Rowing Team Joins the Action in the Northwest Passage

Traversing the Northwest Passage is proving itself an increasingly popular pastime for the world’s adventurers.

This month, a small team will attempt the crossing by rowboat, becoming at least the fourth expedition to try and tackle the difficult journey by human power alone this summer.

“You really do need the gods to be on your side,” expedition leader Leven Brown said in a promo video.

Brown is no stranger to dangerous rowing expeditions. He’s one of the world’s best maritime adventurers, with multiple crossings of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. But the Northwest Passage still poses his biggest challenge yet.

The NWP Expedition will follow a 3,700km arctic route from Baffin Island, Canada, to Point Barrow, Alaska.

A popular passage


But Brown and his cohort aren’t the only adventurers attempting to make their way through the Northwest Passage by human power alone.

In fact, at least three other expeditions are currently in motion.

A group of four kayakers known as the Arctic Cowboys are paddling the route and making good time so far, though they still had 2,300km to go as of Monday.

Extreme stand-up paddle boarder Karl Kruger has returned to his multi-year standup paddle board expedition through the Northwest Passage. After traversing 675km last year, he picked up where he left off and is now continuing his journey through Canada’s Nunavut territory.

And finally, the rowing duo of Matty Clarke and Adam Riley has turned into a solo endeavor for Clarke after Riley suffered an injury.

In that context, Leven Brown’s rowing team is the figurative caboose in a train of adventurers hoping to find a bit of glory through the Northwest Passage.

nw passage route

A map of the rowing team’s planned route through the Northwest Passage. Image: NW Passage Expedition


The rowers will face what Valles refers to as an “unethical psychology experiment.” Rowing in two-hour shifts, the biggest battle will likely be sleep deprivation.

The key to success in the Northwest Passage is being totally flexible about the route that they take, Brown said.

You can follow the expedition’s progress via their online tracker.

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.