Annie

Annie

Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00

It's a wrap!

Your well wishes and crossed fingers worked! The weather cleared and our team departed from Kulusuk this afternoon, saying their final farewell's to Greenland. It was a fitting end to a trip filled with weather delays, storms, & holding patterns, but also plenty of good times and rewarding days and above all a brilliant team. 

Thanks to everyone who followed this blog, and thanks to our amazing Greenland team. Heather, Dale, Ian, John, Eric, Taylor, Salo and Julius, you had us wondering how it would all end and we are delighted to have been a part of your adventure. 

Don't miss out on Ian's last audio dispatch from the bar at the Kulusuk Hotel!

Until next time!

Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00

It's a wrap!

Your well wishes and crossed fingers worked! The weather cleared and our team departed from Kulusuk this afternoon, saying their final farewell's to Greenland. It was a fitting end to a trip filled with weather delays, storms, & holding patterns, but also plenty of good times and rewarding days and above all a brilliant team. 

Thanks to everyone who followed this blog, and thanks to our amazing Greenland team. Heather, Dale, Ian, John, Eric, Taylor, Salo and Julius, you had us wondering how it would all end and we are delighted to have been a part of your adventure. 

Don't miss out on Ian's last audio dispatch from the bar at the Kulusuk Hotel!

Until next time!

Friday, 01 June 2018 17:00

Greenland Weather Strikes Again!

The team left Tasiilaq this morning on a short helicopter flight to the airport at Kulusuk. They were scheduled to fly to Reykjavik, Iceland a couple hours later. Once they arrived at the airport they learned that plane they were scheduled to fly on to Reykjavik had to be turned back to Reykjavik due to fog in Kulusuk. Rats! Just when you think your are all done with Greenland's fickle weather it sneaks up and bites you one last time. The good news is that the team is now in clean clothes, which they picked up at the airport today. They had them shipped from Kangerlussuaq just prior to the start of the expedition. It is a GREAT feeling to have on fresh clothes after wearing the same thing for over 20 days!

They are staying at a hotel near the Kulusuk Airport. The actual town of Kulusuk is a short distance away. It's not as big as Tasiilaq with just under 300 people calling it home. 

The plan is to depart on tomorrow's flight to Reykjavik. The weather looks better and our finger's are crossed! We will post more as it is received, so check back again!

Below: That's Kulusuk!

Thursday, 31 May 2018 17:06

Photos From Yesterday

We received these photos late last night. Looks like a GREAT end to the expedition! Check back again today for more...

Below: The final pushes to get to the last waypoint

Below: Heather, Dale and John on the chopper

Below: Awesome views are everywhere

Below: "What? No Mountain House on the menu?"

Below: And the celebrations continued...

 

Thursday, 31 May 2018 00:07

Success!!!

A huge CONGRATULATIONS is in order for our team who reached their final waypoint at approximately 11:30 AM Greenland time and successfully finished their crossing of the Greenland icecap, woohoo!!!! They overcame many, many challenges - some of them physical, like the long hours of skiing in whiteouts, pushing onwards into strong headwinds, and building walls to sustain massive winds. Other challenges were less physical, like enduring the many days of waiting for Salo and Julius. One thing we can say about this team with absolute certainty is that they were one of the most upbeat, positive and adaptable teams we have ever had. They faced each challenge with the right combination of grit, humor, endurance and humility. They had a tremendous amount of expedition experience and it showed every day. 

After a stunning helicopter flight (at least we hope it was stunning - the scenery is out of this world if there is good visibility) the team touched down in Tasiilaq, Greenland. Tasiilaq is east Greenland's largest community with a population of around 2,000. It is one of the most picturesque towns in the Arctic. They are spending tonight and tomorrow night in a hotel (ahhh!) with showers (ahhhh x 2!!) and a restaurant that serves non dehydrated food (ahhhh x 3!!!) and a full bar!!!!

