THE EXPEDITIONARY HAVE ARRIVED TO GREENLANDThree of the five expedition members to Greenland began on May 1st in Madrid an adventure that has i... Read more
THE WINDSLED EXPEDITIONARY ARE NAVIGATING THE ICY INTERIOR OF GREENLAND5TH MAY 2014 The WindSled team, led by explorer Ramón Larramendi, has had to anticipate the star... Read more
THE WINDSLED ALREADY ON GREENLAND ICERead more
NAVIGATING WITH FAVORABLE WINDS ON THE DESERT OF ICE!The five WindSled explorers began on Tuesday, May 6th, at around six pm (GMT), navigating the ice wi... Read more
310 MILES TRAVELED WITH SOME CREVASSESThe WindSled Expedition, which began on Monday the first Greenland circumnavigation, are already in ... Read more
GREENLAND AT THE CROSSROADSMore investigation. This is what scientists from several countries have claimed gathered by the BBVA... Read more
DATA COLLECTED BY THE WINDSLED PROVES ORGANIC CONTAMINATION IN THE INTERIOR OF ANTARCTICA.May 14, 2014. Scientific data collecte... Read more
The WindSled is revolutionaryMr. JUAN IGNACIO LOPEZ MORENO* The polar regions are among the most remote places on the planet. ... Read more
HEADING SOUTH, FOLLOWING THE COLD WAR TRACKSThe 1st Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition on the WindSled sails southwards. After a few days of ... Read more
EXPEDITION SUCCESSFULLY TRAVELS HALF THE DISTANCE TO BE COVEREDThe WindSled Expedition, driven by aeolian energy, is now a month old on the ice in the interior of ... Read more
LARRAMENDI" After thirty days of hard work, and after the approach to 80° north, it's a good time to make an ... Read more
A letter from an amateur researcher...Manuel Olivera (expedition member): "A month ago I embarked on a strange journey in which I hooke... Read more
TRACK THEIR POSITION ON THE MAP IN REAL TIME
June 23: 265 mi (427 km), a total of 2,672 mi (4,300 km)
Latitude: 67 ° 55′ N, Longitude: 48 ° 10′ W, Elevation: 4,974 ft (1,516 m)
” WE MADE IT! We have attained our goal, and we surpassed a distance record the WindSled had never accomplished before. But yes, destiny saved us: 265 mi in a 21 hour non-stop session! It was really incredible. After three days being taskless, tired of not moving, Juan Manuel Viu predicted we were going to have good wind on Sunday afternoon and so it has been. Furthermore, in a spectacular icy surface, flat as a plate.
At 13 hours, the sled began to move and two hours later, the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite began to pick up speed, reaching 19 mi (30 km) / h. Fearing being too accelerated, we changed to the 646 sq ft (60 sq m) one, but the wind in Hugo and Karin’s shift kept up its intensity. Our speed increased up to 28 mi (45 km) / h. With Hugo leading, it went as high as 34 mi (54 km) / h, marked by our GPS. This crazy Greenlander Hugo !
However, the sled bumped less than in other parts of our journey, like when we were going at 7 mi (12 km) / h. The truth is that we expected to have more days like this: good wind and good terrain, but until the last day both had not yet coincided. Unbelievable!
In the last session, with Eusebio and Manuel riding, we continued our pace nonstop for 21 hours, with a route that has first been to the west, then north, and then west again. We’ve eaten on the go, thinking of ending the expedition in one last stage. The conditions were so good we could have continued another 435 mi (700 km). In fact, we have passed the point where the plane left us on May 3, by 4 mi (7 km).
But the heat made the snow very heavy in the area, with water underneath, so that the resistance has broken a cord on the sled. It was not worth going further any more, remarked Manuel at the helm. Thus, we stopped and finalized the expedition right there. Now, we are celebrating the achievement as we deserve… With hugs, jumps of joy and of course with a few shots of rum.
The previous WindSled distance record was in Greenland 2001 of 262 mi (421 km). On this occasion we have covered a few more, sufficient to illustrate that this vehicle works.
After the ‘party’, Manuel dug the last 3.3 ft (1 m) hole deep in the snow. Therefore sealing the scientific commitment that this expedition has maintained with research in the Poles “.
