Frozen in Time: Recovery Mission

Frozen in Time: Recovery Mission


by Adrienne Lavidor-Berman on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Author Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University, is heading to Greenland this summer to help recover three World War II heroes entombed inside a glacier since November 1942. Two of the men were Lieutenant John Pritchard and Radioman Benjamin Bottoms, crewmen of a Coast Guard amphibious biplane who were trying to rescue survivors from a B-17 bomber that crashed during a search mission. The third man was the radio operator of the B-17, Corporal Loren Howarth. Zuckoff described the historic events and the search for the lost plane in his most recent book, "Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II." In this blog, he'll be documenting the public-private partnership to carve through thousands of tons of ice to fulfill the U.S. military's promise to "leave no man behind."

Follow the stream below for updates on Zuckoff's travels. You can also follow him on Twitter @MitchellZuckoff.


  • Betsey Whitney 8/10/2013 10:35:44 AM
    Experiencing the expedition with you all gets better and better. Mitch: your sense of humor is priceless. Loving this, absolutely loving this ability to live along with the Group in Greenland. Thank you!
  • Lynne Tucker 8/11/2013 10:44:26 AM
    Love the "ice chips ." It's easy to imagine Rob saying just about any of those things. Nice to see you made some good progress today and you all still have a sense of humor ( well, most of you anyway).
  • Mel Lutgring 8/11/2013 10:44:33 AM
    Mitch, enjoying your daily reports of the progress and the personal observations! Thanks! Keep up the good work!
  • Karen Teller 8/11/2013 10:44:50 AM
    Amazing work happening there in Greenland and thank you for sharing these great updates. Boston will keep all the team STRONG during these trying days which I know are not all fun but very exciting. Can't wait to here more about the Ice Shower.
  • Dave 8/12/2013 10:54:28 AM
    Thank you for sharing, Mitchell.
  • Dave 8/12/2013 10:54:33 AM
    It's so great to see our daughter, Laurel, in action.
  • Caryn 8/12/2013 10:54:52 AM
    Time to start a WEEGEE FOR PRESIDENT campaign.
  • Matthew Saab 8/13/2013 11:03:27 AM
    Thanks for all the hard work, long hours, and dedication to our troops, God bless and be safe.
  • Brenda 8/13/2013 11:03:40 AM
    What an amazing blog. Was just finishing the book when Jenna Rizzo, wife of Nick Bratton, put on FB that her husband was on an adventure in Greenland. Next thing I know I'm reading about him in Frozen in Time. Finishing the book and reading this blog has been more exciting than reading Into Thin Air. I sort of feel like I'm there and wish everyone the best. Be safe Nick, so proud to know you!!!
  • Betsey Whitney 8/14/2013 1:27:26 PM
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOU!! I am there in spirit, to wish you the very, very, very best. You are one deserving, first-class guy. Thank you.
  • Beth Fuchs, Ben's Mom 8/16/2013 11:26:54 AM
    Just finished your book, so very sad. You honor all in your quest to find these heroes. Good luck to you all.
  • Traci Tucker 8/16/2013 11:27:00 AM
    Thank you, Mitch. We know that Rob has thoroughly enjoyed his time on this mission - and the friendships he has made. As you all continue your mission, know that our sister, Allison, is watching over all of you to keep you safe.
  • Chris Sudlow 8/16/2013 11:27:06 AM
    Awesome job. Keep going!!!
  • Jan J 8/17/2013 9:58:26 AM
    All of you are my heroes and that's all I have to say about that!
  • Mitchell Zuckoff 8/17/2013 10:09:31 AM

    Expedition members pack up gear in advance of the piteraq storm. 
    by on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM
    Emptying the kitchen dome tent before boarding the helicopters. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM
    Mitchell Zuckoff guides Tom Andreassen's A-Star helicopter into the landing area. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:02 AM
    Pilots Peter Wiis of Finland and Geir Paulsen of Norway in the cockpit of the 212.
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:04 AM
    A weather map at the Hotel Kulusuk showing high winds around Tasiilaq. The forecast for Koge Bay, some 100 miles south, is far worse. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:06 AM
    Previous
    Next

    1 of 5


    RECOVERY MISSION -- DAY TWENTY-ONE


    BLOWN AWAY

    KULUSUK, Greenland – Piteraq
    storm.
    It’s one of the scariest phrases in Greenlandic, scary enough to send us
    fleeing the glacier in an emergency evacuation by helicopter for the safety of
    the Hotel Kulusuk.

