Crazy Musher http://crazymusher.com Crazy Musher Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:28:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Article 1 Demo http://crazymusher.com/2017/06/21/article-1-demo-slug/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/06/21/article-1-demo-slug/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:26:17 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=72 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse eget lorem eu purus gravida consequat.Integer cursus arcu ipsum, mollis volutpat dolor adipiscing vel. Quisque ornare
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Article 1 Demo http://crazymusher.com/2017/06/21/article-1-demo-slug-2/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/06/21/article-1-demo-slug-2/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:07:44 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=74 Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse eget lorem eu purus gravida consequat.Integer cursus arcu ipsum, mollis volutpat dolor adipiscing vel. Quisque ornare
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Welcome to the Crazy Musher website this Wednesday night. http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/welcome-to-the-crazy-musher-website-this-wednesday-night/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/welcome-to-the-crazy-musher-website-this-wednesday-night/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:38:09 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=50 This site carries a health warning – it is not suitable for sane people!


Have you ever decided to do something that most people would regard as completely bonkers? Were you regarded as barking mad, off your trolley, to put it mildly a few cents short of the full dollar?

Maybe it would be different if you were one of a dozen equally mad UK-citizens with a love of the outdoors? If it was for charity, and to aid research into some of the serious problems associated with global warming then perhaps it would even be acceptable?

If you are a closet tree-hugger with a love of the outdoors, and a soft spot for these guys on the left then read on. Not only will you enjoy what is to follow, but you may also decide to help in the 2007 quest. I hope that is the case.

Read the introduction next to find out what we did, and what the charity is planning to do in 2007….. I have updated all pages on the site, including the trip page to describe each day from my diary I kept out there, and I hope you enjoy reading it. As soon as I can I will ensure that all the smaller images can be clicked for the bigger picture, so please bear with me while I get that done.

Click here for the next page if you missed the subtle link above..!

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An introduction….. http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/an-introduction/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/an-introduction/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:32:57 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=47 Hello, and welcome. My name is Phil Jeffs , and this site is intended to record a crazy charity endurance event I have just completed. I’m just one of a dozen daft souls who felt they could raise some much needed cash for a great cause.

With this website I hope to highlight the need for continued work into polar research, and hopefully to give you a few laughs along the way, while we try to raise contributions for the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge (a registered charity).

So, were we doing? Well, as the name suggests perhaps, it involved a simple task of running a team of huskies pulling a dog sled for 150km in remote wilderness 250 miles north (inside) of the Norwegian arctic circle, in March 2006. Oh, and surviving temperatures of -30 degrees at night, having to drill frozen lakes for drinking water, and with no flushing toilets, showers, shops, TV, or other comforts whatsoever. And trying to avoid deep crevices, snowstorms, frostbite, and all manner of large wildlife were are trying not to think about! We did this crazy venture to raise funds for the research institute to enable it to continue its good work in such areas as polar research which affects us all.

Had I ever done anything like this before?- No! Did that matter – well you will soon find out! Most people who know me decided before I went that I was borderline certifiable and should probably be locked up for my own good…. Ha, what did they know? Quite a lot with hindsight! The exception is the person who got me into this, but more of that on the next page.

This site is intended to highlight the event to raise ongoing awareness for the charity’s excellent work, and to encourage you to part with a few bob to sponsor the 2007 event or even to take part? I’ve added the best of the post-event pictures on the gallery page.


Sit back, browse the site, and enjoy what I hope is a very personal journal of a journey of a lifetime, but please remember the sole aim of the trip was to raise awareness of the essential work being carried out by the SPRI, and their need for funding via charitable donations. Share in the pain, laugh at the conditions we endured, and admire the huskies. Should you be inspired to want to help the chosen charity as a result (which is the whole aim of course), but you don’t fancy being a crazy musher, then please pay a visit to the sponsorship page and make a donation. Even small amounts are a great help to their work. If you want to get involved in the 2007 event (are you mad??) then read on ….

