(Correne Coetzer / Paco Acedo) From Spain, extreme diver Paco Acedo sent over news to ExplorersWeb about his and team mate and disabled athlete, Jesus Noriega's crossing of the Baltic Sea. They had completed the expedition on March 3, 2014. The two men covered more than 200 km in 10 days by skiing across broken ice and diving under the ice; according to them, the first to do so.
Here go their report to ExWeb:
For Paco and Jesus, the expedition was a success because "we have not only achieved the goal of crossing the Baltic from Finland to Sweden, we have achieved total autonomy transporting all necessary food and gear ourselves, including diving equipment. Adverse weather conditions repeatedly made us doubt about the possibility of reaching our goal". The disabled athlete, Jesus Noriega, who skied the two last degrees (220 km) to the South Pole in 2009, states that due to the poor condition of the ice, "this has been by far one of the toughest expeditions and more risk I have taken part in so far."
Paco explains that the conditions they faced in the Baltic Sea were very hard from the start because of the ice conditions. The athlete from Córdoba recalls that "the second day and 60 km from land, the Baltic showed us the worst of its faces, thawing of the ice we expected to find open water in our path and falling into the open sea without notice; an extremely dangerous situation, which forced us to literally flee northward during the night. Since that moment the Baltic daily tested our determination, forcing us to change our route four times to avoid ending up submerged in its waters."
All these difficulties forced Paco and Jesus to walk long hours, sometimes for 15 hours, and covered more than 200 km instead of the 140 km initially planned. They pulled four pulkas, two each, weighting 65 kg per person.
Jesús Noriega says that "despite enduring wind gusts of up to 70 km per hour, creating a wind chill of about -24ºC, our biggest problem was the high temperatures around -1°C or -2°C. These temperatures had never previously been recorded at this time of year. It made the surface of the Baltic a very dangerous place, forcing us to move forward on many occasions over puddles of water up to 20 cm or large areas of fractured ice, assuming a risk which we had not counted for and preventing us from crossing open water channels by icebreakers in our way. These channels did not freeze over at any time.“
Paco adds that "one of the most tense moments was at dawn when we checked the ice on which we camped near one of the leads opened by icebreakers. Overnight channels had formed and we were on a floe floating surrounded by huge cracks. Even in parts of our journey, we were surprised by the great icebreaker traffic and huge freighters that usually operate in the area at this time of the year, which gradually enlarge the channels to even 200 meters wide. Because the channel never froze we had to cross them by taking risks and jump over the ice blocks to eventually reach the other shore. On one occasion, a helicopter of the Finnish Guard was sent to us telling us that we were in a very dangerous area. They finally allowed us to continue on our path assuming we know the risk involved.”
Paco Acedo conducted the first ever diving under the ice in the center of the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. He explains, "the conditions were terrible to carry out diving; windy, equipment froze, sunless days with very poor visibility under the ice. The ice moved a lot and did not create any confidence, but did not stop the challenge; assuming the higher the risk, the higher the reward."
This "Crossing the Ice" expedition had an important scientific section which helped a team of marine biologists, metsähallitus, an organization belonging to the government of Finland, investigating and safeguarding all natural environments of the country.
Both explorers comment that "the final stage of the journey was definitely the hardest. We find miles of chaotic ice and physically pushed our limits. We were moving an average of 6 km in 7 hours which forced us to proceed overnight to reach the coast of Sweden in the time provided."
With this new expedition, Paco Acedo adds a new chapter to his resume as extreme diver in Arctic and Antarctic regions. This continues his training for the Subpolar 90º expedition (www.subpolar90.es), a diving project that aims to reach the Geographic North Pole. In 2010 alone he held the first "Round the World Underwater" challenge, traveling 90,000 km and went into the most remote and unexplored corners of the planet. In 2011- 2012 he conducted the expedition "Witness Meltdown", which led him to go snorkelling in Siberia, Greenland and Svalbard, conducting an environmental study endorsed by the University of Córdoba on global warming and its impact on people of the Arctic. In addition to his sports background he is also listed as the first expedition that has managed to dive under the ice of the northernmost permanent population of the planet, Siorapaluk, in the region of Thule (Greenland). With this "Dive to World” expedition he lived with the last Inuit hunters in northern Greenland learning ancient techniques to coexist with ice and extreme cold. Other expeditions include the crossing of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and a journey through Indonesia and the Pacific Islands.
For his part, Jesus Noriega complete a new sport and social challenge, once again demonstrating the ability of people regardless of their limitations, demonstrating that with struggle, effort and perseverance anything can be achieved. It also builds a new experience in extreme expeditions and adds the previously done, "South Pole Unlimited 2009", winter voyages in Greenlandic and Nordic lands, and various mountaineering expeditions that took him to the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. A climber, advanced diver, underwater photographer and specialist in technology and communications, currently competes in Paralympic triathlon in order to participate in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
"Crossing the Ice" completed this adventure on the Baltic Sea with the sponsorship of the IMD Córdoba, European City of Sport 2014, Spanish Geographical Society, metsähallitus, Subpolar 90° North Mountain Triathlon and Hon. City of Córdoba.
#polar #balticsea #PacoAcedo #JesusNoriega
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