    After a rough 24 hours of winds that at times reached
    hurricane force, we woke today to near-freezing temperatures and relatively
    calm skies.
    We assembled in the kitchen dome intending to spend the day
    repairing the damage from the just-passed storm, and resuming bore-hole melting
    and down-hole camera investigating.

    Then project manager Joe Tuttle arrived with a dismaying weather
    forecast: the storm we’d just endured was only a warm-up.
    Tomorrow Koge Bay is in
    the path of winds that might exceed 100 miles per hour.
    Our tents are no match
    for such winds, and there’s nowhere on the glacier or the
    nunatak to hide.

    Here’s how I described such storms in the book:
    “[D]evastating blizzards known as
    piteraq
    storms
    race more than a hundred miles
    per hour across the unbroken landscape.
    The wind blows glacial dust that can
    scour glass or blind eyes left unprotected.
    Soldiers stationed at an American
    base in Greenland during World War II sometimes crawled from one building to
    the next to avoid violent winds.
    An officer who stepped blithely out of his hut
    was thrown twenty feet into a wall, breaking both arms.

    JPAC Major Jeremiah Ellis moved quickly to see if we could
    get Air Greenland to make multiple helicopter runs to get us off the ice before
    nightfall.
    “This is beyond just enduring crappy weather,” he said. “This is a
    safety issue.

    Some team members wanted to stay, believing that we could
    tough it out and make good use of today’s fine weather to catch up on the time
    lost the previous day.

    Master mechanic WeeGee Smith survived several such storms
    during his work in 1990 and 1992 recovering the P-38 known as
    Glacier Girl. With more time in
    Greenland than anyone on the expedition, WeeGee is a voice of authority and
    experience.
    He also revels in experiencing the worst that Greenland has to
    offer.
    Storms tend to excite him. Yet he, too, supported the idea of
    evacuation.

     “We’re only going to
    go backwards by staying,” WeeGee said.
    “Let’s protect ourselves.

    For the next eight hours, we seesawed between going and
    staying, as our attempts to line up the helicopters seemed doomed by foul
    weather at their takeoff points in Kulusuk and Tasiilaq, some hundred miles
    from our base camp.
    Air Greenland pilot Tom Andreassen told me he tried to
    leave Tasiilaq twice early in the day, only to be turned back twice because of
    weather.

    In the meantime, we completely disassembled our base camp,
    packing up tents; collecting our gear in central locations and wrapping it in
    heavy plastic; and organizing “go bags” of essential gear that wouldn’t weigh
    down the copters if they ever came.
    With that done, we enjoyed a surprisingly
    warm and sunny day, stretching out like lizards on the rocks.
    Several of us
    used large Pelican cases at the edge of base camp as chaise lounges.
    Safety
    leader John Bradley dubbed our spot “Pelican Beach.

    We saved the kitchen dome for last, waiting until we knew
    for sure the helicopters were in the air.
    We emptied it of all our food, stoves
    and supplies, then brought it down and packed it away.
    At that point there was
    only the collection of assorted bags and boxes to show we’d ever been there.
    We
    have a big job of rebuilding when we return.

    Tom finally reached us in his A-Star copter shortly before 6
    p.
    m., trailed closely by pilots Geir Paulsen of Norway and Peter Wiis of
    Finland in a big helicopter called a 212, a bird known to Vietnam-era soldiers
    as the Huey.

    Five members of our team joined Tom in the A-Star while the
    remaining nine of us crammed into the 212 for and hour-long flight to the
    Kulusuk Airport.
    We arrived shortly before 7 p.m. then walked a half-mile to
    our weekend refuge: the Hotel Kulusuk.
    Waiting for us in the lobby with room
    assignments was North South Polar chief Lou Sapienza.

    * * *

    I’m finishing this post in the bar of the Hotel Kulusuk, a
    can of Tuborg beer within reach and my fellow expedition members at the tables
    around me.
    We’re all freshly showered, clean and shiny, safe and sound, laughing
    and drinking.
    No one seems eager to climb into the first real beds we’ve seen
    in weeks.
    Coast Guard Petty Officer Jetta Disco just gave me a photo of myself
    (included in today’s slide show) guiding Tom’s helicopter in for a landing.
    Lou
    just offered to buy me another round.
    How could I refuse?

