience, and the feeling can’t be beaten. If only it were possible to bottle this moment.
Our Favourite Bit?
Now, all that remained for us to crown this already successful mission was to reach Nordkapp, 71º north. In the morning we congregated at Skarsvåg, the world’s most northerly fishing village, where the snowplough led us the final eight miles to the headland.
Stu played end-to-end Pink Floyd albums, reflecting on the previous evening’s phenomenal light show as we navigated this final, incredible expanse of snowy wilderness.
It was such a privilege to be alone at the Cape. As a group we shared the elation and sense of achievement in complete solitude from the rest of the world, driving the two Defenders right up to the Nordkapp monument on the very tip of Europe.
The wind bit so hard, it was painful to bare skin. My eyes remained half-closed and my face buried inside the neck of
my jacket. But not even such bitter cold could detract from the emotions that befell me as I gazed out across the deep indigo water, sensing the curve of the earth across the horizon and knowing all that lay in front of me were ice caps, a frozen ocean and the North Pole which, from here, was much closer than my home in Spain.
Making it out alive
We discovered that: frozen bananas are useful for hammering in snow pegs; a moose tastes better than it looks; the warmest place in the Arctic is inside the on-board fridge; Scotsmen function best after being warmed from the inside by a good single malt.
Finally, nothing can detract from the marvel that is the Aurora Borealis. It simply must be seen.
The full story can be found in the Spring 2011 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.