June 22 : 0 mi, a total of 2,170 mi (3,493 km)
” For three days we’re standing here, waiting to turn west to later continue our route north. The surface is flat like a plate. A luxury, but without fuel doesn’t serve much. Waiting is more tiresome than the days we navigate non-stop, than repairing the vehicle and redoing knots and sewing kites…
Luckily it seems that weather forecasts are good. For a while there even a small breeze commenced. We are prepared for the moment when Hugo and Karin notify a change and the kite begins to push us forward.”
June 21 : 0 mi advanced, a total of 2,170 mi (3,493 km)
” The second day the wind blows against us and we are completely stuck. It’s a certain feeling of impotence, because we can almost see, smell the end of the trip, but we are playing along the last stage of this Greenland circumnavigation. We have repaired all we had to repair and got everything in place, tried everything we could, but the wind that leads us west to close the circle is still not blowing. As much as we take turns, not even a light breeze, nothing goes…
It will be 50 days now that we are in Greenland and the wind has been generally favorable. But not now, and nothing can be done. Why deny the frustration that produces being so close to the final and not advancing one meter. Standing here in the snow while snowing, and at 12 ° C below zero, has us baffled. We are eager to move to reach the shower.
But hey, we are listening to music and reading. Some with an ebook and others with paper. Since today is the National Day of Greenland, we have brought along a specially prepared meal: octopus and squid in its ink. Accompanied all with a few Coca-Cola cans found in the ruins of the Dye-3 radar base. We were doubting trying cans frozen for 25 years in case they were bad. And finally, they were ok, but neither had a bubble.
We’re far enough south to have nights here. Evenings only last three hours and a quarter, but it is impressive to see sunset on the frozen horizon and after a while see sunrise again. A real show. We have enough photos. It is one of those things you think you’ll never get to see in life and we’ve seen it. Even without the wind that we need.”
June 20: o mi advanced, a total of 2,170 mi (3,493 km)
Latitude: 63º 55′ N, Longitude: 43º 25′ W, Altitude: 8,504 ft (2.592 m)
” We were confident that today the wind would allow us to make important progress towards the final stages of the expedition, but no luck. We have reached the southernmost point in South Greenland we had anticipated and if it hadn’t been for the strong blowing west wind right against our route, no doubt we would have gone further south, towards the sea. So we stopped, and nothing. No wind from the South nor the East…so we could not move a thing.
Positive news? Yes, the antibiotics seem to be doing Manuel well and the toothache has remitted somewhat. The temperature is much cooler than yesterday, but not excessive, 13 º C below zero. And if we’re lucky and the wind blows, we will have completed a full circumnavigation of Greenland within 4 to 7 days. But of course, it depends on the wind, as we desire it more each day. Exhaustion is taking its toll after almost two months and the food is just barely making it.
What is certain is that being taskless all day in the middle of nowhere knowing we are so close to the checkered flag, produces a very strange sensation. It’s like being surrounded by an unfathomable and capricious horizon.”
June 19: 89 mi (143 km), a total of 2,170 mi (3,493 km)
“Good time to leave Dye-3. It’s what we wanted and what we had. After waiting a few hours, at four in the morning, we had the perfect wind and we moved away from the dome that was almost buried in the snow. In the end, 89 mi (143 km) that could have gone on for longer, but the direction shifted and might push us too close to the coast. It was dangerous.”
“As the terrain was good, we went at speeds of up to 19 mi (30 km) / h. during seven and a half hours. Now the intention is to continue another 62 mi (100 km) to the south to reach 63 º 20′ N and turn westward to try to reach Kangerlussuaq. Weather forecasts say we’ll have good wind for that operation, so hopefully tomorrow we will change direction after reaching the southernmost point of the expedition.”
“Otherwise, the cold is back, Not too much, 7 º C below zero, but the change is noticeable.”
“The first medical problem of the expedition has emerged after fifty days. The strong toothache Manuel suffers is the kind that leaves one K.O. He has started taking antibiotics to control the infection. One of the worst maladies on a trip…”
June 18 : o mi advanced, a total of 2,082 mi (3,350 km)
‘ The Day After Tomorrow’, the film by Roland Emmerich. “ So we felt today when we entered the radar based Dye-3, a facility built for a military program during the Cold War, when the United States set up a line of radars crossing west to east from south Greenland. It was later used as a scientific base, until it was abandoned in year 1989.”