We anticipate receiving some photos from the day and also an audio dispatch so check back again soon. In the meantime here are some images of Tasiilaq from Wiki Commons (thanks Chrissy from Chicago!)

Below: Helicopter and boat are the only way in and out of Tasiilaq (but no boats yet... too much sea ice!)

Below: That's King Oscar's Harbor filled with "growlers" (that's sea ice that's roughly the size of a truck or piano)

 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018 02:49

The Day Described With Four W's

The team could describe today using four words that start with W: wind, whiteout, warm and wet. They have had many days of whiteout and wind, but as they drop in elevation and reach the east coast they are also getting warmer temperatures, which leads to wetter snow. Today they had wet, clumpy snow that stuck to their skis during one push, and freezing rain during another push. Of course the wind and the whiteout were omnipresent. Eric says that he never even bothered looking up from his compass, so easy was it to drift off course. But tomorrow promises to bring better weather - maybe even full sun for a while - and if all goes according to plan, the last day on the icecap! A very exciting prospect indeed!

When you have a whiteout like today your eyes will sometimes play tricks on you. Your mind tells your eyes that there is some sort of object in the distance. It might move, or be still. It might be large, or small, it might be basic or detailed. You shake your head and blink, and it's gone, only to be replaced by something else a little later. It's odd, but strangely interesting. Much more frustrating is skiing in sticky snow. Skiing in sticky snow is one of the all time most frustrating ways to move - EVER! Your skis become heavier and heavier as more and more snow sticks to your skis with each step. Soon you are lugging 2, then 4, then 6 kg of snow under each foot. You can feel the mass of snow accumulating on the bottom of each ski. If it gets particularly large it can even throw off your balance! Every few steps you hit the skis with your poles to try and knock some of the snow loose, but rarely is it entirely effective. Instead you grunt, or curse, or if you are desperate you may ask a team mate to scrape your skis clean with his or her poles. But the freedom does not last for long. After only a handful of steps you may be back in the same situation! The cure is the right kind of ski wax, which if it works, is worth more than its weight in gold!

Heather touches on this in her blog:

It was a long day in a snowstorm with zero contrast so we went a little mental...
May 29th - T-1, A tale from Land of the Green
In a place far far away, King Eric, Knight Taylor, the Merrimen (Dale, Ian, John) and the Fair Maiden (I know I should be the bard, but I’ve always wanted to be a fair maiden, and I drew the line at buxom) were trying to join an exclusive club of Greenland crossers. Coldsnowwind, the God of Land of the Green (BTW Eric the Red, Viking, called it Greenland to make it sound attractive (truth) - though the only green thing I’ve seen to date is Dale’s pack) was uncertain as to the company’s worthiness and decided to create some final challenges. The first was a blizzard at break of camp, with zero visibility and heavy snow. The troupe kept the dogs and handlers close in case they needed sustenance and armaments. The first push saw success. 
The god then put an uphill in the descent with deep deep powder, and again the company proved worthy. At the third push the God turned the snow into taffy - wet, sticking, grabbing and clawing at the skis. There was much stomping and swearing but the third push was achieved. At the break Knight Taylor found magic wax allowing a return to the slide and glide elegance that the troupe’s ski style was known for. The God got angry and sent freezing rain during the 4th push but the team prevailed. Verily the God tired of the challenge and thought perhaps this team may be worthy. Eric then led the team successfully over the required distance to camp! Thus ends the legend of T-1, Land of the Green.

Listen to today's audio dispatch from Ian

Below: Into the White. What do you look at when there is nothing to look at?

 

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 01:50

Chicken Strips and French Fries!

What does it say when the blog title is about food? Well, for starters food is in the top three things people think about while skiing all day every day... What's in my pocket for our next snack break? What de-hy food will I have for dinner? What will be the first meal I have when I get home? What about the second meal? What snacks will they be serving on the airplane? But more importantly tonight was a very special meal, REAL (not dehydrated!) chicken strips and french fries made by Chef Taylor and delivered to each tent. Delicious!

