Wednesday, 13 September 2017 09:33

The missing millionaires go to the North Pole

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Today the tourist can go anywhere — even to the North Pole. Without intermediaries only two travel agencies in the world can offer you such travel. No matter, how old are you, and in what you to physical shape. The main thing — quantity of money on your bank account. If they are enough, then the atomic ice breaker will safely and comfortably bring you in doomsday, and you shouldn't make any special efforts.

Both travel agencies which sell permits to a pole (Russian and American) send the clients on the Yamal ice breaker there. He is provided by Murmansk Shipping Company. Two travel agencies almost don't differ at the price and quality of the offered services, but offer a trip to a pole at different times. If you want to see bulks of thick ice and whims of bad polar weather, that is to look at the ice breaker in operation, then go in July, having bought a tour at Americans. And if you prefer to admire the Arctic nature, to enjoy the sun and to land on neighboring islands, then use services of the Russian agency in August. In other months the ice breaker doesn't go to flight. All rest of the time in a year Yamal serves, as well as all other working ice breakers. Then on a pole you can reach on dogs, skis, the helicopter and snowshoes.

To keep balance

Tourists rise aboard on the Murmansk shipyard — where Yamal has just undergone annual testing. The ice breaker undergoes overhaul every year because safety on the atomic ice breaker always is on the first place. On shipyard it is strictly forbidden to photograph and shoot video.

Integral part of crew is the ship protection armed with submachine guns. If to ask the security officer why he by the ship — to protect the atomic ice breaker from tourists or that to protect tourists from polar bears — he will only burst out laughing.

Yamal has gone to a way on June 26 around 16.00 when water level because of inflow was the highest. It is necessary for the ice breaker to leave the Murmansk mooring. In the first day everywhere — one water, small ice floes have begun to appear only for the second day. Though the sea was quiet, very much swung the ship, and most of tourists suffered from seasickness. Corridors with cabins of tourists framed the paper packages opened and attached to a protection through each two meters. The deck doctor promised that when the ship reaches border of ices, rolling will stop.

Next day the ice breaker has overcome the first ice-rink, and the words of the doctor were confirmed: has really ceased to swing the ship. But instead him shook, and it is constant and unpredictable. If because of seasickness tourists just couldn't eat, then now it was even difficult to go. Tourists had to get used that each step can become a step to emptiness. In a second a floor under you can fall by couple of meters (it occurs when ice under the ice breaker breaks, and the ship bottom for a minute is compared to water level). Taking into account that fact that average age of tourists — 

about 50 years, to crew are offered to gather small speed. The it is more, the more ship shakes, and that high probability to be traumatized. And the American agency extremely is negative to the broken extremities of tourists. Despite all measures, in the evening the doctor examined one tourist with the damaged hand. Fortunately, it was the first and last injury in this expedition.

For the next two days, to own surprise, you get used to the unsteady soil under legs and you already move with bigger confidence. The one who is younger even went to ship gym and persistently tried to play volleyball. Actually it is boring to travel to the North Pole in general. You are imprisoned in a safe womb of the ice breaker and only and you wait when you already reach a destination point.

On the deck all differently: it is possible to watch as the ice breaker fights against multimeter ice, to look at the infinite ice plains, unexpected options white, gray and blue. It is possible to look out still polar bears, walruses and polar birds. It is possible to watch with surprise behind continuous changes of weather when in several minutes the sun and a rainbow are replaced by dense fog, and already for two meters nothing is visible. And to all this is unceasing noise of the breaking ice and the shivering ice breaker.

Other interesting place — the captain's bridge. From the second day of float tourists are allowed to come there at any time. And if you speak Russian, then the crew will readily talk to you about anything many hours in a row.

The last option to pass away time — drawing lessons. For example, it is possible to learn to draw a polar bear. The scheduled course of photography of ice did not take place this time because there were few persons interested. Also, surprisingly, the initiative to hold a volleyball, table tennis tournament and chess did not find a response. Perhaps, it is all about an age of tourists?

And to the north! And to the south …

And here we already almost on the place. In the evening on the first of July organizers declared that we shall reach the North Pole at noon the next day. At that moment Yamal was in a point 89 ° 20´ northern latitude and 41 ° 40´ east longitude. Disturbance seized all. Organizers assured that if we reach a pole at night, then all will be woken.

Soon on the captain's bridge I learned that it is offered to crew to go with such speed that the ice breaker reached the North Pole only in the morning. And quicker it is possible? Of course, at midnight.

The next morning I delivered the alarm clock for an hour before normal — at seven in the morning. Deck radio reported that the objectives will be achieved till a breakfast therefore all of us quickly put on — and run on the deck to look at the North Pole.