If you want to help the charity from this site, then every page has a donation button on the LHS where you can send something online, or you can send a donation by cheque (made out to the ‘Crazy Musher’) to:

Philip Jeffs
Oswald House
284 Southtown Road
Great Yarmouth
Norfolk NR31 0JB

All donations (via online or by cheque) are held in a charity bank account, under the name of the Crazy Musher, with Lloyds TSB in Lowestoft. I can’t put the bank details on here now for obvious security reasons, but please be assured all donations raised do not go anywhere near my personal bank account, and are held securely by Lloyds TSB for the charity. The SPRI receive 100% of all donations.

Thanks for your support. Remember, you are helping future generations by your donation.

Please click here for the next page – The idea …

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The idea … http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-idea/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-idea/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:29:52 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=44 It started with my wife saying ‘What a great idea..’.

As my eyes caught the TV screen I saw a page of teletext and realised this was the source of the conversation. ‘Yeah, looks great’ I agreed while edging closer to the screen for my ageing eyes to adjust. ‘You’d be good at that’ my wife volunteered, and as the words began to clear from a jumbled mess to the English language I took in the message. Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge were looking for volunteers to join them on a fund-raising sponsored dog sled ride in the arctic circle. I stared at the screen. She couldn’t be serious? Didn’t she realise 2006 was my 50th year?

Hanging onto a small wooden sled that was being pulled by a team of large deranged huskies at full pelt, while trying to see obstacles ahead in the blinding snow, and in temperatures that would do severe damage to brass monkeys? Oh yeah, sounds like a breeze! The conversation ended right there. Unfortunately the idea didn’t, and it seemed that every conversation after that involved my wife saying ‘well what do you think..?’. She has encouraged me to do madcap activities in the past and I’ve flown a Tiger Moth, raced a Ferrari, and other daft stunts but this was different. This was extreme!

It seemed there would be a team of a dozen hardy souls risking life and limb to raise awareness of the charity’s work. The charity send research scientists to the coldest and most inhospitable places on the planet to try and find out how we can reverse some of the ravages man has made of this delicate planet. It sounded like a great cause and well worth supporting, especially as my wife and I have sponsored a little girl (Shagori Rani) through World Vision in Bangladesh for the last 10 years, and any impact of sea level rises would be felt most acutely there..

I contacted the Scott Polar Research Institute to ask what was needed to be considered as a member of the expedition. They sent me back a comprehensive brochure which I read cover to cover for days. I bounced the idea off friends, relatives, and work colleagues most said the same thing. ‘You’re mad’. My wife was the only exception and she seems to think I could actually do this despite what the rest of the world seems to think – a true ‘Musher supporter’.

OK then, clearly a ringing endorsement that I was on the right track! So on that positive note I sent off my registration form – if selected there would be no turning back now.

Still with me? Want to hear more? Read on….

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The website … http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-website/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-website/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:27:06 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=42 Guess what, out of all the applications the Institute received for the 2006 trip they selected me as one of their team. Did they know what they were doing? They must have been crazier than I am. However, as I was just one of a dozen in the UK team there must be eleven other people as barmy as me? (As they proved to be!!) Still we were now committed to raising a substantial amount of money in sponsorship for the Scott Polar Research Institute (the SPRI from now on).

As SPRI paid for all the flights, equipment hire, guides, food etc then each participant had to pledge to achieve a minimum donation of three and a half thousand pounds sterling. No pressure then! However that figure guaranteed at least £1000 to the charity, and of course we all hoped to raise more than that minimum amount (which we did). That needed publicity (as I personally didn’t know 3500 people with a quid each), and one way to achieve that was by using the Internet. It also allowed for easy updating of progress for my sponsors and supporters. But what sort of site to build?

It needed to be enjoyable and representative of my overall approach to such an event – serious on the fund raising part, and pretty laid back on everything else. It needed a domain name for the website, something catchy, something that could be passed on by word of mouth and email, something that epitomised (wow, great word) my intrepid outlook on life. In short something that held a clue to the event these crazy people were undertaking – simple when you think about it? Crazy Musher! (A musher is someone who drives a dog sled, oh never mind forget it, its not funny if you have to explain it).