Now, back to the day... It was a beautiful day. Sunny and windy at first, with the wind out of the north, then shifting to the east. There was one mid day push when it got uncomfortable hot for the first time on the expedition! Then back to the wind and cold. Heather and John took turns out front breaking trail and navigating by chest-mounted compass. 

They are now 43 kilometers from their final waypoint. There was a stretch today where they could tell they were going downhill, but otherwise the descent thus far has been fairly not noticeable. The fresh snow has something to do with that. Hopefully tomorrow they will have some visibility because they should start to see features of the east coast - mostly mountain tops!

Heather writes:

May 28th - as Aretha said R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 
Today brought the sunrise in around 430 am. Helped dry us out, magical as there was so much dampness, our sleeping bags end up like popsicles after sitting on the sled in freezing temps for the whole day. Usual brekkkie and out we went. 6 pushes (each push typically 1.5 hr long ski with 10 min break to eat and drink). Overall 35 k skied, now 21 days on the ice..... but most importantly we can now move to the countdown - we are 42 km to target!!!!
Altitude 5150 feet. I had a chance to lead today (bloody awesome) wearing the chest harness and compass. All I had to do was keep the needle ‘in the house’ so we could move directly east, in a straight line. There was some visibility so Tay said look into the distance and find a mark and move to it, making minor adjustments as needed to keep the needle on target. Well, I never, (as granny would say), so piece of cake right? Except....the land is covered with sastrugi (snow formations created by the wind), there’s deep powder, apparently I have a tendency to go left (likely because of my political views), all in all there’s no doubt I added an extra km to the day. Holy moly RESPECT for these guides who make it look so easy! And to top it all off Taylor made chicken nuggets and fries! First non-freeze dried food in 21 days!! Nirvana.

Listen to today's audio dispatch from John.

Below: Our wonderful team includes 8 people and 31 amazing dogs. 

Below: Is that BLUE SKY?? They had almost forgotten what it looked like!

Monday, 28 May 2018 02:21

Better Than Yesterday, But Still Hard

It was another tough day on the Greenland icecap. It was made that way mostly by the fresh, deep snow. The visibility was terrible again but towards the afternoon they got some breaks with a little sunshine. Oh what a sight!

Everyone is skiing. It’s a massive struggle for the dogs to pull the sleds in this snow, even with six skiers ahead breaking trail. Everyone is relishing the R&R time in their tents. On the menu tonight, at least for Heather and Eric is spicy Thai chicken noodles. They are prepping for a long day tomorrow but the weather should be better, and that goes a long way towards making things easier (or at least more enjoyable!)

Heather writes: May 27th. Snow cubed redux
Skied 33k for a net of 31.5. Altitude 6050 ft. 12 inches of snow overnight. Thigh deep when not on skis, 6-12 inches deep on skis. Tough lead work breaking trail (Eric and Tay). Thanks for that!!
Weather was the same to start, like skiing through a giant marshmallow miasma (yes I wrote that). In fact only Benjamin Moore has more shades of white than Greenland. We saw them all today. The irony was not lost on me when the Beach Boys came up on my iPod random shuffle. Little deuce coupe, really??
In any case the weather cleared around noon and we had a few hours of sun. Then it closed off again as we finished our 6th push of skiing. Camp is set. Everyone pretty shattered. Same again tomorrow...

Group shot from today- notice the completely white background

 Listen to today's audio dispatch from Heather

Sunday, 27 May 2018 01:33

Skiing in a Whiteout

Tough day today. The visibility was nil, there was absolutely no contrast, there was wind in the face, and snow. A whole lot of nothing to look at but the backs of team mates and the butts of dogs. To ponder what this is like imagine that you somehow ended up in a jug of milk. It's white everywhere. To the right, to the left, above you, below you, there is nothing but white. It can be hard to tell which way is up and down! When you encounter a drift in the snow you have no idea if it will be a tiny bump or a big hill. You just keep putting one foot in front of the next, trusting that it will all be good - a little like being led while you are blindfolded.

