ICE Tour

04 September 2012
ICE Tour

It's time to share the story ...

Please join us on the ICE Tour !



BOOK TOUR Antarctic ICE

23 June 2012
BOOK TOUR Antarctic ICE

BOOK TOUR Antarctic ICE

Beyond the Challenge

Dixie and Sam are looking forward to meeting all of you and share their unique expedition story with you. The brand new Antarctic ICE book series will bring this unique and groundbreaking expedition back to life: 5013 km in total autonomy in 74 days: a new world record!

The Book Tour will start September 12 in Gent.

For more information and reservations, visit the tour website: www.icetour.org

See you there!

 

 

 

 

 



Dixie's new book release - Polar Exploration Handbook

24 April 2012
Dixie's new book release - Polar Exploration Handbook

Dixie Dansercoer and Cicerone Publishers are proud to announce the release of Dixie's first practical field guide for those passionate about polar adventure travel:  Polar Exploration:  A Practical Handbook for North and South Pole Expeditions.

This guidebook is filled with nearly two decades of experience in extreme environments and provides useful tips to anyone planning on exposed travel in the extreme cold.  From winter campers to intrepid expeditioners, this book will become a tattered and much-used publication in your travel library.  Its publication fills a vacuum in the adventure handbook market.

 



Home

29 February 2012
Home

Dixie and Sam are back home.

They were enthousiastically welcomed to Belgium yesterday after a lengthy journey from Cape Town to London and finally Brussels by a warm and clearly proud group of family, friends, supporters and press.

Sam and Dixie graciously spent the rest of the day and evening completing televison and radio interviews.  It was 10:00pm before Dixie returned to our home after a four month absence - a comical scene where he needed to knock on the door to enter his own dwelling ("No keys!").

It is an unusual process to begin to live in the "real" world again after an extended period on the ice.  It takes a bit of space and a realistic cadence to be able to process the myriad of papers, e-mails, telephone messages, and other demands that seem to scream for attention.  Even though Dixie and I have repeated experience with this situation, we are rather abruptly reminded by the amount of calm it requires to stay true to our solid priorities and to be able to methodically work our way through the pile of responsibilities one step at a time, just like a 5013 km trek through Antarctica.

We believe that it is important to start with the basics and Dixie does this so well:  kiss the wife, kiss the kids, put keys to the house in pocket, lower the toilet seat, stuff the stinking dirty laundry in the washer, grab a beer out off my own refrigerator - and smile with gratitude for all of it.

The smiles are wide here in our Belgian home - together.

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles

 



Reunited in Cape Town

26 February 2012
Reunited in Cape Town

Reunited in Cape Town

In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.  - Hans Nouwens

There simply are no words to accurately describe the moment of being reunited after a four-month absence.

Many before us have experienced longer and more dramatic separations, often under disturbing circumstances, so we have tried to keep our emotions in perspective.  But it would be dishonest to minimize the intensity of our reunion in Cape Town on Friday morning.

Sam & Dixie were delayed leaving Antarctica for the third time on Tuesday night (21/02) and we were suddenly faced with an additional four days apart.  That impotency - that helpless passivity of an additional wait - began to eat at our courage.  It became necessary for action, and it was with renewed energy that I called Sam's girlfriend Seraphine to ask if she could drop everything and join me on a trip to meet our "adventure dudes" for their arrival into Cape Town.  If Dixie and Sam couldn't get to us, we would get to them.  Within 15 minutes the flights were booked and a generous lodging solution was found for our understanding 10-year daughter who encouraged me to "Go get Papa and bring him home!" Thank you, Stefan & Hilde!  We left a gray and rainy Belgium two days later at the same moment that Dixie and Sam departed the NOVO/ALCI Airbase from Antarctica.  Dixie and Sam arrived first into South Africa and thereby reversed the welcome procedures.  They would greet us.

Flying through the night from London to Cape Town my thoughts raced ahead of the airplane to our destination.  It took some powerful music through my noise-cancelling headphones and a nice glass of wine to create the proper atmosphere of release.  By the time we had crossed the last dunes of the Sahara, I felt the weight of the expedition drift from my body.   Sleep was elusive but rest was happening.   Our plane crossed the equator and entered the southern hemisphere in the dark of night and at that moment I smiled to realize that this moment was finally happening … after four months I would see my husband again.