Thanks to GPS it is possible to learn without effort that the objectives at last are achieved. But to expose ice breaker antennas in the correct situation — so that the monitor of the GPS receiver showed treasured zero after the single nine, already not so simply. Six-meter ice and the sizes of the ice breaker — not ideal conditions for thin manipulations. The frozen tourists with firmness keep the watch on a nose and track how the ice breaker breaks ice. We floated the North Pole already several times there and back, without knowing about it (to the north and to the south). The ship moves back to the north, and digits on the screen increase — suddenly скок and begin to decrease. Still attempt: the ship moves back to the south, and the captain states again: "We jumped it". Forward — to the north and … it is a little more … The devil, we float to the south again.

Through an hour and a half at last it was succeeded to record zero for several seconds: 90 ° 00´ northern latitude and 0 ° 00´ east longitude. Tourists on a nose drank champagne, were photographed and congratulated each other. Then they quickly moved to the warm dining room at last to have breakfast. After persistent standing on the deck they it precisely deserved. The crew was happy too: all behind. Now it was necessary only to bring all back safe and sound. But only after the party on ice will end.

Ice around the North Pole strongly cracked from numerous maneuvres, and it is dangerous to land on it tourists. Therefore the ice breaker returned on several tenth degree to the south. The captain and crew found safe and strong "glade" — rather flat ice-rink. The next hour left on preparation for disembarkation: it was necessary to lower a ladder for tourists from the deck on ice and to strengthen a flagstaff with flags of those states which citizens participated in this traveling. This time on the North Pole there were 19 flags, including Czech.

When everything was ready, tourists could go down on ice. Their movements on ice were restricted by the ship and the armed security guards with automatic machines. For this conditional boundary nobody has the right to come: last year tourists faced a polar bear on the most North Pole therefore it was necessary to observe limit caution all the time.

At first tourists gathered in a circle around a flagstaff with flags. It symbolized the North Pole which was remote from us on several hundreds of meters. After the speech of the chief representative of travel agency tourists as one big snake, bypassed the conditional North Pole. They finished the way around Earth on a parallel with an applause and joyful shouts. Two more hours all were photographed on ice with the ship, without the ship, with ice and with the ocean, with a table North Pole … 

The most courageous could bathe.

In a crack behind the standing ice breaker the crew suited the improvised beach: carpets on ice, shops and steps in water. The tourists attached by a cable, as a rule, safely plunged into the water, and then promptly jumped out back on ice. Water temperature — 1,45 degrees. After tourists were quickly wiped by the prepared towels and drank for the heroic act of the real Russian vodka. This time nearly a quarter of tourists has found in itself courage to plunge into water.

As a result the promised barbecue on ice hasn't taken place because years I have begun to burst. Cracks in ice can increase very quickly — up to tens of centimeters in several minutes. Therefore and all have quickly returned all on the ship. Tourists have eaten the hamburgers already then, in the warm dining room when the ice breaker already lays itself a way back to the south.

Ruby rock

Avenues of travel agency promised flights by helicopter and zodiac excursions, but on the ice breaker I have learned that nothing similar wasn't even planned. You supposedly have mixed something. This program is allegedly provided for other expeditions of this agency. By helicopter it was possible to do some flying, only if there would be time for a stop on Franz Josef Land.

We were lucky. Yamal moved ahead back quickly enough therefore we managed to spend one day in this interesting place. At first we have landed around the thrown Russian of the polar station. Wooden ruins of houses, the thrown equipment and heaps of old ice on the coast of one of islands provide rich food for thought and allow to present how was to polar explorers here last century.

The second time we have landed on the cape of Flora where there were only a fenny peat bog, fog and high rocks.

But even such stop encouraged after infinite ice plains. It should be noted also Ruby rock which the ice breaker has approached on distance of hundreds of meters. The maneuver was made under the supervision of the representative of the Russian naturalists' institute because on the rock thousands of Arctic birds nest.

From Franz Josef Land to Murmansk there were only several tens of hours. During this time I still have managed to conduct small survey on why people go on the ice breaker to the North Pole. One and all were skilled travelers though stories of their life differed. "Well though I can spend something before to leave everything to children, huh?" — without smile the businessman from Los Angeles has told. "Last year we have visited Antarctica therefore we in it have decided to look to the north" — the young couple from India has told. "I here — already for the fifth time. I have visited already everywhere, but this travel is pleasant to me most of all" — the billionaire from England who after operation coxofemoral joints practically couldn't go to both has said. "I am glad that work has brought me here, and I would never believe that the polar landscape is so fine" — the Russian operator NBC has told. And I need only to agree with him.

Dana Lipová


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