For the third year in a row Global Ballooning Australia was invited to join Quark Expeditions in providing their guests with the amazing experience of Hot Air Ballooning at the North Pole.
In mid June myself and Viktor Myazov, our Yarra Valley pilot, left our not so sunny shores for the sea port of Murmansk in North West of Russia to join the North Pole expeditioners’ aboard the Russian Nuclear Ice Breaker ‘ 50 Years of Victory’.
Having failed to get the balloon up on either of the two voyages the previous year we were nervous that we might again be facing unsuitable weather and the cancelation of the North Pole ballooning program forever. We agreed at the beginning of the first voyage whilst there were 35 knots winds and high sea crashing into the bow as we crossed the Barents Sea that we would remain positive and manifest perfect conditions.
There is an old adage in ballooning, which I often repeat - better the weather bad now, as there is only one way it can go. We could not have imagined just how correct this statement and our manifestation could be as there was general agreement amongst the ships crew and expedition staff that there had never been better weather on two trips.
Not only did we experience perfect weather with blue sky and light winds, the ship was able to park itself (on the first voyage) directly at 90 degrees North due to the perfect ice. We where so thrilled to be almost on top of the axis of the world as we took nearly eighty guests up to look out over the never-ending expanse of ice. The absolute highlight for both Viktor and myself was the ability to leave the ropes behind and head off for a short free flight.
It would be unfair to make this all about ballooning, as a trip to the North Pole on the world most powerful icebreaker is something to behold. The crash, thunder and vibration of the ship powering its way through 1 to 2 metres of ice is worth the trip in itself - throw in Polar Bears, Walrus, Arctic Fauna and Flora and some of the most amazing and enthusiastic academics briefing you on the all things Polar - well it is the trip of a lifetime.
To think that of all the ballooning companies that exist in the world - Global Ballooning Australia was chosen by Quark Expeditions for its ability to get the job done and its international reputation is just incredible. They could not have chosen a company further from the North Pole. It is rewarding to see that our commitment to professionalism and service over the past 25 years can create such an opportunity.