” It’s spooky, awesome in its icy solitude…”
” But first things first. We began to sail yesterday afternoon, taking advantage of northwest wind after a day of calm. The Sun hid for two hours, but the light did not disappear. With nearly a full moon, it was a beautiful sky. Shortly after the temperature dropped it started snowing. We were about 13 mi (21 km) away when, in the distance, we saw a dome. The terrain was filled with gullies and it vanished. Then came the fog, thick, and frozen moisture in the air. Then came the cold. In fact, we are at 11 ° C below zero. But we knew the Dye-3 was there and with the help of a GPS we headed towards the base.”
” We did not see it until 2,623 ft (800 m) away. Near the base was a ‘mountain’ of snow, a giant snowdrift, so we stopped at about 328 ft (100 m). Around the geodesic dome radar was a big hole, 26 ft (8 m) deep, we had to descend. Then we climbed up to a door that was open. We crashed in with our lanterns…
Inside, everything was quite creepy here, buried under 66 ft (20 m) of snow, in absolute darkness. The rooms are a horror movie: abandoned pictures on the walls, rumpled sheets, books … And the dining room with dishes on the table, the fruit bowl with rotten apples, bread for the day. All as if inhabitants had left yesterday. But it’s been 25 years…
The walls were frozen with icicles. In the end, we spent almost two hours scouring every corner. We even found a brush and a wrench that could do good. Manuel also returned to take another look around.”
“At the exit, we find that the wind has changed and we can not move, but it was really worth it to live this unique experience in a ‘Martian’ type atmosphere. Few people have been here during all this time elapsed, because it is out of the routes, almost buried; in 20 years it will be covered covered completely and disappear from view.”
June 17 : 0 miles, a total of 2,032 mi (3,270 km)
” We haven’t moved all day. Just now we are while we write and bounce up and down in the tent. The wind has risen, not in the right direction, but at least it allows us to move forward. It’s amazing how these local katabatic winds change.
But the day was tense and calm. Calm because the wind wasn’t moving an inch. Tense because we are looking forward to reaching parallel 63 º North to initiate the return to our expedition starting point.”
” As we were still, Karin went skiing for a long time in the wilderness of ice and Manuel decided to take a three-hour long walk, in which he lost sight of the vehicle; he did not have GPS or walkie, the weather was so good that his own intact tracks, served him to return. The others spent the day resting in the sun. In fact, we now have 30 º C more than when we were in northern Greenland, just 15 days ago. That’s incredible.
We have already begun to count the remaining miles, which are not many. Some 497 mi (800 km) to finish, of which 186 mi (300 km) are to the south. In addition, although food is becoming scarce, we now eat less since we need fewer calories. Thus, we can extend the journey a few more days.”
” We have no date, but we are still mulling the choices we have to leave the ice when we arrive near Kangerlussuaq. J. M. Viu told us that the skid plane which deposited us there the first day is no longer available. It finished the season and returned to Iceland. We may use a Greenlandic rescue helicopter or a Hercules aircraft from the American base in Kangerlussuaq. We’ll see …”
” But thinking about the end gives us the desire of progressing quickly, though the summer is playing against us and we are almost at the solstice… We are still confident of completing this circumnavigation to the bitter end.”
June 16 : 17 mi (27 km), a total of 2,032 mi (3,270 km)
Ramón doesn’t remember a similar situation. “Today, 3 º C at nearly 7,546 ft (2,300 m) elevation in the interior of Greenland. And it’s snowing. The weather is incredibly stable and calm in this expedition.” Having been here so often, he doesn’t recall such benign conditions… “We have had 45 days of good weather! That’s good for the body, but not to advance the sled because this heat leaves us without fuel.”
” On this day, we have just covered 17 mi (27 km). Little, but the weather was so mild that there was no way to exceed 3 mi (5 km) / h. For a while a thick fog hid the kite. We knew it was there, but couldn’t see it. And below, the falling snow hampered progress. The snow crust is broken by the sled but not good for its structure. In the end, complete calm settled. And with it, we saw what seemed swallows…”
“We still have 218 mi (350 km) to go to the location where we begin our climb to the expedition’s starting point, Kangerlussuaq. We are already counting reserves. We have dinner for 13 nights, which we can stretch out some more days, but we are eager to move forward as yesterday’s pace.