We landed in Cape Town on a spectacular summer morning, with vivid blue skies and piercing sun.  The customs and immigration procedures seemed to take forever, and our impatience mounted as we knew that Dixie and Sam were on the other side of the wall still separating us.  But finally, after a full hour of missing luggage and a final security inspection, we were passing through the doors to the arrivals area.

And there they stood.

Dixie's smile lured me to him.  The joy of the moment is difficult to express, but the one reflection that I have is of weightlessness.  

We have spent the last two days excitedly catching up on our full lives.  We will face many responsibilities when we return to Belgium on Tuesday (28/02) and we need this time to put "our ducks in a row."  The South African sun is loading energy into our veins and the blissful hours together are pure … pleasure.

The stories of the expedition come and go, just as Seraphine and I share anecdotes of our activities that took place in the "real" world over these last months.  Neither Dixie nor Sam seem agitated by the sounds, sights, and other stimulations of Cape Town - after so much time on the ice one is always a bit assaulted by car horns or loud voices.  They both just seem thrilled to be experiencing it all again.

Most of all, we feel blessed on every level. 

And we look forward to giving back upon our return.

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles



Back in Cape Town!

24 February 2012
Back in Cape Town!

The Boys are Back in (Cape) Town!

Dixie and Sam have landed safely in Cape Town today on their way back home. We 'll welcome them back in Belgium on Tuesday February 28. They plan to exit the gate in the arrival hall at Brussels Airport between 12.00 pm and 12.30 pm.

We would like to invite you all to participate in the Meet and Greet at the airport.  

See you all there !!



Delayed Departure from NOVO/ALCI Airbase

21 February 2012
Delayed Departure from NOVO/ALCI Airbase

Dixie and Sam are still in NOVO/ALCI Airbase.

Due to weather delays, they will be there at least through February 23rd.

We are doing everything we can to bring Dixie and Sam home as soon and as safely as possible.  But as we all know, nature has the last word.

Our new plans have Dixie and Sam arriving home in Belgium in the late morning of Tuesday, February 28th.

Until then, we'll keep you updated.

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles



Last days at Novo/ALCI Airbase

19 February 2012
Last days at Novo/ALCI Airbase

Last days at Novo / ALCI Airbase

Yesterday we received this report from Sam. He and Dixie are still at Novo / ALCI Airbase. Next week they will fly to Cape Town.  Sam wrote: "My muscles are working smoothly as we are running through this magical landscape. The sun is peering over the clouds and the wind died down to a comfortable 10 knots. Next to me Dixie is moving well as he is trying to find the best route over these frozen grounds. There is ice, there is soft snow, there is hard snow and there is everything in between. We are following the route from Novo to the Schirmacher-oasis (some 12 km from Novo). It is good to stretch our legs after these long days of hiding inside for the storm. For the last couple of days you couldn't see a thing outside. Even trying to find the mess-tent was a challenge. Right now we can see the mountains surrounding us again. As we are moving away from Novo the sun is starting to sink on the horizon painting everything in the most breathtaking colours. Dixie and I share our feelings of utmost gratitude being able to be here to experience these intense moments. After about an hour we are almost at the Schirmacher Oasis and decide to return to Novo in order to make it back before dinner. As we are running back we both have to admit to each other we feel our old sores from the expedition flaring up.

Nothing serious but just a dull ache. For me it's my ankle, Dixie is feeling his knee. Oh, by the way, concerning that ankle, after I infiltrated the surrounding area the pain got a whole lot better. I must say I don't like to do such things. I hardly use painkillers at all to be honest but the pain I experienced before I took care of it was just unbearable. After taking of my shoes I could not walk and in the morning I was limping to my ski's before we got going. A good thing I had everything with me to take most of the pain away so we could continue.

After our run we enjoyed a great shower and an awesome meal and now we're just chilling in our cozy container. Life is good in Novo but I must say I'm really starting to look forward to see all my beloved ones again. It is amazing how much energy I got from everybody at home. Just thinking about Seraphine, my parents, my sister, my friends, ... it really kept me going. I can't wait right now to share stories next to the hearth and tell everybody how much I love them. That is one of the great presents an adventure like this gives you. You realize in new ways how much the people around you mean for you and how deep the gratitude goes you feel towards them.

Yesterday, at dinner, we heard Alexey Turchin died. Mr. Turchin was the head of ALCI, the organization running this whole operation. Everybody was very shocked by his sudden death and we all ate in silence, drinking some shots of wodka in remembrance of him. Both Dixie and I wish to share our condolences and although we never met him he must have been a very inspiring man.