    We’ll be returning to Koge Bay as soon as the piteraq passes, as eager as ever to
    recover three American heroes whose homecoming is long overdue.
    Until then,
    this is exactly where we belong.
     

    * * *

    ICE CHIPS: Proof of our (very minor) celebrity in Iceland
    comes in the form of an image from the page-one story I mentioned the other
    day.
    Our best guess on the translation of the headline is: “Frozen Grave.
    Anyone who knows Icelandic should feel free to chime in with a comment
    providing further translation.

    From left, Major Jeremiah Ellis, Isaac Moreno, Brian Kimball and Frank Marley on the front page of an Icelandic newspaper. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM


  • Mel Lutgring 8/18/2013 8:59:42 AM
    Mitch, glad you and the rest of the gang are safe and warm off the glacier for the time being! Hot shower and cold beer! Great Challenge Coin! You earned it!
  • Betsey Whitney 8/20/2013 12:22:57 AM
    Was away for a few days, just checked in. Well, Greenland "laughs" as you had said. A few storms with hurricane force winds were just the beginning , but you all made it through, safely. Was v. glad you got some R&R at the Inn. Pictures and texts throughout, absolutely wonderful. I know, pressure mounting. This experience is so amazing, helicopter video and all: and you have all had successes so far. With you until the very end and will keep tuning in. I've never experienced a story as it unfolds, such as this. God bless.
  • Mitchell Zuckoff 8/20/2013 9:50:16 PM
    RECOVERY MISSION -- DAY TWENTY-FIVE

    WORKING IN MILK

    KOGE BAY, Greenland – A soupy grayish-white overcast moved
    in, snow began to fall, and the glacier blended perfectly with the sky above,
    making it impossible to tell where one ended and the other began.

    We’ve witnessed many things since arriving here, and today
    we saw the terrifying sight that confronted Lieutenant John Pritchard on the
    morning of November 29, 1942, in the moments before his Grumman Duck plo

    Working in milk -- the sky and the glacier appear the same color. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 20, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    wed
    into the Koge Bay glacier.

    Pilots call the phenomenon “flying in milk.” During World War II it claimed numerous lives of airmen unlucky enough to experience it. We know that Pritchard, Radioman Benjamin Bottoms and Corporal Loren Howarth were among those victims because of Pritchard’s last radio transmission, in which he made a desperate plea for “magnetic orientation,” or M.O.’s, to guide him toward his waiting ship.

    Here’s what I wrote in the book:

     “The urgent call
    could mean only one thing: Pritchard was lost, disoriented in the fog and storm,
    flying at perhaps ninety knots, or about one hundred miles per hour.
    Pritchard
    was flying in milk.
    By calling for magnetic orientation, he was desperately
    seeking a course to the
    Northland.
    Without it, the Duck was in danger of slamming into the water or the ice cap.

    Pritchard was the airborne equivalent of a sailor searching for a beacon to
    guide him past a reef.
    The Northland’s
    radio operator hammered his transmitter key, sending the signal for MOs—five
    dashes in succession, da-da-da-da-da—on a prearranged frequency.
    He repeated
    the signal again and again—da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da—but received no
    reply.

    For us, the disappearing horizon meant extra safety
    precautions as we moved between the base camp and the dig site, but little more.

    A pilot might not be able to fly in milk, but we were fine working in it.
    If anything,
    we’ve redoubled our efforts, increasing our work-shift hours, to maximize our
    chances for success.

    We pulled on our wet weather gear, finished reorganizing
    camp after the storm, and resumed bore-hole melting and down-hole-camera
    dropping, ever hopeful that the next hole will be the jackpot.

    * * *

    When we suffer setbacks; or when our hands, ears and feet
    ache from cold; or when Greenland sends us 100 mile per hour glacial winds, one
    name keeps us going: Nancy.

    Nancy is Nancy Pritchard Morgan Krause, John Pritchard’s younger
    sister and closest surviving relative.
    Nancy has been a guiding light for this
    effort, and we often invoke her name here on the ice.
    “I’m here for Nancy” is a
    common refrain.

    We’re also here for Bud Richardson, the stepson of Benjamin
    Bottoms, and for the family of Loren Howarth.
    But the connection with Nancy is
    personal.
    She came to see us off before then 2012 expedition, and after
    learning everyone’s role and name, she thanked each team member individually.

    She would have done it again this year, but she already had travel plans and
    was on a cruise when we left.