13 years ago, here and at this time it was much colder and windier. We do not know if it is due to climate change or not, but it is a factor to consider.”
June 15: 82 mi (132 km), a total of 2,015 mi (3,243 km)
” The Sun and the Moon, both in the horizon, but opposing. A light to never forget. Last night, finally, the sun hid from our view, but only for a few minutes. Not enough time for the light to disappear and see the stars. The sun had hardly gone when it resurfaced again, shiny and reddish, as the Earth’s Moon, at its best, a huge moon, rose and dwindled into view.”
“It was a great day. Not only because we have made good progress after two days of break, but because, for the first time, we have seen unknown human traces. In addition, and above all, we have crossed the Arctic Circle (Latitude 65 ° 57 ‘ N), one of the milestones to achieve, so we celebrated with a night ‘party’ in our little tent, rum and music…”
“The first time we have observed human traces that are not our own. The first sign in almost a month and a half that we are not alone in this great island… Basically, remains of camps on the route of east-west expeditions. Just a few snow walls which are made to protect the tents, but for us it was a real event! ”
“Navigation started very strongly in Hugo and Karin’s shift. A 492 ft (150 m) high wind that was so strong that we changed the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite for the 323 sq ft (30 m) one to manage steering the sled. That was for hours until the wind changed and its power decreased, in the meantime, above the kite was not able to sustain itself…”
“Today, the snow melts all around us. We are at 1 º C. We could not imagine this heat on the Inlandsis ice cap…”
June 14 : 19 mi (31 km), a total of 1,933 mi (3,111 km)
” Yesterday we did not write in the diary. We advanced
very little and schedule changed a bit. For two days now we were expecting the sun to disappear from view, but it is still with us.
The wind is from the right direction, but so mild that it doesn’t allows us to do many miles. Often it stops completely. Yesterday was a bit disappointing because our expectations were not met. In this part of the world it’s not easy to get it right.”
” So we took time to ‘tune’ the sled. Dismantle the big tent and repair the rungss that were damaged. With the thaw, we were almost sleeping on the floor. It’s good we have such a simple vehicle. Everything can be fixed. All five went to work at once and we have left it as new. Later on we tried listening to the shortwave radio, the soccer match of Spain against The Netherlands in the World Cup which we had been told about. It was impossible. We couldn’t catch a radio wave.
Today we ‘scraped’ another few southbound miles. We look forward to a new day in which we overcome the hundred. It hasn’t snowed and the temperature remains warmish because we are not at great elevation, just over 7,200 ft (2,200 m).
The best surprise was given to us when Hugo took frozen musk ox meat out which, when savored, tasted like glory after so many days of dehydrated food.”
June 12 : 51 mi (82 km), a total of 1,896 mi (3,052 km)
” Here, every day is a surprise. Yesterday we thought the good luck would continue, but today’s weather forecast was bad; we still progressed 51 mi (82 km) in a very different landscape then the one we have had so far. An area of deep valleys that suddenly drop. So much, that at one point the sled was ahead of the kite. It got tangled. At the time Eusebio and Manuel were piloting.”
“As we were on the slope with strong surface wind, they decided to set up the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite with the two in the sled (not risking missing the convoy and being “landed”), and nobody at the place where the kite was widespread. The first time it tangled, the second, it was so strong that Eusebio had to let go …, so they switched to the 646 sq ft (60 sq m) one. Thus, the third time they have succeeded …
After a half an hour of enjoying, although with some tremendous shark type sastrugi, Ramon warned that the tent floor back where he slept, had broken several rungs. Probably already broken but resisting because of the ice… But today it melted due to the heat and the rungs have been released, so we’ve spent good time repairing them.”
” It has been warm like never before on a WindSled expedition, almost zero degrees. With sun. We have even been in short sleeves. Such a high temperature is a problem. During the day the water becomes snow that wets everything and in the evening it chills and freezes. The cords become cutting knives. At least that’s the reason we assume when finding so many shredded knots.
