Friday, April 20, 2007
Six things we learned in the Arctic

A very well-padded "Spirit of Adventure" team.

Equipped with our trusty snowmobiles, Becky, Chris Mansson, Darren Bull and I went on an Arctic adventure with our guide Kristin last week. The shoot was for the new feature "The Spirit of ...," which launches in the first weekend of May.

Where did we go? And how did we get there, you ask?

For "The Spirit of Adventure" we went up to Spitsbergen, a Norwegian island in the Arctic Ocean. For all you geography fans, Spitsbergen is at latitude 78°57 N, longitude 12°27 E (i.e. very, VERY far up north).

The temperature while we were there varied from -20C to 4C, plus wind chill.

We flew to the town of Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is known as the world's northernmost settlement with a population of about 1,800 (they have a Thai restaurant and the supermarket sells L'Oreal makeup.) However, we spent the majority of the trip outside Longyearbyen -- about a 2-hour snowmobile ride away from the town.

The beauty really is awe-inspiring! I'm sure I had a smile frozen (literally) on my face the entire week we were there (it really was FROZEN on my face; thankfully I wasn't FROWNING when we landed.)

Any concerns I had about the logistics and potential difficulties of the shoot went right out the window, the moment we caught a glimpse of the island from the plane. The sun was out 24 hours a day, albeit not always shining brightly.

A frozen ship ... the starting point of our journey.

Six things we learned in the Arctic:

1. If you don't want Atlanta to call you while in the Arctic, leave your phone at home. Your mobile and blackberry will work.

2. "Lamb" does not necessarily mean "lamb" as we know it. Arctic winds blur the vision and sense of taste.

3. Never leave home without: thermal long johns, thermal top, woollen jumper, windproof fleece
jacket, wool gloves, leather gloves, two pairs of wool/thermal socks, ski mask, wool hat, windproof, wool-insulated trousers, snow boots with 3-inch sole and wool lining, padded windproof snowmobile jumpsuit, woollen hat number 2 OR a viking-hat (Mansson's choice) OR Snowmobile-helmet-with-windguard OR all of the above (if you can find a size big enough -- I tried!)

4. 4C with windchill is still freezing. 4C in the Arctic does NOT equal "Arctic summer", as Becky and I found.

5. Hotel bedroom slippers are the apparel of choice in Spitsbergen hotels/restaurants; just make sure they match your cocktail dress (ALL outdoor shoes are BANNED from all indoor places in Spitsbergen).

6. Polar bears are not always cute and cuddly.

Watch a report by Becky Anderson about her trip: Becky's Briefing

From Leone Lakhani, CNN International Producer
Hear from CNN reporters across the globe. "In the Field" is a unique blog that will let you share the thoughts and observations of CNN's award-winning international journalists from their far-flung bureaus or on assignment. Whether it's from conflict zone, a summit gathering, or the path least traveled, "In the Field" gives you a personal, front row seat to CNN's global newsgathering team.
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