Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | March 1, 2015

How to drive with a snowscooter when the back gear gets stuck?

After the succesful taptest at the Qaqqaliaq few days ago we were finally ready to deploy the hydrophone and start the monitoring station. It was supposed to be an epic day – and it was indeed, just in an different way.

It was very difficult to get close to the sea ice and Laia had to find her inner ice-climber (secured with a rope) in order to get anywhere near to make a hole to it.

Ice-climber Laia on the ice foot at Qaqqaliaq. Photo: O. Tervo

Ice-climber Laia on the ice foot at Qaqqaliaq. Photo: O. Tervo

Finally when on the ice foot at the edge of the sea ice, Laia put all her energy into a powerful strike with the tuk (the ice breaking spear) – and let go at the crucial moment meaning that we lost the tuk into the sea (happens to everyone at some stage when fiddling with ice but is always equally frustrating). So up again the cliffs and drive back to the Arctic Station to get a new tuk, now secured with a thin rope so that we don´t loose it again – and down the cliffs and the blocks of ice onto the ice foot again to make a new hole. The ice crampons on Outi´s boots were falling off at a regular 15 minute interval and at a moment of unmindful she fell head first on the cliffs – it turned out to be knees first but still one of those things that should not happen. By this time the water was even lower and the zone between the sea ice and the ice foot was not solid ice anymore but thick mushy slush ice which meant that the hydrophone would just float on top of it and not actually sink into the sea. After several attempts we just had to give up trying to find some clear water and decided to wait for the high tide next morning when the ice would at least be closer to where we were standing.

We arrived at the Arctic Station weary and dissatisfied just to notice that half of our luggage had fallen off somewhere along the way. So back again towards Qaqqaliaq the same route we came which was taking us on some quite narrow passages between houses – and where the snowscooter suddenly tilted and almost rolled on its side. Luckily just almost but we had time to imagine each other on a evacuation helicopter to Nuuk with two broken legs. So finally almost at Qaqqaliaq we found the missing backpack and put the snowscooter on reverse in order to turn it around to finally drive home and stay there … but then the back gear got totally and utterly stuck. So the only way forward was reverse and we did that for a longer time than we care to remember until finally by a sudden and unexpected stroke of luck, the gear jumped over to drive and we were able to drive through the town like normal people.