    Here’s part of what I wrote about her in the book:

     “Nancy smiles as she
    talks about her ‘confident, self-assured’ big brother, nine years her elder,
    and about how gentle and caring he was toward her.
    Nearly seventy years after
    the fact, she cries when she describes the phone call she received from her
    mother while at college.
    ‘She said, “Nancy, John’s been lost.” That was it.
    Nancy left her dormitory, went out into the falling snow, and walked around the
    block, knowing that she’d never fully recover from the loss.
    … ‘Congress has
    said they want all the MIAs, the missing in action, to be brought back to this
    country, and I agree.
    If they bring everybody back, then by God, you bring my
    brother back.
    ’”

    We’re trying, Nancy, we promise.

    * * *

    Nancy Pritchard Morgan Krause and her husband Bill, before the start of the 2012 Duck Hunt. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 20, 2013 at 9:49 PM

    ICE CHIPS: We’re all Duck-obsessed, to the point where some 
    of us have had ducks – both the waterfowl and the aeronautical kind – appear in our dreams. But it reached a new and disturbing level yesterday. While changing boots in my tent, I could have sworn that I heard a distinctive quack-quack sound. I shook it off, knowing that my hearing isn’t great, and there are no such birds within hundreds of miles of here. Then I heard it again. When I emerged from my tent no one was around, so I worried that I’d be accused of glacier madness if I asked if anyone had heard something strange. Alone with a few friends in the base camp dome, I summoned the nerve. They broke into big smiles: safety leader John Bradley had sounded a hunter’s duck call he has on his iPhone. I don’t know how, but I’ll get him back.


    Night on the glacier, with the lit-up base camp dome under the almost full moon. (Photo by Frank Marley) 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff on Aug 20, 2013 at 9:46 PM

  • Pat Wilkins, West Side News 8/20/2013 9:56:42 PM
    Mitch, still hope for successful recovery of Duck & Crew. Holding review of Frozen in Time in anticipation of such.
  • Gail 8/21/2013 10:19:45 PM
    So glad you are all safe !!! Best of luck on the rest of the mission - please tell Mindy that Gail and Keith love reading the blog !!!
  • Barbara Long 8/22/2013 9:51:26 PM
    John and I read your blog every day. Know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers for both your safety and your success in finding the Duck. Mitch, your writing is superb, as usual.
  • Ryan Otte 8/22/2013 9:51:31 PM
    Looking good out there on the ice, Andy! More fun than sitting on the hangar deck, i bet!!
  • Aunt Doreen 8/24/2013 12:39:25 PM
    Reading about the daily progress in real time is very exciting; also a little scary - crevasses, guns and bears, oh my! You are all so brave. Keep up the good work. Hoping for success. Stay safe.
  • Marc Storch 8/25/2013 10:44:30 AM
    Great to see a picture of Lolly I have never seen before. Thanks so much for what you and the rest of the team are doing to find those three young fellows who never had a chance to make it home. My mom, 91 now, same age Lolly would have been had he been alive today, read your book. She was amazed to see what one of my dad's best friends went through and pronounced your book "impossible to put down". Hoping the team finds "the boys" but even if they don't, the commitment and dedication of the team would make them proud. Thanks again! Marc
  • Jenna Rizzo 8/29/2013 11:35:54 AM
    Love the Ice Chips sounds report. I can almost hear the symphony from here. Wish I was there to lift the boiling kettle and have a cup of tea with you. Great job on the blog, Nicholas. Can't wait to hear your stories in person.
  • Michelle Donovan 8/29/2013 11:35:58 AM
    Thanks for keeping us updated Nick. I hope all the winds die down soon. Yes, Brian Horner does bring good luck everywhere he goes! I should know, he is my big brother! Keep up the good work all and give my brother a big hug for me.
  • Mike Burns 8/30/2013 1:38:25 AM
    Thanks for the "live" update Nick. I've heard that fortified walls work well against the Piteraq.
  • Deborah 8/30/2013 11:20:21 AM
    My son Major Jeremiah Ellis might like to hear about the weather here in Iowa. We have had record breaking temperatures this week. Temperatures have been in the high 90's, even broke, 100. Sounds like you could use some warm and we could trade for some cooler temps from you. Great read... Wait with baited breathe every day... Such commitment, determination, and perseverance. Hats off to the group... Job well done!! You should all be so PROUD!!
  • Mitchell Zuckoff 9/3/2013 10:45:52 PM

    Evacuating the Koge Bay glacier. (Photo by Frank Marley) 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff


    RECOVERY MISSION -- WEEKEND UPDATES

    This much-anticipated string of updates, delayed by weather and other issues, was written by safety team leader NICK BRATTON

    August 30, 2013

    Base Camp

    Our team emerged this morning from a two-day hibernation in
    high spirits.
    However, the same cannot be said of our wind-worn equipment.  The 80 mph piteraq battering camp since
    Saturday claimed one sleeping tent and inflicted heavy damage on another.
    While
    the winds remained above 30 mph today, skies were clear and we were able to
    resume our activities at the dig site.