Today, we are near Mount Forel and we see it. If we took a shortcut towards the west, in 217 mi (350 km) we would be in Kangerlussuaq, but we will continue at least another 311 mi (500 km) southwards.
Tomorrow we enter the area which is frequented by many expeditions. Maybe we will meet somebody, or see footprints.”
June 11: 127 mi (205 km), a total of 1,845 mi (2,970 km)
” Like bullets we felt today. Had it not been because the wind has changed in the end, we could have beaten a world distance record. Conditions were perfect, no sastrugi any more, and we have maitained an average speed of 12 mi (20 km) / h. It has been a good map ‘bite’, which places us at latitude 67 degrees north, just where we left from, Kangerlussuaq on May 3.
What a difference from the first day! Then, Ramon was the only one who knew the handling of the sled, but we’re all experienced ice sailors now. We are enjoying the best days of the journey: We are more experienced, and we have good wind and terrain with lighter weight. If nothing changes, we can try a 24 hour non-stop stage, well only for a quick dinner. Our intention is to go down to latitude 62 degrees north before turning westward.”
“We are happy. We now have an integrated group. Everyone knows what to do and fulfills obligations. We continue to learn languages. Hugo, who has brought a book to learn Spanish, speaks ‘broken’ words and Manuel has ‘resurrected’ his Greenlandic. On nightly gatherings this is a mess of languages, although English is mostly used. In the latest, we chatted about the kites. Yesterday we found a hole in another one. We found that the most enduring are the oldest, which are more robust and rough. They are the ones that are saving the expedition.
The weather is also with us. At noon, only -3 degrees Celsius. That’s hot inside the tent, and outside. Today, Manolo has handled without gloves Unheard of on the WindSled! J. M. Viu, who sends us daily forecasts via satellite, announced that there are 0 ° C at 6,562 ft (2,000 m), and we are now at 8,694 ft (2650 m).”
” Today, surely, we will not see the sun for the first time during weeks, at midnight. As we advance southwards it’s lower in the horizon. Yesterday, so low, that it created strange, fascinating long shadows. It’s an amazing show.”
June 10: 103 mi (165 km), a total of 1,718 mi (2,765 km)
Latitude: 69º23′ N, ‘Longitude: 35 º 52’33’ W, Elevation: 9,032 ft (2,753 m)
” The terrain has been like in Antarctica. If until now the WindSled has “sailed” between sardines (small sastrugui, ice waves), today they were real sharks , even like a whale shark. The wind was perfect, though, better impossible. We probably would have surpassed the record of miles traveled / day had it not been for the surface, but still we have come a long way. The second longest stage since we left last May 6.
Actually we were going at high speed, with a wind of 25 mi (40 km) / h. First with a 215 sq ft (20 sq m) kite, and later, in Eusebio and Manuel’s shift, with a 258 sq ft (24 sq m) one. When changed, they almost lost a parka left behind; They had to go look for it because without the cold wind gets to the bones. In all this, they did not lower the kite. It suffices to maneuver at the proper height to place it according to the vertical wind column. Today, for example, at 558 ft (170 m) in height it could be well controlled, but at 492 ft (150 m) it was impossible.”
” But we are very happy. We have finally come down from 70º N and we are approaching one of the milestones that we have set: crossing the Arctic Circle. Just 186 mi (300 km) to go to be able to celebrate.
The trouble is that the bread and cookies are scarce. Now we have rationed to two slices per day the first and three the second. The consequence of eating to many in the early days when we did not think that the journey would be extended longer than expected, as is happening.”
” The good thing is that the temperature in the evenings is great: – 8 ° C, and sun. We continue to open the tent entrance, when we stop for dinner, to refrigerate a bit. Outside we expect more sharks on which to navigate on as we finish dining with little bread, but with ham, like every night.”
June 9: 63 km (101 km), a total of 1,616 mi (2,600 km)
Latitude: 70 ° 26′ N, Longitude: 32 º 49′ W, Elevation: 9,354 ft (2,851 m)
” We have not advanced at all. All day we had the south wind against us. But today we had more luck. The first few hours were not good, only a few miles in several hours… but we decided to keep the kite up and in Manuel and Eusebio’s shift, it slowly rose to become … a blizzard! Actually this duo has more luck…
As we changed the kite line to the front a couple of days ago, we can now go faster without the sled suffering so much. They launched the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite and progressed at good speed, up to 16 mi (25 km) / h. They have covered 56 mi (90 km) in six hours.
