WINDSLED FINALIZES SUMMIT EXPEDITION SUCCESSFULLY!
-Ramón Larramendi’s team has covered a route of 2000 km (1242 mi) in five weeks
-The crew has witnessed the accelerated melting of the Arctic while collecting data on climate change
JUNE 27, 2016. The WindSled, led by explorer Ramón Larramendi, has successfully completed its journey of almost 2000 kilometers (1243 mi). The route has led the sled to ascend 2000 meters (6562 ft) in altitude and has lasted six weeks. The team of five expeditionary who have completed the 2016 Ice Summit Expedition Greenland this weekend, have arrived last Saturday afternoon at Kangerlussuaq, on the southwest coast of Greenland, after the last hours in which they encountered crevasses that complicated the arrival. However, this did not affect the achievement of the planned goal.
During the expedition, which had scientific and exploration objectives, it has been proven that the wind vehicle, one of a kind, and designed by Larramendi, is able to navigate Arctic territories carrying two tons (4409 lbs) and a crew of six.
For the first time, the WindSled, with dimensions of 12 meters (39 ft) long by 3 and a 1/2 (11.5 ft) wide, has been able to ascend with headwind, reaching 3240 meters (10663 ft), the ‘summit’. From there on, the team descended on the other side of the iced ‘dome’ close to the east coast, where a helicopter closed in on the vehicle to exchange part of the crew, and from where they commenced the last phase of the journey which ended this weekend. “We are very satisfied. It has been very hard, because of the weather conditions, but we have achieved the objectives. We hope this expedition and the WindSled will be used as a tool for national and international polar exploration”, Ramón Larramendi stated upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq. The 2016 Ice Summit Greenland Expedition, sponsored by Tasermiut S.G.E. started navigation after being assembled on the ice, near Kangerlussuaq town, on the 21st May. During the first part of the adventure, Hilo Moreno, Ignacio Oficialdegui, Vicente Leal, the Danish Karin Moe Bojsen, and Nacho García accompanied the explorer. The last four were relieved, as planned, after 1500 kilometers (932 mi) of navigation, by Manuel Olivera, Malik Milfeldt and Miguel Herrero.
Since the beginning of the journey, Larramendi confirmed that the melting of Greenland inland had advanced several weeks this year with respect to what they found two years ago during the 2014 Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition. Not only have the temperatures been higher, but the polar night winds they expected, behaved erratically. Occasionally, they had to divide the four-module convoy in two and split the teams to continue the ascent to the summit.
During the route, members of the expedition have collected data regarding ice and snow conditions and cosmic radiation for CSIC scientists and the University of Alcalá de Henares.
Once on the ice summit, at the American scientific base Summit Camp (or Summit Station), they also collected scientific instrumentation for another research led by the American glaciologist Jason Box, Geological Survey of Denmark. With this equipment, the expeditionary drilled 13.5 meters (44 ft)in depth in different geographic coordinates of the Greenland interior for climate change studies.
After passing the Ice Summit, descending towards the southeast coast was faster, sometimes exceeding 25 km (16 mi) / h with the convoy and without major incidents. They hadn’t problems on the way back to the west either, the last 500 kilometers (311 mi). The most difficult time for the WindSled took place in the last hours, when the sled had to cross an area of large cracks, covered by snow, that made the last kilometers seem a mine land, fortunately without consequences. A journey of 1870 kilometers (1162 mi) in total.
As soon as they landed, Larramendi admitted: “This expedition has not been easy because it has been too hot, several degrees above zero at 2200 meters (7217 ft) in altitude, and because dragging 2,000 kg (4409 lbs) of weight is a challenge that has never been attempted before. In any case, we are really happy and satisfied that we have overcome it. We have been repairing the damage on the way and overcoming the difficulties. Any other vehicle wouldn’t have progressed in the conditions in which we have done the ice interior.”
Once again it has been demonstrated that the simplicity and efficiency of the WindSled is one of a kind and to the advantage of science. “
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