    Given our dwindling days on the ice and unpredictable
    weather, today Major Jeremiah Ellis put into motion the initial stages of our
    departure plan.
      In anticipation of
    having a helicopter at our disposal to reposition equipment, a crew of strong
    backs labored to free our fuel drums from their icy imprisonment.

      When the helicopter arrived bearing supplies,
    it did not have the accessories necessary for moving fuel drums, so it departed
    with our trash and some Hotsy pressure washer parts for repair in Kulusuk.

    Meanwhile, reprising her original role with North South Polar, geophysicist Jaana Gustafsson patrolled the glacier with her ground-penetrating radar to expand the survey area.  Anthropologists Mindy Simonson and Dr. Laurel Freas explored two new holes with the camera as persisting winds scoured the dig site with airborne ice crystals. 

    A new construction project arose from adaptations to our search tactics.  In consultation with master mechanic WeeGee Smith, the anthropologist team decided yesterday to attempt to locate more conclusive evidence of the aircraft using a new approach.  WeeGee would expand an existing hole to a four-foot diameter and descend into the depths of the glacier to investigate a point of interest.  In order to accomplish this feat, WeeGee proposed construction of a gantry – an elevated frame from which to lower him into and retrieve him from the glacier with rope and pulleys.

    North South Polar revealed its latent engineering talents, taking WeeGee’s concepts and seizing power tools with gusto. We measured, sawed, and bolted throughout the afternoon, finishing our sturdy structure moments before the call for dinner crackled over the radio.  The gantry and hole would be covered by a dome tent, allowing WeeGee to operate in inclement weather.  The photo shows Project Manager Joe Tuttle joined by Safety Team Leaders Nick Bratton, Frank Marley, and Brian Hornerdemonstrating the strength of the finished product.


    by Mitchell Zuckoff

    More unpleasant weather is just around the nunatak.  High winds augmented by one to three inches
    of freezing rain are due Sunday, so we are returning to Kulusuk on Saturday to
    wait out the storm.
      WeeGee will use the
    visit to repair some Hotsy components.

    ICE CHIPS: Communications specialist Isaac Moreno sustained
    a calamitous avian mishap last night.
      In
    his haste to respond to a late-night page from headquarters, Isaac heaved
    mightily on his sleeping bag zipper, tearing a long hole in the fabric.
      An explosion of down filled his tent. For a
    full hour Isaac attempted to clear his tent of fluffy, floating plumage.
      Apparently this is a difficult undertaking,
    especially in the wind at 2 a.
    m. 
    Fortunately a cup of hot chocolate revived him in the morning as he made
    light of his feathered flurry.
      With a
    replacement sleeping bag Isaac has returned his tent to its stylish state.


    * * *

    August 31, 2013

    Kulusuk, Greenland -- Sitting around the tables of the
    hotel’s dining room it’s hard to believe that a few short hours ago we were
    rushing to strike camp on the nunatak.
     
    We survived the wrath of the piteraq only to learn from the Danish
    Meteorological Institute and the U.
    S. Navy that more adverse weather was headed
    our way.

    Having assumed the mantle of the blog from Mitch, I am
    discovering how difficult it is to write about subjects other than the
    weather.
      Our activities revolve around
    the forecast; each morning we hang anxiously on every word Project Manager Joe
    Tuttle exchanges with his Danish friends on the satellite phone.
      For the last few days we’ve been hearing
    intimations of the return of high winds, only this time bringing its friend,
    freezing rain.
      Or maybe snow.  They weren’t certain.  But the forecasts agreed:  something was coming.

    Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, we
    undertook a protracted helicopter evacuation to Kulusuk under the direction of
    JPAC.
      In four separate flights aboard an
    Air Greenland A-Star we moved the team to the security and comforts of the
    hotel, each flight arriving two and a half hours after the previous.

