Arctic Roundup: Expeditions Set Off

While the Barneo ice station is cancelled again this year because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several arctic expeditions have just begun. Here, the latest news from the far north.

Ellesmere Island

This morning, Canadian adventure athletes Ray Zahab and Kevin Vallely left Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island’s south coast to begin a 1,100km unsupported crossing. Pulling 100kg sleds, they will finish at the Alert military base on the north coast. The crossing should take between 40 and 50 days.

Zahab and Vallely set off early this morning. Photo: Ray Zahab

Greenland to Baffin Island

Pascale Marceau, Scott Cocks, and Jayme Dittmar’s expedition looks increasingly likely to go ahead. The trio depends on the ice bridge forming between Greenland and Canada. If it does, they can cross over to Ellesmere Island’s east coast.

Here is today’s satellite:

The red line roughly indicates the traditional crossing area, although it can also happen about 30km further north, depending on the year. The ice on the Greenland side still looks questionable but better than last week.

Like Marceau, Cocks, and Dittmar, we’ll keep a close eye on the satellite images as they prepare to set off.

Lake Baikal

Lukasz Rybicki’s second attempt at a speed crossing of Lake Baikal did not go any better than his first. Rybicki pulled out at Olkhon Island, around halfway through the 650km journey.

He managed to get from Lake Baikal to Poland, despite the ban on Russian aircraft from most European airspace. The Polish bus driver, who works in London, is currently bringing care packages to Ukrainian refugees at the border.

Charlie Walker on the Lena River.

Lena River

No word since last week from Charlie Walker, also deep in Siberia. He has just begun his 1,600km northward trek along the frozen Lena River from Yakutsk.

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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