Things like this make you realize again life is short and we should be grateful for the things given to us, making the best of our lives for us and those surrounding us while we can."

On Friday February 24 Dixie and Sam will be back home in Belgium. We 'll welcome them at the exit gate of the arrival area at Brussels Airport between 12 and 12.45 pm.

Posted by Stefan Maes, Expedition Coordinator



Storm at NOVO/ALCI Airbase

16 February 2012
Storm at NOVO/ALCI Airbase

Dixie and Sam are enjoying the warm Russian hospitality of the NOVO/ALCI Airbase. The conditions outside are quite forbidding, but an Antarctic storm in a base camp seems a bit less dramatic than from a tent on the high plateau.  Dixie sent an e-mail last night to describe their first full day at NOVO:

"The weather forecasters were right.  Stormy and snowy are the conditions right now and this volatile system should be here for the coming two days.  Antarctica displays so many faces and we human beings simply have to adapt.

Sam and I are normally pretty much locked up in our containers in such weather, but this morning we had a wonderful surprise at breakfast: an invitation to go to the Oasis, a dream-like camp which is close to the Russian scientific base.  The Oasis is an assembly of 4 cabin-style wooden houses about 12 kms from our airway strip lodging and is run by Vladimir Baranov, a real polar veteran with a long list of credentials.  Vladimir has now become host and 'entertainer' of Oasis.

There is a Russian-style sauna, complete with outdoor cold shower and outdoor cold bath to cool off in between sessions in the steamy aromatic sauna.  There is also a separate washing room and a heavenly relaxing room.

We exchanged a lot of stories and consequently were invited in the gathering place where Vladimir and his companion had prepared blinis (crepes), to go along with the compulsary vodka ... Vladimir knows.  That's why he did a serious toast to Sam and me and then invited us to sign his big book of polar travellers, an impressive collection of autographs from fellow adventurers who have crossed his path over the years.

Vladimir probed for my future activities and I told him that I have now equipment stored at Novo airbase to accommodate 10 clients and that I have plans to guide, so we would see each other soon in the future.  Dressed in his vest full of badges and wearing a cowboy hat, he thought that was wonderful news.

After this luxurious morning, Sam & I drove back to our digs for lunch. The jeeps have now replaced the rougher caterpillars as standard transportation. We just feel so fortunate.

All of our gear has now been sorted and dried out completely and is ready to retire for the upcoming winter in the big storage tent, together with the rest of my guiding equipment."

Sounds like someone is preparing a return to Antarctica before he has even left !?!

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles



Antarctic Cupid

Antarctic Cupid

Sam plays Cupid  ~

Here is his unedited e-mail that arrived just in time for our Valentine evening:

"As I'm on my way to take a shower I run into Chuck. Hmm, before I continue, allow me to tell you how much I appreciate a good shower after all those days without one. Anyway, so I run into Chuck and ask him if there is any news. "Yep, we're flying, we got a short window, they will take us to the runway in about an hour."

I enjoy the shower, get my stuff together and as Dixie and I are pulling the heavy outer door behind us shut we can already hear the humming sound of the orange, prehistorical snowtank. A lot of our Russian friends are coming along to wave us goodbye. Progress has been good to us. It's about an hour of driving to the runway and again the beauty of this area strikes me. I feel very grateful we could be here and witness this part of Antarctica.

An hour of being tossed around in this noisy transportation device is just about enough. It is amazing though how those caterpillars dig their way through soft snow and crawl up and down the steepest hills. Anyway, the Basler is waiting for us and before we are truely standing still Chuck and his three comrades start digging out our aircraft and are preparing this mighty Iron Bird for the 8 and a half hour flight to Novo. We are invited into a little container next to the airstrip and enjoy some coffee and cookies with the Russians. Somehow everybody is still thinking we are starving. But I don't mind... I could eat 6 times a day no problem. As the airstrip cook starts warming up his pans to do some more serious cooking we have to go. But somehow the Russians stall our Canadian Basler crew long enough so we can enjoy some cotage-cheese pancakes made by our great cook.

Soon enough we are up in the air and as I look around again I fall completely silent inside. It is so beautiful, this coastal area. The ice from the plateau that plunges into the ice, drawing row after row of crevasse only to become these great icebergs in the sea. The clouds are dark and grey above the sea, white and light above the plateau. The rocky mountains are darting in between all of this, sticking out proudly and clearly marking and guarding the border of this amazing continent. Real soon we are flying above the plateau again. Endless white plains stretching out as far as the eye can see. You can clearly see all the sastrugi, even from this height. Again I start to look at our trip in a different way, we truely travelled amazing distances. Not so long ago, Dixie and I were just two specks of breathing, warm flesh in this icy desert forsaken of all life.

