Arctic Roundup: Suffering Through Baffin Island

In our latest arctic roundup, the Baffin Island pair have changed routes but are sticking it out. Elsewhere, arctic veteran Will Steger is ready to set off on another Barren Lands epic.

Greenland to Ellesmere?

Pascale Marceau, Scott Cocks, and Jayme Dittmar’s original plan to ski across the ice bridge between Greenland and Ellesmere was quickly scrapped. Last week, we reported that they might instead take a boat across Smith Sound crossing. Their latest update suggests this backup plan might also prove too risky.

The team has arrived back at Qaannaaq to “regroup, resupply, and plan their next expedition in Greenland.”

Pascale Marceau in Greenland. Photo: Pascale Marceau

Baffin Island

Louis Nethercott and Anthony Lambert are attempting to cross Baffin Island for the final leg of their “Expedition 5” project — unsupported crossings of the world’s five largest islands. But Baffin has thrown a spanner in the works: “Distances here our much harder won. The inclines we battle and the ground we cover is far, far more technical than anything we ever anticipated.”

Temperatures have been colder than they planned for, and both men report degrees of frostbite in their fingers and toes. Already well-behind schedule, they have given up on their original route (not quite a full crossing but an ambitious slog through the centre of the island and over the Penny Ice Cap) and are on to a Plan B.

This involves making use of an Inuit snowmobile trail to the east coast, via Nettling Lake.

The Barren Lands

Veteran explorer Will Steger is heading into Canada’s Barren Lands on a 1,600km solo expedition. Steger will haul his canoe and 230 pounds of gear, at age 77. He anticipates that the journey will take 70 days.

Will Steger in a recent photograph. Photo: Will Steger

 

This is a tough journey for someone in their prime, let alone nearing 80. Of course, Steger has arctic chops: most notably, his 1986 dogsled journey to the North Pole and his 1989-1990 dogsled traverse of Antarctica. However, he has not fared well on his more recent ambitious solos. In 2018, he took on a very similar route through the Barren Lands, though that effort apparently fizzled out. Another expedition some years earlier to haul a canoe from the North Pole back to land in summer also did not get far.

Axel Heiberg Island

John Dunn and Graeme Magor’s two-month, spring-summer ski traverse of Axel Heiberg Island is about to begin. Dunn and Magor fly to Resolute today and will charter a Twin Otter aircraft to their starting point at the southern tip of Axel Heiberg on April 29. We covered their expedition in detail last week.

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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