round-the-world yachtswoman, one high-altitude mountaineer, and one
Norwegian dog-racing expert, 24 dogs bred to run, add herds of
several thousand reindeer, mountains, lakes, lots of snow and place
deep in Europe's last wilderness, the Norwegian Arctic. What
do you have?
The Nordkapp 2004 expedition, with Rona Cant &
This expedition has now been successfully
71° 10' 21": At 13.50 Western European time on Wed 21 April
2004 the Nordkapp expedition reached its objective. Three tired mushers
and 26 tired dogs (one so tired she was being given a lift in a sled)
arrived at the northern-most point of Europe, the Nordkapp. We cracked
open a bottle of champagne and celebrated the successful conclusion to 11
days of travelling.
It has to be said that the wilderness is not what
it once was and we were greeted by a visitors centre and a coachload of
tourists all frantically photographing the dogs. Nevertheless we could
look out over the deep blue sea, lying calm under stormy grey skies, and
know that nothing lay between us and the North Pole.
All that remained
was a line of sled tracks stretching across 528 kms of snow, some 4
million paw prints from the dogs, gradually melting away in the spring
sunshine, and some terrific memories.
Goodbye and happy travels from the Nordkapp 2004 team.
For the dispatches from the trail, click
Q: So how do you run a website from the back of a
dog-sled, on the move through the Norwegian Arctic, in average
temperatures of -20C?
We have been swamped with emails wishing us good
luck and god speed on our trip. Thanks to all of you who have emailed and
phoned. Your support means a lot to us.
- You have nothing but my complete and utter admiration. Go Girls.
- Sound awfully adventurous. Have fun. Roland Magg.
- I know you
have experience in cold climates but please keep your extremities
warm. Mine still bother me after 1944-45 in Europe. Ed
Will follow your journey with interest with children at school.
Special prayers of peace at this Easter time surround you. Take care.
- Wow what a challenge. Kevin.
- I am sure there will be an abundance of marvelous vistas as well as
fulfilling experiences. I wish you and your team the Best of Luck.
- sounds absolutely terrific . . . . Good Luck! Jenny.
keep my fingers crossed for you every time you go for an adventure:
Sending you all our love and support, Rebeca and little
- Sounds like a great adventure about to start! Safe Travels. Colin
- I do hope you have a wonderful trip - wish I was going too!
- Have a super journey. Enjoy the challenge. God Bless, Agnes
- Wishing you success and - a lot of pleasure. It will really be
silent up there! Apart from the dogs' noises, and even they can be very
silent. Claudia Shade.
- I wish you and Rona all the strength and powers of endurance you
need for this adventurous trip! Irina
- I wish you lots of success. With your track record and
professionalism, this adventure will become again a future reference on
how to achieve great challenges. Wim Mangodt
- Good luck, enjoy, it looks extremely exciting, Karen Ballantine
- I wish you a FANTASTIC adventure with lots of laughs, amazing sights
and a healthy, safe return!! Tracy Plaice
- Your dog sled adventure will be one of a kind, sounds great, good
luck and have fun. Ravi Chandran.
- wow thats great stuff, good luck. Don MacRobert. PS can I lend u a
hot water bottle
- the trip sounds amazing!! Margaret Gee
- you are in our prayers...all of you.... Bill Lauterbach
08 April: Picture below left: Rona and Cathy
downing the coffee to try and stay awake at Heathrow, waiting for the
flight out to Oslo.
07 April Cathy: Picture above right:
Myself trying to sort and pack all the communication equipment
needed to run the website. In fact it comes down to the Iridium satellite
phone and the Ipaq PDA that I am holding in my hands. But
super-lightweight gear still comes with a jungle of wires and batteries
07 April Rona: Having got over my panic
attack on Monday, when I was physically ill, we've got to the point where
there is nothing left to do but pack and go. It will be great just to get
out there, away from all the preparations. What isn't done now isn't done.
We just have to go...
