Pair to Ski 400Km From Cambridge Bay to Gjoa Haven

In an otherwise quiet year in the Arctic, where the cancellation of Barneo aborted one full-length North Pole expedition and numerous last-degree guided trips, one couple is about to ski 400km between the northern Canadian villages of Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven.

Matthieu Tordeur of France and Anja Blacha of Germany leave Cambridge Bay in the central Arctic this week. Tordeur skied to the South Pole in 2019, while Blacha, a mountaineer, summited K2 without supplemental oxygen in 2019.

The route covers a small but storied section of the Northwest Passage. Gjoa Haven, named after Roald Amundsen’s ship, the Gjoa, lies on King William Island. Sir John Franklin’s two ships came to grief on the northwest corner of the island in 1846.

Four hundred kilometers is a straightforward distance for hauling relatively light sleds over windblown sea ice. Borge Ousland’s tour company, Ousland Explorers, led a group of clients between those two villages last year and are about to begin the same route this weekend, just a couple of days after Tordeur and Blacha’s departure.

The route has the advantage of being economical for an arctic destination since no charter flights are necessary. Small aircraft service both communities every week.

map of route

Jerry Kobalenko

Jerry Kobalenko is the editor of ExplorersWeb. One of Canada’s premier arctic travelers, he is the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden, and has just finished a book about adventures in Labrador. In 2018, he was awarded the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada and in 2022, he received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for services to exploration.