One thing this site intended to do is to give as much publicity and profile to the SPRI as we could, and in whose name we were undertaking this mad event. They do fantastic work in trying to safeguard future generations from the effects of modern man’s pollution of the planet and continue to need your help (a blatant plug for donations!!).

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The trip … http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-trip/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-trip/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:24:20 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=39 It was a simple jaunt really!

We were to go to Alta in Finnmark (where?), which is in the northern polar region of arctic Norway. Try finding that on a map – here’s one I prepared earlier in true Blue Peter fashion. Whatever else it would be cold (and it was!!). If you want a bigger scale map please click on the image on the LHS side bar.

Day 1 – on 12 March 2006 we flew out from the UK to Oslo, and then north 250 miles beyond the arctic circle to Alta. Even this was extreme with us landing almost sideways on a frozen runway sticking out into an imposing fjord in Alta. We were then transported to the nearby settlement of Gargia where we were briefed on what to expect during the next 7 days. Notice they did so after we have left the airport so we couldn’t turn round and go home!

At Gargia we were provided with what the organisers called ‘additional equipment and clothing necessary to allow us to participate in what will be extreme conditions’ – read that to mean our arctic survival suits and boots that you will see in most of the pictures, but how glad we became to have it! We also got our first look at the 72 dogs that we would be taking on the trip, and the team were already sorting out favourites in their mind (oh yes you were!).

Day 2 – the following morning after a 6.30am start (which was to become a luxury!) we got our first chance to learn how to feed the dogs. Per Thore Hansen our Norwegian guide, leader, and general ‘guy who will be obeyed’ showed us how to mix up the high protein dog biscuits with a great chunk of reindeer meat into a warm soup which would be the dogs only food morning and night on the trip. We learned how to get a routine going of feeding the dogs a dozen at a time and then getting the bowls back to do the next lot. I know my team mates reading this will be amazed at how easy and simple that process became, but on this first morning it was daunting.

After breakfast and the ‘soon to become customary’ sandwich making duties we got our first look at a sled. It was a simple wooden device covered in canvass which was tied together with string rather than with nuts & bolts (as we were to learn this allows for it to flex properly while cornering). Per Thore showed us how to rig up the harnesses and leads, and how to apply the most vital piece of equipment – the snow anchor! Fail to use that and the dogs will keep running to the pole!! Then came the big moment, Per Thore started handing out the dogs to form our teams. I’ll explain more about huskies on their own dedicated page, but suffice to say here that there are many different types and some looked like overgrown house pets while others looked the part. I was first given a small white bitch called Costella and I’ll admit my initial reaction wasn’t anything to be proud of. I wanted a big strong husky not a little lean thing that looked undernourished (what a mistake…). Costella was to be my lead dog and would set the pace of the team, and what a pace she could set! She proved to be a fantastic runner and, despite the fact she had epilepsy which I continually had to monitor, she quickly took over my heart – big softie that I am. Next came Clara another bitch and a friend of Costella’s. Per Thore reasoned that with two females up front Costella would be more relaxed than having a male trying to get at her (she was in heat) and so would be less stressed and less likely to bring on an epileptic attack. This process of handing out lead dogs continued until we were all with our front pair.

Then came the big guys. These were the engine room of the team and the big pulling power. Per Thore once again started to hand out his dogs to us strangers who were going to be looking after them for a week. And didn’t we just know he was sizing us up as well as the dogs! The pairs were handed out until there were just a handful left. On the chains were a pair of the most handsome true-bred Greenland huskies and when Per Thore handed them to me I couldn’t believe it. They were truly gorgeous dogs who happen to be brothers. The one with the spot on his head is Toq, and the other more formidable looking one is Nanuk. They feature large in my pictures (see left). We then harnessed the dogs, were given just the the rudiments of steering and braking and, with a lot of swearing & cursing we were off to make complete idiots of ourselves (which we achieved with distinction!). Per Thore as ever making the whole process look like an afternoon stroll while we had teams tangled up, dog fights, and the inevitable person falling off resulting in a runaway team. Great start!