Click here for a farewell video from Rona (Broadband
07 April 20.10 Cathy: Rona and I are in
her flat in Oxford, doing the final packing. The entire floor of her
living room is covered with technical kit - batteries, chargers, leads,
and fancy light-weight gizmos. They may each be very dinky but when you
put it all together there seems to be a hell of a lot of stuff. With large
numbers of people wanting to know about the expedition, we alternate
between taking phone calls, sending emails, doing sporadic bits of
packing, and remembering things we don't have and should nip out and buy
(actually that is just me - Rona seems more organised).
I have a scare
yesterday when I realised we didn't have the lithium AA batteries that are
the source of power for the website technology - the PDA and the sat
phone. I couldn't find any in Andorra, so as I travelled today, Rona has
been scouring the countryside of Oxfordshire looking for batteries. Which
she found, saving the day for the entire communications
07 April 09.01 Cathy: At Barcelona
airport, with all of 21/2 hours sleep on the bus to here. I am not feeling
at my brightest. One day I will leave on an expedition beautifully
organised, but this definitely isn't that trip. But I love technology when
it works, as I update this website, standing outside the business class
lounge using their unsecured wifi access.
I'm already getting strange
looks from airport security as they examine the cold weather battery packs
that will power the video camera during the expedition.
06 April Cathy: 20:34 and counting. I
should be packing but I am keeping the time from 1am to 3am for that. For
me this is the final countdown. I catch a bus at 04.30 tomorrow morning to
go first to the UK to meet up with Rona, and then on to Norway the next
For complicated reasons, I only got the communications kit today.
I am still trying to get it all to work. Not a good thing to be doing when
tired and in a hurry. So far I have received some brilliant support from
both Altaire, who are
hosting this website, and from ExplorersWeb, who have supplied the comms kit. Sitting
in Andorra, I have tech support people backing up this expedition in
London, Stockholm and New York. Truly an international enterprise.
have a sinking feeling that I will be working right through until its time
for the bus. That gives me 7 good hours, as long as I can keep awake!
|Daily Express - 5 April
Look out for an article
about Rona and Cathy's trip in the Daily Express on Monday 5
05 April Rona: Sky TV made it - they called
to say what they would be asking me and then over a very crackly line
asked the questions in such a roundabout way that it was quite difficult
to realise that these were the same questions. Anyway, the interview
was done and went out Sunday morning and they are sending me a tape of it.
I kept hearing dogs barking in the background which was a little
distracting. But something we will get used to no doubt. Why do they ask
you questions that you can't possibly know the answers to until you get
30 March Rona: Eureka! We have our first
sponsorship cheque. It is a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Today,
quite unsolicited I received a cheque for £25 it felt sooo good. We only
have 9 days and £24,975 to go.
I spoke to one company today and
they may well be able to give us our passage back from Nordkapp on the
steamer as they own the steamer. He will let me know!
28th March Rona: Well it's been a
kaleidoscope of emotions as we come to the run up to the start of this
expedition. Cathy and I agreed that we had achieved a considerable amount
on our training weekend and I came back to England refreshed and ready to
really go for the sponsorship and follow up all the leads I could possibly
Interspersed with the sponsorship issue I had meetings and
talks to deal with as this was my career and I could not put it completely
on hold. There were telephone calls to Per-Thore's wife as last minute
arrangements were made so that we could organise the flights. I left this
to Cathy as it had defeated me and like the organised lady she is it was
soon dealt with.
I had my speaking career to deal with which
entailed going to Liverpool and Manchester. It is certainly good that
Cathy and Per-Thore are with me on the expedition as I managed to get lost
4 times, once in Liverpool and 3 times in Manchester. This trip meant that
the telephone calls had to wait until the following Monday when they all
started off again. It is soul destroying to sit on the telephone day after
day contacting companies, following up contacts and getting rejected time
and time again. But we still have 2 weeks until we leave so there's still
time to find a sponsor.
26 March Cathy: Perhaps surprisingly, with
our departure for Norway only two weeks away, the expedition is the last
thing on my mind. Virtually all the organisation has been done. The only
outstanding items are some specialised communications equipment that is
being sent from the USA. But even that has been dispatched, and is
somewhere in the air between America and Europe. There is nothing more to
be done until it arrives.
First priority now is to organise the rest of
my life, to get everything in order so that it runs smoothly during my
absence on expedition. Together with team-mates, I have already begun the
preparation for a big 2005 expedition, and all sorts of information needs
to be sent out before I leave. Similarly, all the organisation for my
corporate clients in late April and in May needs to be done now, before I
vanish for most of April.