The 8 and a half hours fly by as I am reading on my iPod and enjoy a good nap. Dixie and I share some food and water and after about 6 hours Dixie draws my attention. Talking is kind of difficult since we are wearing ear -plugs. That really is a downside of those baslers, they are so very, very noisy. Anyway, so Dixie draws my attention and to our right we can see the Belgica-mountains. Really beautiful, once again. My silly attempts trying to describe this sight is doing no justice to it all. Let me just say that again I felt very lucky and blessed getting to experience all of this.

Not too much later we were in Novo again. We were warmly welcomed by the Russians. We know these people and Novo kind of feels like coming home. As we are transporting our luggage in a container the cook comes to us, shakes our hands enthousistically and invites us inside to come have lunch. There is a time difference of 5 hours so we kind of missed lunch but as I already said, one meal more or less, I don't care. There are very few people here. The season is over and everybody is cleaning up everything. There is a very special athmosphere here right now, very quiet.

Because of the storm that has been raging here for the last 5 days things look utterly different here! There are huge dunes of up to 3 meters around the containers. It looks very impressive and we have to climb two of these huge dunes in order to get to the mess-tent. The forces of nature here keep surprising me.

After lunch/dinner we get all our stuff out of the sleds and arrange it in a container here so it can dry. It is really dawning to me right now, this adventure is over. For 4 years Dixie has been gathering all this material.

We have so many great sponsors who have been delivering us all this great stuff. Our live depended on a lot of these things, other things made our lives out there so much easier. All our stuff has been so good for us.

Nonetheless, a lot of things starting breaking down near the end of the expedition. I can tell a lot of stories about that but that's for later, let me just say some things can only handle so much sastrugi and so many repairs.

We got a bottle of Champagne from our wonderful headquarters-team, Julie and Stefan. This expedition would not have been the same without them.

They did so very, very much for us and our gratitute towards them is endless. Dixie and I are going to have a little party here."

 



From Progress with Love

11 February 2012
From Progress with Love

From Progress with Love

Here is Dixie for ya!

While Sam was a night raven last night being patient with the very slow internet connection and needed to catch up on some sleep during the day, it was a good time for me to go through our imagery for the first time.

As energy was a rare commodity out on the ice and did not allow checking photo and video images that we had taken, here we suddenly have the luxury to use electricity...  We are still with one leg on the ice, so we'll save the full impact of photo and video for later, but we have a wealth of images to spice up the 3D film that we are envisioning.

In the afternoon, Sam and I went for a hike in the surrounding mountains, enjoying the windless serenity and really basking in the feel of land, rocks and the surrounding ocean, in stark contrast with the immense ice mass that we lived in on expedition.

The lifeless atmosphere imposed by ageless rock and immense icebergs, was suddenly disturbed by 6 rockhopper penguins (see picture) that could have cared less if we came by. They must have climbed with gusto from the lower-lying regions to just be there, sunbathing and just being.  No food to be found there, but sometimes we all do things without much purpose I guess.

Tonight we have the visit of an Australian delegation from Davis station. It is a linguistic change from Russian to Ozzie-talk. Looking forward to another walk when the setting sun painting the white of the surrounding ice into shades of greenish purple and rosy red. Add to that the glow of the big moon and you feel you are on another planet!

The weather in Novo should slowly ameliorate tomorrow and allow for our travels there on Monday. It sounds like we will fly straight through without a stop at Princess Elisabeth station, making for an 8,5 hrs flight.

Fine greetings,

Dixie



Progress

10 February 2012
Progress

Please enjoy this first update from Sam from Progress Station:

"I think we need few words to tell you how both Dixie and I were very relieved with the pick-up.

This has been an amazing adventure in the true sense of the word. We have been places no one ever went before. We dared to enter the unknown, to pioneer a new route, and to surrender to whatever came our way.

Day after day we have been giving the very best of ourselves. We know that we squeezed every possible km out ourselves and that shows in our daily average.

We are proud of those things but I think we are even more proud of the way we coped with all of the unforseen stuff that came our way. How do you handle life when everything around you starts to break down?

Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Dixie and I have been an awesome team.  We were physically exhausted and we were mentally tested to the max during the last 6 days of the expedition waiting for our pick-up.  Waiting for the airplane in a cold and noisy tent, constantly living in uncertainty was a true mental practice as well.

