Friday 17 September 2010

How to open a matchbox (a serious patrol, part II)

In the clearest of all mornings we arrive at Blomsterbukta, a small bay with a rather narrow little valley cut in the colorful rocks around. The air is crisp and the ground makes crunchy sounds as we step across the frozen swamp, getting some higher ground. The cold air is biting our noses - the winter is drawing near. Just on top of the little beach there is a small cabin, entirely covered in black roofing fabric. 
A former hunters hut, it is of course an attraction to sneak inside and get a look. Since it is now used as a smaller depot for the Sirius Patrol, Bjarki explains a little about the small details that escaped the untrained eye. Take the matches: You will find at least one or two boxes with three matches sticking out, right next to the petroleum lamp. Never, never ever! will you find this lamp empty, so your frozen fingers can grip the three matches and light the lamp in one go. Same for the oven, a bunch of tinderwood will always wait there in a oil-filled tincan, so no delay with ignition. Then you chuck the shovel in that sits on top of the oven, containing coal and more fire starter. 
This sounds simpel but may be deciding over life and death in a winter situation. It can be that close. It's a bit of an eye-opener to everyone, how skilled these guys are that are dropped by a Twin Otter plane at 84° North in beginning of November and then have to go nearly 1800km by dogsledge through the coldes areas of this planet before they will see another person. Watching the plane leave, Bjarki admits, is a pretty lonely moment.