Arctic Interview: Solo Yasu Ogita, in the footsteps of Peary, Sverdrup and Eskimos

Ogita says he is used to polar bears, during his 16 years the Arctic. Sverdrup Pass and the Canada-Greenland sea ice were much more challenging.

(Correne Coetzer) Japanese Arctic explorer, Yasunaga (Yasu) Ogita has been exploring the Arctic for the past 16 years. A few days ago he has arrived back home after a successful solo expedition in the High Canadian Arctic, across the sea ice, onto Greenland.

He pulled his sled where explorers like Peary, Otto Sverdrup and Eskimos also traveled. “I was very excited because they also watched the same scenery,” he told Explorersweb/Pythom.

Yasu started March 30th from Grise Fiord in Canada and ended 48 days later, May 16th, at Siorapaluk in Greenland. He covered a distance of 830km, calculated daily in a straight line between campsites.

We checked in with Yasu to find out about permits and permissions needed for this road less traveled, as well as details about this route, in particular, the sea between Canada and Greenland, which could pose a threat. He explains how he could not cross it the way the local Greenland people do.

Exweb/Pythom: What was your route? How did you plan this route? Was it easy to get information/maps about your route? Were you in contact with local people?

Yasu: Attached picture show the route of my expedition. Grise Fiord – across mountain – Trold Fiord – Irene Bay – Sverdrup Pass – Princess Marie Bay – Canada-Greenland Border – Aunnartoq (Hunters cabin for Siorapaluk local people) – Cross Icecap – Siorapaluk.

I asked local people in Grise Fiord and Siorapaluk for information, and furthermore got information from some Japanese explorers who know this area. Matty McNair also gave me some info from when she traversed Ellesmere Island before.

But I didn’t have info about some places, for example, the crossing route where I traversed from Sverdrup Pass to the northern bay (Princess Marie Bay).

Exweb/Pythom: You crossed the sea ice between Canada and Greenland. How was the condition of the sea ice? Any danger there?

Yasu: That Sound is very risky and difficult to cross. A lot of ice floes are drifting from the Arctic Ocean with a strong current and those ice floes are piled up like a wall, just like the Canadian Arctic Ocean 83-84 degrees North.

Usually, when Greenland local people cross this strait, they use a new ice way on the ice floe edge. But that technique needs enough speed like dog sledding, because a new ice way is very unstable and we can’t camp there. I chose a crossing route further north, 20 km from floe edge. That was safer and more stable.

Exweb/Pythom: How was the terrain the rest of the route?

Yasu: Sverdrup Pass specifically is very hard to cross. Many places have no snow as the result of strong winds, and exposed rocks cause damage to a pulk. A very narrow valley has 3-4 m height ice fall in some places, and very deep snow also makes it difficult to travel.

Exweb/Pythom: How was your weather?

Yasu: I didn’t have a blizzard in this expedition.

Exweb/Pythom: You have beautiful wildlife photos, but encountering a polar bear is not fun when you are on your own. Tell us about the wildlife on your route, please.

Yasu: That amazing, beautiful wildlife there. I had a chance of encounter a Polar Bear, wolves, MuskOx, Caribou, Seal, lots of Arctic hares. One wolf came close to me and played with my pulk. I am used to meet with Polar Bears, they don’t care about human basically because they are busy looking for seal pups in this season. Wildlife animals do not like unnecessary fighting. Only human likes it.

Exweb/Pythom: Were there times that you felt unsafe on this route?

Yasu: Risk was anywhere anytime beside with me. Especially, the sea ice between Canada and Greenland was a very risky place. There was no landing place for an airplane, in case it was needed. At least you should not hope for rescue when you cross there.

Exweb/Pythom: What permits and permissions did you need for this expedition?

Yasu: We don’t need any permit for this expedition. I reported to the police, RCMP Canada and Greenland police, before the expedition.

I crossed the Greenland Ice Cap from Aunnartoq to Siorapaluk. That place needs permission when you cross before April. I crossed in May.

Exweb/Pythom: You have done many expeditions in the Arctic, but what did you learn from this expedition? Do you think you could have done something differently?

Yasu: This area is the special place for Arctic history. Ancient Eskimos crossed to Greenland here, and Peary, Sverdrup, and many explorers were active here. I was very excited because they also watched the same scenery. That was really a happy time for me.

Previous/Related on Pythom and Explorersweb

Yasu Ogita completed High Canadian to Greenland solo (2016)

Heads up: Yasu Ogita’s 2016 Arctic expedition

Yasunaga Ogita talking to ExWeb from the high Canadian Arctic (February 2014)

The Hunger Game: Yasu Ogita recaps his North Pole expedition (May 2014)

Japanese expedition retraced doomed Northwest Passage Franklin expedition (May 2011)

ExWeb interview with Yasunaga Ogita: From the Arctic ice to the tundra (May 2011)

Ogita and Kakuhata finished Canadian tundra expedition (August 2011)

Yasunaga Ogita’s pages

Facebook (personal)

Facebook (Yasu North Pole Adventure page)




#Polar #Ogita #Arctic2016