Hello, and welcome to another episode of Coffeetime. This is part four in my Arctic Storytime Series where I tell the story of an expedition that I went on with Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield and nine other super cool creative people to the Canadian High Arctic through the Northwest passage where we got very close to the North Pole. If you missed the first three videos of this Storytime series I will link them up here in a playlist in order for you. The story starts where the last video left off which is on the west coast of Greenland.
At this point in the journey? because we were on an icebreaker, the ice breaker was breaking through sea ice and our goal was to get as close as we could to one particular glacier so that we could explore it in a really interesting way. So let’s talk about Fear. I feel like I need to preface the next part of the video with this.
I’ve always been super afraid of heights. I was so afraid of heights as a child that I would have panic attacks simply stepping on a step stool or even the first two rungs of a ladder. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I became a full-time travel photographer that I started to have to get over my fear of heights mainly Due to a lot of immersion and experiences that were constantly having me photograph things from very high places. I knew this trip was going to be a transformative trip in that regard because we did know that the icebreaker that we would be traveling on the Kapitan Khlebnikov would have two helicopters on it.
And we had already been told that we would be taking helicopters to very remote locations.
I think largely due to the structure of the trip, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about that fear because we were so busy and because our expedition was with Astronaut Chris Hadfield who is maybe one of the most exceptional human beings I’ve ever spoken to and spent time with and because I was also with these other people whose work I admired so much – a lot of that helped me just forget myself and step outside of being inside of my own head and embrace the moment.
We were told that afternoon by the expedition leader that we would be going up in a helicopter for the first time and this was going to be my first helicopter ride ever. And I was definitely very excited.
We entered this area a few hours ago It’s absolutely incredible! We’re essentially waiting to go on a helicopter right now to go over the Icebergs and the mouth of a glacier that’s right here.
I’m so excited! I have never been on a helicopter in my life. I mean there’s so much ice around me right now!
On that area over there – is the glacier and that’s where we’ll be going in the helicopter and I think it’s going to be a really cool time, so I’ll show you guys and hopefully take you guys up with me in the helicopter. How the helicopters worked on board the ship were that they would break us up into little groups that could fit in each helicopter.
Since there were two different helicopters they would go in rotation so one would take a group of five and go off and fly for around 10 to 15 minutes or thereabouts– and then come back to the ship and drop that group off and then take another group.
Because of that rotation you would spend some time waiting in line to get onto the helicopter.
The helicopter pilots at this point in the trip were Russian pilots who had years and years of experience. My first helicopter ride ever was with some of my favorite people now on this planet – which are Tom Scott, Tim Kellner, or TimtotheWild, Evan Hadfield and Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Not only that but I got to fly in the front seat!
The level of adrenaline In the group was palpable when we got onto the helicopter and my level of adrenaline was somewhere, you know up past orbit at that point.
We took off and I immediately was drawn to the incredible helicopter controls.
The controls were super cool – super cool.
I’m really into geeky controls like that.
I grew up being a really big fan of Star Trek and Star Wars, so to be in something like this and to have these controls right in front of me since I was in the front seat by the helicopter pilot was very intense.
And we took off and we went over the little bits of sea ice and Icebergs and made our way to the glacier. As you can see the glacier that we flew over was massive. And not just massive, it was almost impossible to figure out where it ended. Initially I really thought that we were just going to fly quite high above the glacier.
I would get some nice footage of it from a nice distance but no…. Our pilot whose name was Anatoly (love him!) decided to take us on the Arctic equivalent of the Star Wars Death Star Trench run and I… It was … I don’t know if I even have the words to explain what it felt like… Even looking at the footage right now, I’m transported back there, but it’s impossible to relay the feeling that was in my stomach and the giddiness that I felt at this point.
Between the scenery and the the fact that we were flying over a glacier that probably so few people have ever seen from this angle and the fact that the pilot was so skilled and such an expert at flying made it truly one of the most pleasurable experiences I had ever had.
In fact I can definitely tell you that there was not one point where I ever thought about being afraid – I was so in the moment and so perfectly part of everything that was going on that fear or panic was not at all in the headspace that I was inhabiting.
if you all haven’t seen Ben Brown’s incredible Arctic vlogs from our experience I implore you] when you get a chance to watch his video of this day – not only because his footage is absolutely wonderful but because he captured my reaction when I got off the helicopter. And I will forever be grateful for him for doing that because every time I have looked back at that clip I immediately feel exactly how I felt in that moment and that moment made me realize that everything I’ve ever been afraid of in my life was conquerable – that I could literally do anything if I set my mind to it and if I just took that step in front of myself and got out of my head and embraced the moment. But I hope that you enjoyed this video and this experience. I upload two videos a week on my channel.
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