Chef Sebastian, serves elaborate meals such as salmon and caviar, even after the guests have all gone home.
In my free time I did what I normally do in winter in Yellowknife: I strapped on my cross country skis. The only snow around was the stiff ice crystals the crew chopped up to provide a smooth runway for the planes.
T A view of the camp: staff tents, mess tent, and machinery. A colleague built a fortress of ice blocks around his tent to ward off the wind that rattles the tent and keeps us all awake.
The bathroom at the fuel depot is reminiscent of the elaborate thrones at the Snowking castle in Yellowknife. At times we would spend the night at the fuel depot when bad weather prevented us from flying back to camp.
his is home: three sea cans; seven fancy heated weather havens for the clients and a large industrial one for our mess tent. The rest of the clients stay at a camp nearby (like the NWT “nearby” in Antarctica is 130 kilometres). As for the staff, we sleep in small tents, the type you would use to camp off the Ingraham Trail. These tents were stored at a nearby cache in the late ‘90s and were soon buried in the ice. Twenty years later, they have a second life and are none the worse for wear. The constant sun forces me from my sleeping bag by 7 a.m. and I get flashbacks to camping at Reid Lake or Big Hill. The camp has a weather haven for a bathroom. Like the houseboat I live on back home, there’s a bucket for number one. A waterless, compacting toilet called a Pacto serves for number two. To get around, we drive old snowmobiles, Yamaha VKs. Like the tents, these were also rescued from the ice at camp after twenty years. We spend our days flying, hanging out in the mess tent, or hiking and skiing. When clients are around, the staff squeeze into the kitchen part of the tent to give them privacy. We’re an international crew, hailing from Canada, South Africa, France, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. We share stories with the same fervour we use to dig into Chef Sebastian’s meals of chicken pot pie, ostrich, or caviar. continued on p. 34