Arctic Roundup: An Island Too Far?

In our latest arctic roundup, Baffin Island looks to have been an island too far for the Expedition Five duo. Also, Charlie Walker finally checks in from the Russian wilderness.

Charlie Walker

Charlie Walker inauspiciously began his trek on February 24, the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. Photo: Charlie Walker

 

After a long radio silence, we have news from Charlie Walker. Walker’s 1,600km ski expedition along the Lena River began on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine and it had been unclear if he had been able to continue. Walker has progressed quicker than expected and is in the village of Khayyr, approximately 350km from his endpoint at Tiksi. He anticipates the final stage will be a little slower because of headwinds off the Laptev Sea.

Greenland to Ellesmere Island?

As reported earlier, the ice bridge between Greenland and Ellesmere Island hasn’t looked firm enough for Pascale Marceau, Scott Cocks, and Jayme Dittmar to ski across.

“Although we still believe the Smith Sound crossing could be possible by ski…there are too many unknowns for our team to safely attempt the crossing this year,” Marceau wrote recently. Instead, they plan to wait for the sea ice to break up enough to take a boat across. This, too, may or may not be possible: a lot of pack ice from the north flushes continuously through that area.

The team will putter around in Greenland until conditions are right for a boat crossing. Photo: Pascale Marceau

Cycling the Arctic

Italian cyclist Omar Di Felice has completed his 4,000km Arctic Circle cycle ride. Di Felice set out from Russia and has finished in Alaska, flying between each Arctic segment.

On March 30, he began his final stage, from Whitehorse in the Canadian Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska. Di Felice had made short work of previous stages. True to form, he ripped through the final 1,600km in 12 days.

Baffin Island

Louis Nethercott and Anthony Lambert are attempting to cross Baffin Island for the final leg of their “Expedition 5” project. The two former Royal Marine Commandos are “crossing the planet’s five largest islands unsupported, using only human power.” The pair have already crossed Borneo, Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, and Greenland.

Baffin Island is already proving the hardest of the bunch. Heading inland toward the Isurtuq River, Nethercott and Lambert found deep, soft snow and immediately fell behind on their daily 20km targets.

The original route. Photo: Expedition Five

 

Unusually warm weather has made skiing up a frozen river valley to the Isurtuq a nightmare. The river is thawing, and they have found themselves, wet, cold, and way behind schedule.

Their latest update suggests that they’ll soon abort their crossing: “Our hopes to reach the Penny Ice Cap have all but been dashed…and what has started as an expedition is slowly beginning to turn into a survival situation. We still have a good deal of supplies and options open to us but trying to navigate further up an unexplored river on hope alone seems at best a fool’s errand.”

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.


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