Like a GPS scanning the sky for a signal your eyes scan the horizon (which you can's see) for anything other than white. Your eyes scan back and forth, back and forth, looking for anything that will act as any sort of reference. And there is nothing. It's exhausting, and some what mind numbing work. But it's also pretty cool. At least for a while. After a day of it you are ready to hit the sac and dream about sunshine. As hard as a day like this is, it's good to have one or two of them behind you. Days like these make you appreciate all the other days where you can actually SEE! And when the sun finally comes back you feel like you've won the lottery!

The weather for tomorrow looks to be similar, but maybe a little less windy. As they approach the east coast they have a goal and a timeframe and they are working hard to get these two to match. They are all ready, willing and even excited to put in some hard days but a little cooperation from the weather would help!

Heather writes:

May 26th Snow cubed!!!
27.5 km skied, 26 km closer to destination (see below), 6664 ft elevation. -10 and windchill. We had huge snow drifts, big headwind blowing snow, and snow fall = snow cubed. The only tether to planet earth, allowing us to separate up from down, was gravity (thanks Sir Isaac). A complete whitewashed pallet with our jackets providing the only slashes of color. If I had been leading we would have wandered around in circles (always hard for me to relinquish control...). The guides used a chest mount compass to try to keep direction on target, hence the 1.5 km difference between total skied and our goal. Remarkable really as I had no idea where we were going the entire day. Unfortunately same weather expected tomorrow.

********

We have a photo to post but I'm having some technical difficulties with it. The photo is of Eric, wearing his goggles, a big grin on his face and nothing but white behind him. 

If we receive an audio dispatch we will post it. In the meantime everyone is doing well, and probably sleeping VERY well too!

Check back again tomorrow for another update from the icecap!

 

Friday, 25 May 2018 23:39

Getting It Done

This team is getting it done, one day at a time. Today another 37 km are behind them. They are tired but satisfied and the end of the expedition is not too far beyond the horizon. Today started with beautiful but cold conditions. A great day to be on the icecap! But by the end of the day the weather had deteriorated and it will be windy tonight. Not “storm” windy, but windy enough to make for a loud tent. They traveled in the same style today, taking turns skiing, skijouring and riding the sleds. 

All is good. Their current coordinates are N 66.197648, W -41.877978. 

Heather writes:

May 25th Go team!!!
We did 37 km today. Glorious start to the day and a miserable finish weather wise. Altitude 7054. Everyone’s working hard to make up our mileage, given our early delays. Tough strong work.
Taylor, guide, 23, incredibly accomplished, comes from a formidable pedigree, his dad Rick founded Polar Explorers. He’s a machine on skis and also plays a mean game of hearts. He plans to do an 80d canoe trip in the NWT!! Eric, lead guide and my tentmate, 30, comes from Illinois, and rose through the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America. He’s 6’8” which means I have to ski twice as much to keep up, bugger. He has been remarkably innovative and agile on this trip, calculating food and fuel, distance, and plans b, c, d when plan a hasn’t worked. They are a dynamic duo to be sure.
John, our Kiwi, is a retired ranch owner, 67. He has accomplished an amazing amount, including 7 summits, with Everest in ‘93. He’s a numbers man, a walking calculator. Ian, 54, is a consultant from UK, whisky connoisseur, also a seven summit, North and South Pole kinda guy. The crazy bit is he’s already done Greenland and came back to do it a second time?!? Incredible dry wit. He was with us at the South Pole and has TYL status!
Dale is doing what he does best. Getting the job done. 19 years post heart transplant and my testyourlimits partner in crime!

Listen to today's audio dispatch from Eric

 

Who can guess who these people are?

Dogs taking a break

 

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