We travelled several km out of Gargia learning quickly how physical this dog sledding would be when you come to a hill, and we were then pulled up by Per Thore to put on our balaclava’s and face protection (goggles etc). This was done carefully with Per Thore checking our faces for any uncovered areas. With some trepidation we crested the hill onto the next high plateau and were met with fierce wind that was whipping up the snow into white-out conditions with -20 temperatures, and snow being driven into any small area of exposed flesh. Welcome to the arctic in winter! We endured another 25km of this to reach our first overnight camp at Souluvombi and then had to bed down the dogs, feed them, and then sort ourselves out for some food and crash out in our unheated and extremely basic cabins (after a quick trip to the outside loo which was simple a shed over a hole in the ground!). We were so grateful of that cabin just for the protection from the cold and wind. There were some very tired mushers on that evening I can tell you! Even so we had a final duty to carry out. We all were keeping diaries (which is how I can now write this) and so, by the solitary light of a head torch, we all quickly wrote up the days events before an everyone fell asleep and what can only be described as ‘a loud silence’ descended. There is no background noise whatsoever in the arctic, an you have to experience the power of true silence; we all came to enjoy it, and its the one thing we all now miss back in the UK.

The dogs simply dig out a shallow depression in the snow and then settle down into it for the night. No bedding or comfort whatsoever. Tell that to your own dog when he is lying in the warm on his own pet bed! They go to sleep after what was to become the regular night time howling competition. Some dogs were better than others, but the sound of 72 dogs howling into the dark, still night is something I hope I will remember for a long time to come. If you are going to go on the 2007 expedition I strongly suggest taking a small tape recorder to get that noise; I wish I had done so… Okay, that’s the end of the first full day. a lot of write-up to get you used to the routine, so from here on in I’ll not make too much reference to the chores of dog feeding, s**t shovelling(!), water gathering from under the lake or from a nearby stream, and food preparation (which I ducked completely all week due to my opting for dog duties in preference, and much to the relief of my team mates who needed sustenance not poisoning).

Day 3 – the next morning we got up very early, fed the dogs, ourselves, and then headed off to Masi. Oh how easy that sounds now, but it was a hard day. It started with a road crossing from the camp site and which resulted in the first of several ‘offs’ for certain team members and a runaway team. This is a dangerous situation as they become an unguided missile just waiting to collect another team or musher as they come past. The best idea was simply to let them through and leave Per Thore to stop them when they reached him at the front. We went up a steep slope with a foot of new soft snow just off the main track on either side. Needless to say several mushers took an unscheduled snow bath! We stopped for lunch (sandwiches made after breakfast) at the top of the hill for us all to get our breaths back, but the dogs barked constantly wanting to be on the move again. When Per Thore started putting his jacket on it signalled the end of lunch and the dogs picked up on his actions immediately with chaos as snow anchors were pulled out and sandwiches and flasks were hastily stashed to be ready for the inevitable fast getaway that a stop always meant as 72 eager dogs were let loose to do what they do best – run.
They don’t have lunch and always seemed put out that we did.

We arrived at our camp outside Masi with what can only be described as the most harrowing decent we encountered. We were on a public road (iced over) going into the village standing hard on the snow brake but with no effect as there was no snow for it to bite into. How everyone got to the bottom without major crashes I still don’t know. We then went out the otherside of the village and over a small lake before reaching the huts where we would spend the night. Chores completed, mushers fed, and dogs settled down we were all asleep very early, but already aware that the next day was to be the big challenge (and so it proved).

Click here for the rest of the trip……

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The Huskies http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-huskies/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/the-huskies/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:20:54 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=26 What came as quite a surprise during the trip was just how many different looking huskies Per Thore Hansen had in his 72 dogs we used. Take my two lead dogs here, Costella (white) and Clara (black) looked anything but true huskies as I would have known them, but what a team!

