A week at home or wintering in the Arctic. Polar explorers shared their experience of isolation

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Employees of Russian Arctic National Park shared their experience of living in isolation in the Arctic. Seasonality of work and its duration caused by logistics and climate is its main feature on this remote territory. The employees of the national park are isolated in the Arctic, usually from June to October, without benefits of civilization usual for residents of a metropolis. There are also those people, who stay for winter, and then the isolation mode lasts for six months or longer, and takes place in more severe conditions of the polar night at low temperatures.

Artyom Polikarpov, a specialist of the division of ecological education and tourism of Russian Arctic National Park, has been accompanying tourists in arctic expeditions on the nuclear-powered icebreaker “50 Let Pobedy” for two years in a row. A linguist and an interpreter by education, Artyom together with other employees ensures safety of tourist groups and crew members of the icebreaker during landings on islands of the Franz Josef Land archipelago and the North Pole. In 2019 Artyom spent more than two months in the Arctic. According to him, on the icebreaker people should stay within the limited space, and there is no escape from it, except for planned landings. But being on the deck of the icebreaker always allows observing something unusual and unique - glaciers, picturesque arctic islands, arctic animals and birds, icebergs of various shapes and sizes. According to Artyom Polikarpov, any physical activity helps and makes feeling better in isolation on ships. In their free time on the icebreaker the employees of the national park regularly visit a gym and a swimming pool.

“The swimming-pool is special there; it is filled with water taken from overboard of the icebreaker and of course heated to the required temperature. Thus, everyone, who swam in the swimming-pool, can consider that he or she bathed in the Arctic Ocean and the Barents Sea”, said Artyom Polikarpov.

According to him, in isolation it is very important to find common language with colleagues, neighbors, it is unacceptable to conflict.

“If you don’t like something or someone, you have to take a hold on yourself. In extreme cases, you can express your opinion to your colleagues in the most polite, objective and correct way”, he said.

In addition, Artyom called active work and competent supply of necessary products and other necessities as important conditions for successful life in isolation. On the icebreaker the employees of the park are provided with food and bed linen, and everything else must be provided independently.

Daria Antufyeva is Artyom’s colleague, a specialist of the division of ecological education and tourism of Russian Arctic National Park, one of the few women, who regularly goes to long field expeditions. Last year the young woman spent two cruise voyages in the Arctic, after which she stayed till the end of the season at the stationary field base “Omega” on an island of Alexandra Land.

“For me the lack of communication with the outside world is the most beautiful thing in the Arctic. Therefore, when I arrived in “Omega” having Internet, I did not use it intentionally for a month, I had a rest”, Daria said. – “Feeling anxious and worrying about your relatives, people you love, is the only minus. Apart from that, you quickly get used to life without chatting and surfing the web and start living in the real world”.

An employee of Russian Arctic National Park, a state inspector Dmitry Ryumin knows, perhaps, better than others, what complete isolation means. Together with his colleague Denis Mennikov they wintered at the stationary field base “Omega”, performing daily tasks of patrolling the territory and maintaining the life support of the polar station.

“It happened so that I spent two seasons in a row in the Arctic. The first was in summer, at the polar station in Tikhaya Bay, I welcomed tourists and worked at the station. It was quite easy: summer, polar day, a large number of people around. The season passed quickly”, as Dmitry shared. – “And the second season, in winter, was already on Alexandra Land at the stationary base “Omega” of the national park. In winter the situation changes: it is always dark outside the window, and live communication is minimized. It is slow paced life. I can honestly say that this is an introvert’s dream. I am very happy here, but I miss my family and relatives. And I really want some potato chips”. The polar explorers admit that it is easy to winter in the Arctic, if to be mentally tuned to long life being regulated with a strict daily schedule, it needs to follow daily routine and traditions (the New Year’s Holidays at “Omega” are celebrated strictly, as well as the first sunrise at the end of February). According to the winterers, daily work and clear planning of actions is the most important stimulus not to become tired in isolation.