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Thursday, November 25, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World by Robert Glenn Ketchum

  The North Pole:  Sitting on Top of the World

by Robert Glenn Ketchum




In 1998, and again in 2002, I had the opportunity to visit The North Pole, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, and Yuzhny. Both times the journey was made possible aboard a nuclear Russian ice-breaker. These were unusual voyages into a strange-beautiful landscape, like no other on the planet, so hop aboard, and I will take you to some places you might not ever see otherwise.  
~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Thursday, November 25, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #6
North Pole #6:  
When the copter returned (last post), they reported seeing no open water, so the plan of attack for the day was to increase the boat speed and crush our way through, and when I say crush, I mean exactly that. Taking a circle flightsee around our boat, this picture captures the modest action we are practicing. You can see the plates breaking apart as the Sovetski Soyuz rams into them. The ice cover here is 6-12” thick, but in two days, we would find ourselves amidst plates that are several feet thick, and regularly our forward progress would grind to a halt, so the captain would have to back up, get a new head of steam, and then ram forward for a few more feet. It was an exhausting process, and why I refer to the effort here as “modest."

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

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______________________________________________________Thursday, November 18, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #5
North Pole #5:  
The ice-crunching got louder all night long, and when I went out on deck in the morning, it was apparent why the noise volume had increased. There is little open water now, and the plates are not only thicker, but they have built up ridges from slamming together. We have another two days before the captain believes we will reach to North Pole, but he has also said that it will depend on the ice conditions. I don’t know what you think, but this looks intimidating right now.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
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Thursday, November 11, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #4
North Pole #4:  
The farther north we navigate, the more the ice closes in front of us. There are still patches of open water, but the ice plates floating on it are more robust, and growing thicker. For the first time you can hear the reverberations of the hull slamming into the plates, a sound that will become increasingly more intense in the coming days. For sense of scale about this boat, note the four people standing on the bow.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
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Thursday, November 4, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #3
North Pole #3:  
The further north we go in our journey, the more the open water disappears, and the polar ice begins to assert itself. At first, it is a thin, and broken, surface coat above the still visible ocean, and there is no real ice breaking to be done. The power of our boat plows through this effortlessly. With every hour, however, the surface becomes increasingly congealed, and the ocean water less visible. It is also noticeably colder outside, and we encounter more weather, and gray days as well.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
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Thursday, October 28, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #2
North Pole #2:  
After leaving the harbor of Murmansk our icebreaker headed north and for the first several days running, we had decent weather, and open, ice-free water. The Russian nuclear ice-breaker that we are on is a huge, powerful boat, that can travel relatively fast given its size. There are numerous decks, and captain’s bridge is some 80ft. above the water. We are welcome to wander anywhere except the engine room, and many of us regularly sit on the long padded bench at the back wall of the captain’s bridge to watch the Arctic world go by without standing in the chill of the breeze outside. On the lower levels are a huge dining room, and a full sized basketball court, which can be converted to play tennis, and is also used for dancing to live music performances. A variety of birds follow our progress, as the wake we stir up brings fish to the surface, which they feed upon.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
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Thursday, October 21, 2021

The North Pole: Sitting on Top of the World, #1
North Pole #1:  
In July of 1998, I was invited by my alma mater, UCLA, to participate as a guest lecturer on an alumni expedition to the North Pole, aboard the Soviet nuclear powered ice-breaker, Sovetskiy Soyuz. I would fly from Los Angeles to the Russian city of Murmansk, one of the northernmost ports of the country, and there I would join other alumni members, and board the icebreaker. Upon arrival, our luggage was taken from the airport to the ship, and we were taken by a bus for a visit around the city. Murmansk is an unusual place because it is home to a great part of the Russian fleet, and so we were told that during our tour, we were not allowed to take any photographs. I also knew that when their nuclear submarines aged, they brought them to the harbor in Murmansk and sank them, to keep them from melting down. (You don’t want to be eating any locally caught fish!) After the tour about the city, we were taken to the icebreaker, assigned our rooms, and told to pull the shades down on our windows, until the ship had left the port. I was determined, nonetheless, to have at least one picture of Murmansk, so in the light of late evening, I lifted the cover of my porthole wide enough to stick my lens against the glass, and took this.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021,
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
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