The problem has been “braking”. As we have to let the kite drop and with the blizzard it could fly miles away and without seeing much, the risk of losing it is great. Eusebio and Manuel had to run after the kite and in a few meters, they were no longer visible from the sled. The fog. The falling snow erased their footprints… It was a tense moment. Ramón, glued to the radio, to see if they gave signals. In these moments we are aware of the risk in this expedition.”
” In the end, everything went well. It has taken then an hour and a half to pick it up, but they have succeeded and returned smoothly to the sled, because they were marking their position with GPS.
Right now we have great wind: 22 mi (35 km) / h on the surface, so we dined early and will start going soon. The only bad thing is that the snowing of yesterday and today, has impeded the solar panel battery charge of the computer. It doesn’t matter. The wind is encouraging and leading us to our ultimate goal.”
June 7: 72 mi (116 km). a total of 1,553 mi (2,499 km)
” Manuel fell asleep. It did not seem possible, but he broke down and fell into the arms of Morpheus while piloting the sled on this inner sea of ice.
And he did it twice! Luckily, no obstacles to bump into for miles around, no police to impose fines and that Eusebio was beside him, It was he who noticed he was handling with his eyes closed and made him return to consciousness before the comet fell. To top it off, he slept but his fellow travelers trying to rest in the tent, failed to catch a wink due to the sled’s stumbling along at a good speed.
It is the story of a day that started badly in the first round, and ended up as we like, navigating with a 646 sq ft (60 sq m) kite, downwind, stable and with not very high sastruguis. Luck was provided by Manuel and Eusebio. Theirs are the majority of those 72 mi (116 km) in nine hours of piloting. Before Ramon had reached a speed of 23 mi (37 km) / h, but not maintained.
Today we also had our bird time. We did not know what species it was, but it seemed lost and landed at the feet of the only woman in the expedition, Karin. It looked puzzled for a while, as if wondering where they had come from? Then hovered and left. Possibly without a response.
It was a day that went like a balm. We advanced as we liked. And we saw clouds on the horizon indicating that the east coast is there, although it is not possible to distinguish anything. They are different from ice clouds anyway.
Only Manuel is a little concerned. They are running out of cookies and bread! He does not know eating without this accompaniment. And so far, there are no supermarkets in sight!”
June 6: 48 mi (77 km), a total of 1,481 mi (2,383 km)
Latitude: 72 ° 21′ N, Longitude: 32 º 11′ W, Elevation: 9,249 ft (2,819 m)
” Heat has arrived to Greenland. Our tent ‘residence’ is a furnace. We sleep in T shirts and out of the bags because the greenhouse effect is tremendous and outside we enjoy a comfortable – 5 ° C. We even have to open the door to cool the atmosphere inside. Suddenly, from one day to the next, it’s summer. And the heat ‘kills’ the wind, which is not good news. So on the one hand we have stopped fighting the cold; now we have to fight the sun while we navigate during the alleged “night”. As we explained before, it’s never night now in this area of the planet.
Although the forecast was bad, with a disheartening east / southeast wind, when we need north, we have advanced with kites NTW5 and NTW9 until it stopped at 11 Greenlandic time. Sometimes we have even surpassed mi (30 km) / h. The consequence: as the kite lines come to the sled’s side, the storage module is quite damaged. Tomorrow we will change the frontal gear, allowing us to go faster and suffer less.
Today, another problem: when we lowered the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite we saw a tremendous hole. Luckily we did not forget to put needle and thread in the luggage and by sewing it was fixed. Meanwhile Manuel and Eusebio have been dedicated to science. Daily tasks with the probe last at least an hour, but when we have to dig deep holes in the snow, it takes at least three hours.
In three days we hope to see the stars. As we move towards the south, the sun is lower in the horizon. We hope to soon recover the night.”