The running saga of getting footage onto
Taken from emails by Rona:
11 March: As to Sky they are going to
film me in the gym and then I shall go into the Studio Saturday morning.
The idea is that they will put together photos/film from training weekend,
12 March: So I waited at the gym - standing very erect! at
2.30 I called Sky they had decided that the Spanish bomb was more
important scrubbed me but not told me! We love them. Apparently they
will do a live interview here with a cable van outside - should be
interesting - or we may be outside!
13 March: guy from the News
Desk called saying that yes they would come here on Saturday
film me. It was to go out live at 9.45. by 9.15 no
sign. I called and they were near but were sitting on one side of a
bollard waiting for the baker's van on the other side to move - why was
the only question that came to mind.
So they duly arrived and set up -
first time they had used that particular van and lots of techie problems
which were gradually sorted out. I spoke with the studio in London
and eventually we were ready to
roll. Then the girl comes rushing
over to say that they (we in Oxford) were transmitting pictures which were
getting to the satellite on the roof of the studio but they could not
download them. So that was the end of that interview.
March: have got back to Sky on interview they will call ...
The saga continues... Watch
March Pictures from the training weekend:
Rona: Well, I have just returned from our Andorra training weekend.
It takes a whole day of travelling to get there, so we were up at 4 on
Friday morning to catch the 7.20 from Luton. From Barcelona to Cathy's
house is a 4 hr coach drive, she lives in a lovely house in the old part
of La Massana. The mountains are incredible. They are all crowded one on
top of the other, the roads twist and turn through them giving great views
at every bend. It had not dawned on me how high it was above sea level,
training at 1800 metres. For Cathy, as an high-altitude mountaineer and
being born in Johannesburg, this was of no consequence. For this
round-the-world sailor, being born and bred in Essex and slightly
asthmatic, it was of some concern.
However, I need not have worried, I
could breathe and it was simply great being back in the snow and with the
dogs, who are of such diverse character.
There is a lot of work to be
done but I can't wait to start on this expedition.
Cathy: Rona and I have
spent the weekend in Andorra, getting to work with some local dogs and
sledders. It has been partly to get photographs and video footage to give
to our media partners before we leave for the main event, but also to
learn a few skills (for me) and brush up on a few skills (for Rona) to
give us a head start when we arrive in the Norwegian Arctic.
week has been a bit dispiriting as we chased hot sponsorship leads that
then fizzled into nothing, and this weekend has been a huge boost to our
morale - in beautiful landscapes with glorious weather, and handsome dogs
just dieing to run. It is a reminder that it is worth all the effort to
get this project off the ground.
Thanks to David and the Pal ski
resort in Andorra for allowing us to use their dogs.
29 Feb Rona: Cathy has
been over here partly for work and partly to take part in a number of
interviews that we have been having with various media contacts. The last
few days have been interesting and very exciting as we have been
interviewed by Bloomberg TV, LBC with Sandi Toksvig and just this morning
Central News came to film and interview us. It has also been an
opportunity for us to get to know each other better.
Cathy has now
gone off working on her speaking career whilst I have been exploring more
avenues for sponsorship. It certainly gets the emotions working as you
think you have a hot lead only to have your hopes dashed but persistency
will pay off, it is just a question of numbers!
morning we are heading to Andorra – for Cathy this is going home, for me
it is a new adventure. It is our training weekend when we make sure all
the communication and camera equipment is working and try out our skills
with dog-sleds. It will be a very effective training as the temperature at
the moment is –11 deg C.
It is just 5 weeks now until we head off
to the last wilderness
|Bloomberg TV - weekend of 28 and 29 Feb|
out for an interview with Cathy and Rona on Bloomberg Sport over the
26 Feb Cathy: It suddenly
dawned on me that this expedition is only six weeks away and we really are
going. For so many months it is simply a dream that you are trying to wish
into reality, and suddenly it is a reality that is approaching much too
fast. There is still so much to do!
