|The following piece is an interview between Dominick Arduin, the first woman to ski alone to the Magnetic North Pole, and Ilana Halperin. The conversation took place April 30th, 2002 in Ivalo, Lapland.
IH: I was wondering why you decided to make this trip by yourself to the Magnetic North Pole?
DA: It has been a dream for me for many years. My dream is to reach the geographic North Pole alone without resupply. But - because it is very, very difficult - I just think that maybe its better to start with something a little easier and to start with the Magnetic North Pole. Yeah - and so the Magnetic North Pole was my first stay before I go alone to the geographic North Pole next year.
IH: There are many stories that I have started to hear about your trip - I heard for instance that you met a polar bear when you were going - what happened?
DA: I was just...ummm...sleeping in the night and a polar bear came at 2:00 in the morning. He was just near my sledge but it was very calm and no problem. It was just smelling my sledge and going around my tent. I very slowly checked from the door of the tent and then I was shooting first in the sky and then shooting in the snow. The first time I was shooting the polar bear just stayed. He didnt move and then I shot in the snow near the lake. Then he was a little afraid and he went away but very, very slowly.
IH: Were you afraid in this time?
DA: Yes, of course you are all the time but it happened so fast. Everything happened so fast that you dont have time to think about something - you just go.
IH: How long did the whole trip take?
DA: Last year it took 35 days.
IH: And you were completely by yourself?
IH: When you are by yourself for that period of time and skiing by yourself how do you feel in such a big landscape?
DA: That kind of trip is not for everybody. You have to be ready to do that kind of trip and to do those things but I have been thinking about it for many, many years and I knew that I was able to do it. And when you start, and you know that you are able to do it, then you think quite differently.
IH: Each day when you are skiing do you just think about skiing or do you also end up thinking about many other things?
DA: Both, because sometimes you have problems with the navigation and then you have to to be very careful and just check all the time where you are going and you have the ice pressure all the time and you have to move slowly along between the ice. Then you just have to think - where can I go? and to check. You have no time to think about your life or family or anything like this. I just think - where shall I go? - and then pull my sledge and everything. In the tent in the evening you have more time to think but you are quite tired and you sleep quite fast.
IH: When you got to your goal, to the Magnetic North Pole, what did you do?
DA: I just go. I go very, very fast because I left my sledge and my tent 10km before the pole because it was very, very bad ice pressure before the poles. So I left the equipment and then I was running to the pole - yeah - and came back to my equipment. It took about six hours and when I reached the North Pole I just...ok... check I am here and put the flag in and then come back because the most important things was to to get back to get back my equipment, my sledge.
IH: Once you are skiing for that amount of time, when youre looking at everything what sorts of things do you start to notice? Does your vision become more and more sensitive to...
DA: I think so, yeah. For many, many things. Yeah. First you hear...you hear nothing nothing, just the ice moving but when you hear nothing for such a long time its quite incredible. You are in that total silence for one or two months and then of course the feeling is not the same anymore.
IH: And after being in that kind of silence how do you feel when you come back?
DA: This time I was away thirty five days. I think that next year I will be two months. It will be more difficult. It is difficult because when you come back you have all of the media around you and everything. Then you dont manage yourself anymore - you are just doing what the people tell to you to do - we go here, we go there and then you jump in a plane or a helicopter and you have no say.
IH: It is such an extreme shift...do you miss it now that youre back? You know you are going again but do you miss travelling in that way?
DA: This year I was in the geographic North Pole for two weeks for training. Yeah, I have been just for training and to prepare my trip before the next one...
IH: When is the next trip planned for?
DA: March/April 2003, one year from now. I hope that in one year to this day... My goal is to reach the North Pole on the first of May because its a festival in Finland and I hope so to do it.
IH: Did you take any form of communication?
DA: Yes, I have an Iridium telephone and so I can call Finland everyday.
IH: Ah yes, would you call in just to report and -
DA: Yes. Oh I call, I report how I feel and how it was there and how its going and everything. I try to speak a few minutes, yeah, and then people hear stories about me because if I am just saying Im here, I made 15 km today its not enough. People are waiting for stories...
IH: I heard one story but this is from some time ago about two Icelandic explorers that were going to the North Pole and they brought an Iridium phone with them and it was just at the moment that Iridium phones were going bankrupt and for one period of time they had communication completely cut.
DA: Yeah, maybe two years ago - but now its working very, very well.
IH: Well...I dont know if there are other things as well that are things that you would like to mention about your journey?
DA: Being on the journey is...ummm...always the same. You wake up in the morning, first thing that you do you call when your telephone is warm and then you make water, you taste water and then, uh, take down the tent, pack your sledge, and go and go and go til about 10, 12 hours, yeah, and then in the evening you put up the tent again and then everyday, everyday is the same.
IH: Is there much of a difference between the point that is the Magnetic North Pole and the point that is the geographic North Pole?
DA: At the geographic North Pole you have more open water and then you have to cross the open water...
IH: How would you...? Did you have a - ?
DA: I paddle on my sledge...but the North Pole is quite different for everybody. The people who manage to go to the North Pole have their own feeling and own technique for everything.
IH: When you were younger were you interested in the race to get to the North Pole first?
DA: Yes. For me, to reach the North Pole has, well, been a dream for really many, many years.