Chuck stretched the abilities of the Basler to the max and it must be said he and his crew did an amazing job. They were at our place as fast as they possibly could.  They initially flew over us twice, but couldn't see us because of the snowdrift and the setting sun. Eventually they saw me waving at them, standing on a big sastrugi. Our runway was far from perfect and the pilots could hardly find it in the middle of the thousands of sastrugi surrounding it but Chuck nicely put his steel bird right next to our tent.

He rocks! We owe him!

The pilots told us afterwards that between Progress and our place they had only seen endless, gnarly, huge sastrugi, so things would not really have gotten any better.

Anyway, we are very happy to be in Progress. Amazing surroundings here!

Slowly it's starting to sink in what we have accomplished and I must say, we are all smiles!!!"



Gratitude - Dixie and Sam are off the ice!

09 February 2012
Gratitude - Dixie and Sam are off the ice!

16:31 UTC:

Dixie and Sam were expertly picked up from their final campsite and safely flown to Progress Station.

The entire Antarctic ICE Expedition Team would like to thank the amazing teamwork of the TAC/ALCI Logistics Team.  Their expertise in a vast continent is simply astounding.

In particular, our deepest thanks go out to our trusty pilot "Cowboy Chuck," the epitome of adventure:  he and his operations team allowed for the calculated risk to go in and get Dixie and Sam in less than ideal conditions.

Everyone safe, everyone grateful.

Dixie called just before leaving their final camp.  With the roar of the airplane engines in the background, he exclaimed: "It's a full moon!  There's a full moon guiding us home!"

More news tomorrow ... after warm food and deep sleep.

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles



Patience

08 February 2012
Patience

Dixie and Sam are still at their final camp waiting for a pickup.

Since Friday night, we have been trying to get all of the pieces of the logistics puzzle to fit together in order to commence with the pickup.  We have needed an airplane with rested pilots, good weather at Dixie & Sam's location, good weather at NOVO Station, and good weather at Progress Station.

Earlier today, a Basler aircraft arrived at Progress Station from NOVO.  It's sole mandate:  to pickup Dixie and Sam.  This airplane will not return to NOVO without them.  So the logistics equation has simplified greatly.

We are also happy to hear that our pilot for this mission is once again ... Chuck!  Chuck was the talented pilot who completed the first pickup back in November when Dixie and Sam decided on a re-start.  It is a nice harmonious twist to have him make the final pickup from the ice.

Word for the day: patience.

Word for the expedition: safety.

Once the pickup is complete and we can report a safe arrival at Progress Station, we will let you know.

 

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles



 

 



Hitchin' A Ride

06 February 2012
Hitchin' A Ride

The pieces of the logistics puzzle are beginning to fit together.  What respect we have for the TAC/ALCI team in Antarctica!

Dixie's wise decision to make their current location the ending point of this expedition has proven itself over the last several days.  An immediate "lift" does not happen in this neck 'o the woods just by sticking out one's thumb.  Although the weather is not cooperating for the moment, the terrain at Dixie & Sam's camp is conducive for polar aviation.  With so many intricate pieces to the logistics equation in this area of Antarctica, it is a relief to not have to worry about sastrugi being thrown into the mix.

Over the weekend, the aircraft was made ready for the journey, but the weather then made it impossible to pick up Dixie and Sam.  However, the forecast for the next 36 hours shows remarkable improvement.  Our next attempt could be tomorrow morning, but we are all waiting patiently until that time in order to hear of a safety-based decision for everyone involved.

Dixie and Sam sound fine on the phone.  They are clearly ready to complete the journey, but they also are allowing themselves the luxury of time to quietly contemplate an amazing expedition.  The last time we were organizing a pickup was back in November when the very expedition was at risk.  The fact that they re-started, traveled over 5000 kilometers, stayed completely autonomous, and established a new world record ... these are milestones to be reflected upon with a certain amount of pride.

Our "back office" team here in Belgium has also been using the last few days to process the myriad of congratulatory messages which have been pouring into our mailboxes and telephone answering machines.  Dixie and Sam will see all of the messages when they reach a base camp - for the time being their solar panel just doesn't want to fully charge the computer.  On behalf of Dixie and Sam, THANK YOU for recognizing their accomplishments and for taking the time to send such wonderful messages.

We'll keep you posted on their pending flight ...

- posted by Julie Brown, Polar Circles

 

 




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