The traditional view we arrived with was as that of a huge Siberian husky but they are apparently no good at running or for endurance. As a result we had a real heinz mixture of crossbreeds but they all had a few traits in common:

1. They are quite happy to fight each other!
2. They will run forever
3. They are very hardy animals
4. They will do whatever you tell them unless Per Thore tells them otherwise
5. Oh yes, they can howl for Norway!!

But just like a box of broken biscuits, although they may be less than perfect in some regards, the outside packaging belies what truly lies beneath, and you often find the nicest contents. That was truly the case on this trip.

These are not the fireside loving pets you have at home though. They are bred for a purpose – to work – and that is where they are in their true element. The two lead dogs set the pace of the team, and the two dogs at the rear (in a four dog setup) are known as the ‘wheel dogs’ and they are the main pulling power.

Here’s Toq and Nanuk who were the engine room of my team.

Here’s a few facts we learned on the trip:.

  • The dog’s capillaries (I think that’s blood vessels to you and me) stop about half an inch from the skin, so they don’t lose heat.
  • The dogs don’t drink water. They put their face down in the snow when running for a refreshing mouth wash. We have to prepare a ‘soup’ of reindeer meat, biscuit, and melted water for the dogs to get fluid inside them at the end of a run.
  • Each dog has its own harness and its own position in the team. The lead dog always has to be harnessed and placed on the main sled gangline first, otherwise apparently the other dogs will fret as they have no leader.

When we stop for the day a chain is slung on the ground and tethered down. The dogs are secured by shorter chains to it for the night. The instructions are that the team come off the main harness in reverse order, which means the lead dog comes off last.

The chains are just short enough to stop them fighting with each other during the night, although as the bitches on heat found it wasn’t so short to stop the advances of an amorous male!


The needs of the dogs always come first. They are fed before the mushers eat, and they are bedded down before we got to collapse at the end of a hard day. They are always fed first in the morning to be able to digest their food before a run (while our breakfast digests on the trail). This soon became accepted as without them we were going nowhere.

The huskies we had all became friends and fellow team members very quickly, and competition was fierce over who had the better dog team. Over dinner each person on our trek would continually rave about how well (or otherwise) their dogs had done that day, and we spent many hours extolling the virtues, or in some cases the flaws, of our own team.

Oh yes, they can read as well…! See the gallery page for some other photo’s of the dogs.

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Why not sponsor the 2007 team this Wednesday night. http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/17/ http://crazymusher.com/2017/05/31/17/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 16:00:24 +0000 http://crazymusher.com/?p=17 Here’s one of my 2006 article’s ….

By now you must have read a number of pages of the site and have decided that, as you are awash with spare cash, you want to throw some in the direction of the SPRI charity? OK, enough of the begging, how about just a few bob then? Want a broken leg cNo, I promised the charity I wouldn’t do that – how else can I persuade you?

Think of this – do you smoke? Would just a couple less cigarettes a day or week really hurt that much? (If yes, seek medical help!). Why not give the money to a much better cause than dying early?

Do you drink? Would just one less drink on a Friday night be so much of a hardship? How much does that come to in a month, or a year? Just think how good you would feel about yourself if you gave that? Your liver would thank you as much as we would.

What else do you do with your money? Could you syphon off a few pounds to help an organisation that is carrying out research to help the future of the planet? Oh hell, just think of those huskies – pledge some money and we’ll share some great photo’s with you when the 2007 team returns.


On the left hand side of every page I have set up an online SPRI dog sled charity donation page on PayPal where you can make a donation using your own PayPal account, or where you can make a donation with a credit/debit card.


If you prefer you can send a cheque (made out to ‘Crazy Musher’). Please post to:

Philip Jeffs
Oswald House
284 Southtown Road
Great Yarmouth
Norfolk NR31 0JB

If you want to send your cheque to the SPRI directly, please print out this sheet, and send with your cheque to the address recorded on the bottom of it.

So many ways to help the cause…..

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