    Since there isn’t much going on in Kulusuk tonight, I have

    taken the creative liberty of re-writing one of my favorite poems:  Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  For your literary pleasure, I present
    “Xanaduck”

    In Koge Bay did Gustafsson a stately sleeping tent decree:

    Where holes into the glacier ran

    And WeeGee worked with steady hand

    Above the frozen sea.

    At base camp winds blew all around

    And tents were anchored to the ground;

    Unshaken these bold and driven wills,

    Where weaker women and men would flee;

    The bergs of ice, the fractured hills,

    And naught a spot of greenery.

    But would our probing wish be granted

    Within the frigid glacier cover?

    As under heavy toil we panted

    To lift and move and melt undaunted

    And taste the Mountain House’s savor.

    Yet with our howling Hotsies steaming

    Down our necks piteraqs were breathing.

    A mighty wind from the north was forced

    Amid whose swift and ruthless burst

    Crushed several tents in ferocious gale.

    How could our tiny band prevail?

    Somewhere nearby a Duck had ever

    Since ’42 lain under the river

    Of ice meandering with glacial motion.

    Towards the fjord this river ran

    Bearing three heroic men.

    History gave our team the notion

    To seek beneath the ice and star

    These heroes from a distant war.

    * * * 

    September 1, 2013

    Kulusuk, Greenland

    The lassitude and heavy weather descending upon the hotel
    has made for a slow and restful day.
      The
    most activity anyone mustered was to catch a lift into the village with Jesper,
    the hotel manager, to pick up snacks at the general store.
      This recovery day gives us an opportunity to
    review photos and post a selection taken in the preceding weeks.
      They tell their own stories.

    (PHOTOS TO FOLLOW)

    * * * 

    September 2, 2013

    Kulusuk, Greenland

    Sunshine greeted us this morning as the clear, radiant
    arctic light cast the craggy island countryside into sharp contrast.
      The weather on the glacier continues to be
    harsh:  forecasts call for winds up to 70
    miles per hour and rain.
      Our team will
    remain here until Thursday when winds are projected to recede to a pedestrian
    35 miles per hour.

    This was a day of excursions.  After spending all day yesterday cooped up as
    sheets of rain assaulted the hotel it was time to venture into the sun and
    explore.
      Communications specialist Isaac
    Moreno and forensic photographer Brian Kimball headed up the shore toward a
    collection of towering icebergs for a closer look.
      Anthropologist Mindy Simonson made friends
    with Zita, a beautiful white sled dog kept near the hotel by Karsten, the local
    aircraft mechanic.
      Project manager Joe
    Tuttle also took a tour along the inlet to check out the herd of icy giants
    looming off the shore.
      NSP Team Lead Lou
    Sapienza strolled into the village to peruse the handcrafted wares at the
    souvenir shop, returning with a sculpture made from a whale’s tooth.

    Safety Team Leaders Frank Marley and John Bradley,
    Geophsyicist/Epicurean Jaana Gustafsson and I undertook an ascent of a nearby
    peak.
      Jaana and I ascended the casual
    north ridge while John and Frank made what is possibly the first American
    ascent of the west direct gully.
      The
    views from the summit were spectacular.
     
    Sadly, Jaana is leaving us tomorrow, reluctantly flying back to
    Stockholm.
      Everyone on the team will miss
    her endless energy, exemplary work ethic, and magical ability to elevate
    Mountain House to new culinary heights.
     
    Jaana has been instrumental in the history of this undertaking, as it
    was her radar survey in 2012 that identified the spot where we found evidence
    of the Duck.

    While the rest of the team was either soaking up the sun or

    enjoying restful interludes in the hotel, Master Mechanic WeeGee Smith was
    exerting his willpower on a leaking Hotsy coil with a welder in the airport’s
    maintenance garage.
      The good news:  his repairs resulted in the coil withstanding
    170 pounds per square inch of water pressure without leaking.
      The murky news:  when operating on the ice, the Hotsy pushes
    water through the coils at 4,000 pounds per square inch.
      While I have confidence in WeeGee’s handiwork,
    we have learned that Greenland has its own way with our equipment.


