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Arctic Club Dinner 2023 – Report

By February 21, 2024No Comments
Forest School Dining Hall

Arctic Club Dinner 2023  – held on Saturday 9th December at Forest School, Walthamstow, London, E17 3PY

The dinner was North of London, if not actually the Arctic, at the School where Penny Goodman was headteacher for many years. Initial doubts as to whether the explorers could find a location between Chingford and Epping were assuaged by a turnout of over 60 members, all dressed in their best.  The school looked after us well, with excellent food smartly served, a splendid Christmas tree, and the use of a classroom for the talks on the Saturday and Sunday.  The talks were also shown on Zoom, due to the magical skills of our IT team.  There were also original albums from Club archives available to for members to peruse.

Saturday’s talks from the sponsored expeditions demonstrated a wide range of interests in the Arctic, and showed impressive exploration skills.

A keen team of students from Newcastle, each speaking about their specific role, described an investigation into anthropogenic climatic impacts on Longyearbyen and Longyearbreen. This involved a lot of slogging up glacial moraine and retreating glaciers to get water samples, and demonstrated great persistence in pursuit of their goal.  The analyses were still being done at the time of the lecture.  They did get to see a bit more of Svalbard after the project, and will no doubt return. (Leader Matthew Nicholson).

The second talk, by Canadian mountaineer Amanda Bischke, described a climbing expedition seeking new routes on Baffin Island, the journey from their arrival point being entirely human-powered, using canoes or backpacks to transport their equipment.  Ice that was too thin to walk on and too thick to get a boat through provided a substantial challenge.  Despite this, they got to climb their objectives and made it back without mechanical assistance.

The third talk by Will Stirling described a transit of the Northwest Passage by sailing boat, again avoiding too much modern technology including doing the navigation without GPS. The wooden craft had been built by Will Stirling and team, and the expedition had been more than 10 years in the planning. They made the transit despite ice, bad weather and things going wrong with the boat, in traditional fashion.

There was the club AGM, then drinks and dinner and no-one got lost in the Forest on the way home.

Sunday’s talks showed an eclectic range of interests at extraordinary depth, and it isn’t possible to do them justice in a short report.  The new president Kevin Mansell talked about the future of the club, as well as some kayaking in West Greenland, Maiwenn Beadle described captaining an icebreaker craft up the west coast of Greenland, Hazel Yabsley spent time getting to know Greenlandic families and presented them with one of her artworks in stained glass (a Raven). Fiona Gould gave a history of the family home of John Rae in Orkney, which is being developed as an Orkney Arctic Centre, based on Rae’s role in discovering the key to the northwest passage.