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Northwest Passage kite ski update: critical final route decisions

Posted: Jun 01, 2011 09:15 pm EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) After 2,800 km it was time to make critical decisions about their route again, reported Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry; would there be enough snow on the 400 km trail to make it to Pond Inlet and furthermore what would be the best trail? They studied maps and talked to the locals at their present location, Igloolik.

Good snow but melting rivers

After talking with the locals it appears that this year has had a late spring and exceptionally good snow, however the rivers will soon open and because Pond Inlet has been getting more sunlight the snow has likely melted more further north, said Eric. The route that they have been recommended is one of the traditional dog sledding routes.

Eric stated that they have already traveled over 2,800 km and only 400 km remain to attain their goal of Pond Inlet. Our detour south around the Boothia strait has delayed us by about two weeks, however we made the call to continue to Pond Inlet with the best of hopes that the snow will last just a bit longer. With a slight but steady south west wind blowing we are heading back out for our final leg.

The route that they have been recommended is one of the traditional dog sledding routes.

24 hour push

When nearing the town of Igloolik, Sarah and Eric were desperate for winds after seven days of sledge-hauling. Their weather forecast predicted a period of 24 hour winds and they decided to make use of it.

Sarah described their kite day, With our kites in the air, we started our descent off the plateau, fenced in a narrow valley following a river. The rocky hills which rose up to 800 feet on either side confined us to the valley floor. For the first section of the night, we weren't able to kite more than 30 minutes at a time.

The hills made the winds turbulent, at times blocking them completely, and the river often turned upwind. So we kited when possible, and walked or skied when the winds or terrain would not permit.

As the morning sun rose, we descended off the river onto flat terrain. However the winds were not favorable, gusting up and down forcing us to change our kite size frequently. Exhausted, we kept trying to make as many miles as possible.

The town of Igloolik was still far, and we knew these west winds would only last till this evening. We had only 24 hours of wind, none could be wasted.

They covered 400 km and reached their destination, exhausted, said Sarah. It was not the first time she and Eric kite skied 24 hours; they did it on Greenland for fun. And in 2010 Eric and Sebastian Copeland set the distance world record by kite skiing 595 km in 24 hours, also on Greenland.

This time, Sarah said, the only record to be made was the number of times they un-rolled and re-rolled their kites.

Latest position: May 28 -31, Days 74
69.3666N, 081.7833W
Temperatures around -5°C to -15°C.

10. Our contact with the outside world from Pittarak Expeditions on Vimeo.

Brother and sister adventurers, Eric (26) and Sarah (24) McNair-Landry, are kite-skiing and sledge-hauling the Northwest Passage. This 3000 km long expedition will retrace a historical route first sailed in 1906 by Roald Amundsen.

Sarah and Eric left home (Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada) March 17 on route to their start point in the far north of Canadas Northwest Territories, Tuktoyaktuk.

From there they will be heading east to the communities of Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak, and Arctic Bay until they reach their destination at Pond Inlet on Baffin Island.

At ages 18 and 20 respectively, Sarah and Eric became the youngest to ski to from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole (with their mother and 2 friends, unassisted, unsupported, and they kited back). Apart from doing Greenland kite-skiing, Gobi Desert buggy-kiting and Mongolia-Russia kayaking together, last year Sarah has guided a ski expedition from Canada to the Geographic North Pole and Eric has set a 24-hour kite-ski distance world record (see links below the images). See more expeditions of the siblings with their parents and friends here.

The team uses Human Edge Tech hardware, as well as CONTACT 5 expedition software and a CONTACT Augmented route map

#Polar #topstory

Eric McNair-Landry: Thanks to the two solar panels and the HET battery pack that we have brought along with us. This in turn keeps our electronics, satellite phone and, most importantly, our iPods charged.
courtesy Pittarak Northwest Passage Expedition (live over Contact 5), SOURCE
Sarah looking over maps
Image by Eric McNair-Landry courtesy Pittarak Northwest Passage Expedition (live over Contact 5), SOURCE
Screenshot of their ContactA route map (click to enlarge).
courtesy Pittarak Northwest Passage Expedition (live over ContactA), SOURCE