    Thanks to all the loyal readers who have been following the 
    adventures of our expedition from around the world.  We appreciate your comments, encouragements, and well wishes.  Knowing that you are supporting us from afar helps us keep focus on the job at hand.  We’re going to need all the help we can get as we enter the final leg of the mission. While the winds are predicted to ease off later this week, our return to the ice will be greeted with a few days of freezing rain.  But until then, there is more sun to enjoy in Kulusuk.


    by Mitchell Zuckoff



    A Kulusuk sunset. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff


    Geophysicist/epicurean Jaana Gustafsson, who personified the can-do effort of the North South Polar team. 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff

  • Sally V. 9/5/2013 3:04:31 PM
    Best of luck to everyone returning to the ice today.
  • Brenda Dawson 9/5/2013 10:32:48 PM
    Still loving all the updates. Keep up the good work on the blog Nick and all of you for your determination to find the duck and the three lost heroes. Stay Safe!!
  • Angela S 9/5/2013 10:33:09 PM
    I second that! Be safe.
  • Jenna Rizzo 9/8/2013 4:19:31 PM
    And I thought getting into Lake Washington was chilly. I'm glad you all are having a little fun while you can. Stay safe out there upon return to the ice. Can't wait to hear how WeeGee's descent turns out. Keep us posted, Nick.
  • Larry Luckjohn 9/9/2013 10:13:32 PM
    Greetings and best wishes to the team! Extend my greetings and thanks to Jaana Gustafsson. She seems like a sweet gal !!
  • Larry Luckjohn 9/9/2013 10:13:35 PM
    Greetings and best wishes to the team! Any one having contact with
  • Betsey Whitney 9/10/2013 2:29:07 AM
    The Team's perseverance is absolutely limitless. I need the humor of "feathered flurry" and the imagery of Frank, John and Nick----swimming with the ice bergs?? to counteract emotions while reading about the persistent, furious challenge of Greenland's unforgiving weather and yet the constant response of returning to the ice. Wee Gee, you've got courage. Wouldn't want to trade places with you in that glacier-diving structure. But that's why you're there and I'm here. You and your team are amazing, amazing, amazing. Again, God bless.
  • Mitchell Zuckoff 9/10/2013 2:35:31 AM
    RECOVERY MISSION -- GENERAL UPDATE

    September 9, 2013

    I'm anticipating a new blog post shortly from safety team leader Nick Bratton. All is well, but they're having problems with the satellite internet uplink; I'll be taking dictation from the glacier via satellite phone. I hope.

    In the meantime, North South Polar chief Lou Sapienza sent this slide show from aboard the cargo freighter Johanna Kristina, which he sailed aboard from Tasiilaq to Koge Bay as part of the early phase of equipment removal from the glacier.

    (Photos by Lou Sapienza) 
    by Mitchell Zuckoff
    by Mitchell Zuckoff
    by Mitchell Zuckoff
    by Mitchell Zuckoff
    by Mitchell Zuckoff
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  • Stephanie Kirkwood 9/10/2013 11:01:50 PM
    Good luck to you all in getting the equioment off the ice! So glad that Jana (from Germany) can be there with you,..... Thanks Lou for making it happen! Look forward to more blog updates and Lou - keep those great photo shots coming!
  • Nancee D-S 9/13/2013 11:53:37 AM
    I feel the pain and disappointment of all the team members! So sad that your mission ended like this. Keeping fingers crossed and wishes high that a team will be able to return next June, finish the search and bring these men home to their country and their families.
  • RayRedd 9/13/2013 3:36:12 PM
    It just so happens that I've been reading Mitch's book detailing the multiple crashes, rescue efforts and the first location/recovery expedition over the last several days, and just this morning came to the final chapters including the plans for a 2013 return. Now, I've read most of the blog posts and am more impressed than ever at the perseverance, dedication and toughness of the entire team. Your commitment to honor those fallen while trying to save others is commendable and impressive. Actively looking forward to future posts and hopefully a successful 2014 expedition.
  • Tamara Kutzko 9/13/2013 9:24:19 PM
    It would be great if our first few attempts at any goal brought immediate success; but rarely in life does that occur. Only through experience do we attain wisdom. Hindsight provides us with valuable lessons. This mission gave everyone involved - experience - that will benefit your next mission to recover these 3 fallen heroes. I have read your book "Frozen in Time" and followed the blog daily. I do not believe this mission was a failure by any means. Lessons were learned, valuable life experiences brought knowledge - all of which will aide in your next expedition. Most importantly, everyone who was involved in this courageous mission is returning home safely. Bless you all for your bravery and hard work.
  • Mel Lutgring 9/30/2013 6:45:26 PM
    Great epilogue to this year's Duck Hunt! Thoroughly enjoyed all the updates! Thanks for making it available!
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