In fact, someone had turned up the heat! Usually the North West Passages are full of first year ice (ice that has been there for one winter), which in the past six years, melts readily in the summer. However this year, instead the passages were blocked with old multi-year ice that had melted, carved away, moved down from the Arctic ocean ice sheet, and then got stuck. So instead of waiting for first year ice to melt, we were waiting for ice blocks the size of mountains to melt. Oh the joys of the Arctic - guess we won’t be home for Christmas then!
The scientists' analysis was that a big storm would be the only thing to shift this big ice. But with such different weather this year there were no storms predicted (of course!), so there was lots of debate as to whether the passage would even open for us.