The bad news is that the cameraman
that we hoped would be joining us has pulled out, so we are hunting around
to replace him at short notice. There are no concessions for the
cameraman, no snowmobiles to film from, or sleds for him to relax on. He
(or she), like everyone else, has to drive an 8-dog team every day, and
film in addition.
The good news is that we have a sponsorship prospect
simmering, although nothing is certain until the money is banked. And the
publicity portfolio - which is an essential part of the sponsorship
raising - is developing nicely. Yesterday Rona and I did the Bloomberg
interview that will air over the weekend. Today we did a live interview on
LBC. Everybody wants more information, to follow our progress and hear the
Meet the team in London - Wednesday 25 February 2004
The Explorers Club British Chapter and Boisdale
Present the second in their series of an Evening with
17 Feb Per-Thore: Looks
like that we are going to be famouse on or "little" dogsled trip.
have used the weekend to pack most of the dog food for the expedition + I
have been training the dogs quite hard. Yesterday I did drive a 12 dogteam
on a 35k trip, it was a fast on..... I only used 1 1/2 houre on it.
we won't be going that fast because of the weight of the sleds. Right now
it looks like that we will have a depot in Kautokeino. It will mostly be
dog food in the depot.
I will try to rent a cabin from the Norwegian
gouverment some kilometres from kautokeino - that could be the only time
on those 10 days we will be in a house.
We will stay in tent, and we
will have 2 of them. The tents are expeditions tent (simmular to those
that is used on Northpol expeditions)
14 Feb Cathy: Our
sponsorship director has slipped on an icy London pavement and broken his
collarbone very badly. And we thought the dangerous bit was the
The team is doing a quick reorganisation as we work out
how to fill Neil's role, while still keeping the rest of our lives on
Although it is always the expedition itself that gets the
attention, in fact it is little more than a great finale to months of
planning and preparation.
10 Feb Per-Thore: Right
now it's just to few houres in the day, it should have been 72 insted of
24. Im just finiched whit the last sled for the expedition ( 4 of them
I had a meeting whit my friend (Tom Frode Johansen) who has done
this trip before, and the planning on how far we shall drive every day -
where it's good place to put up the tents - how much dog food we need
etc.. are going well..
There will be a lot of weight on the sleds - we
ned for example 20 kilo of meat for the dogs every day + dry food. But
thats the easy things to find out. what takes time to put to gether is all
the bits and pieces that we need to repear the sleds on the trail.
the camp equitment is ok, I still had to order the tents and the sled
29 Jan Cathy:
Getting our web window open to the world has
been a great achievement. It has taken shape in the strangest places, on
aeroplanes, in hotels, right now at Barcelona airport, as I try to balance
making a living, keeping the expedition moving, and spending some time in
my new house in Andorra.
I am on my way home from a good few days in
London with Rona and Alex - the expedition publicist. It all seemed a
little more real in the middle of London's Big Freeze, with snow
blanketing the ground, and chaos on the streets and the train lines. On
days like that, we can only wish for the simplicity of a dog-sled. Might
cause something of a stir, though, sledding down Oxford Street.
chasing all the accessories of a modern expedition: publicity, contacts, a
television documentary, above all SPONSORSHIP. The path through the
Norwegian Arctic begins in the corporate head offices of London.
28 Jan Rona: I'm excited
about this - I have the T-Shirt -
Some people wish it would happen,
others sit and wait for it to happen, successful people make it
The latter fits us all!
Meet the team & hear the tale at the inaugural Johnnie Walker Black
|Venue: Travellers Club in Pall Mall|
Thursday 13 May 2004
Time: 18.30 to 21.00
obtain tickets write to:
GQ, Vogue House, 1 Hanover Square,
London, W1S 1JU before 5 May.
Snow, Sleds and Silence
Reserve a hot-off-the-press, first
edition, autographed copy of Rona Cant's forthcoming book
about this expedition:
Email Rona at email@example.com.
Follow the team in the
|Expedition updates are
▫ Sky TV
▫ Central TV
▫ Channel 6 TV (Oxford area)
▫ BBC Radio 5 Live with Eammon
▫ LBC Radio with Sandi
▫ Saga Radio
▫ BBC Radio Oxford Breakfast
▫ Radio Fox FM
Oxford Star (daily print)
▫ Geographical magazine (May issue)