June 5 : 53 mi (86 km), a total of 1,433 mi (2,306 km)
” Fog weighs in Greenland. It adheres to the lines that link the sled’s kites, increasing the width of the kite line over its total extension. That weight we noticed in our arms . That’s what happened to us today. We had a fair wind , but soft , which has allowed us to move , but no sun and until the ice dislodged, the physical effort has been notable…
But we are elated. We have achieved two important milestones in this journey. On one hand, we have overcome the expedition’s equator, half of the distance to be eventually covered. And on the other we have reached the 9,843 ft (3,000 m) elevation, which we had already discarded. The north wind pushed us inwards separating us from a coastline that we have not seen, and, so, achieving this milestone.
You can count with fingers the expeditions that have been around. It is quite a remote area. Approaching by plane are those from the Summit Research Station, which is not far, to collect samples , and also from the coast, scientists arrive. In any case practically nobody has been here before, not with a WindSled anyway. It is a great pleasure being here.
In this high area, Manuel has again drilled a hole in the snow 10 ft deep to gather data. He found that it’s at – 30º C, six degrees higher than in the north.
Now the next waypoint is to surpass the Arctic Circle, which is approximately mi 180 km) further, at the height of Kangerlusuaq, where we started out from. As we said live tonight on the National Radio, we still have 25 days ahead of us…”
June 4 : 76 mi (122 km), a total of 1,379 mi (2,220 km)
Latitude : 73 ° 81′ N, Longitude : 32 ° 46′ W Altitude: 9,610 ft (2,929 m)
” At Last! After several days of dead calm , we are now on the go! These 76 mi (122 km) of navigation, fifteen hours without a pause, we have managed gloriously well. To find the desired wind we have had to abandon our first plan which was to reach 9,843 ft (3,000 m) altitude on the Arctic plateau . We have chosen to approach the east coast and now we are at no more than 31 mi (50 km) from land but we can’t see it. Everything is still pure white.
The wind was low all day. Since it has returned today, without rolling, this deserves a shot of rum. We abandoned the bottle since we reached the northernmost point of the journey.
At one point, we even attained 11 mi (17 km) / h , but slowered the pace because we did not want to end up damaging the sled. With so many days at a low rate, and dedicated to maintenance , the WindSled is almost as new. For several days we will navigate close to the coast to pick up as much wind as possible. This increases the probability of finding cracks and poor terrain, but at least we will move.
It also increases the possibility of sighting polar bears, because there are many on the coast. Well, many is quite relative. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 in the Arctic, from Canada to Siberia and it is known to be a declining population due to the accumulation of contaminants in the Arctic ice and atmosphere and changes in their ecosystem that is caused by global warming. At present, only the Inuit have the right to hunt a certain number of bears per year or shoot to defend themselves in case of an attack .
We hope not to meet any. Or at least far enough away to not be a danger. By the way, in the locomotive module of the sled, we carry a rifle, always at hand, as stipulated in regulations. ”
June 3 : 8.7 mi (14 km), a total of 1,304 mi (2,098 km)
Latitude : 74 ° 84′ N, Longitude : 33 ° 89′ W, Altitude: 9,085 ft (2,769 m)
” If anyone knows a shaman who can cast a spell to wake the wind up, please put him to work! We are trapped in this area. It’s a strange feeling , with 14º C below zero, but with sun. A peculiar sensation and with no wind! Today we have only progressed 8.7 mi (14 km). At night the wind power increases slightly and we take advantage. Yesterday, at 21:30, we set up the big kite, the 861 sq ft (80 sq m) one, and we left it up there waiting for Aeolus. After two hours it began to move … but soon fell. Dead calm.
We still keep our shifts and watchkeeping duties as in the barracks, because if the wind changes when we’re all inside the tent, we risk losing it, and they are quite subtle changes.
We do not even have to repair the sled so we spend hours almost on holidays: reading , experimenting with snow, sleeping, writing, listening to MP3 music or trying to tune the shortwave radio. The truth is that they are obsolete. We hardly tune on anything. Sometimes to radio stations in the interior of Africa or Muslim countries. It’s funny to be in Greenland hearing what is happening in Ghana and not knowing what ‘s happening in your country.
Today, Eusebio and Manuel went for a walk. They walked for two hours in the vast white plain to work out their legs. Three miles away, they could still see a spot in the distance: it was the sled. It is a completely flat surface on which there is nothing. Although it feels that the horizon is close, when walking, one realizes that there is no end. Or so it seems. To be expeditionary in this inhospitable place requires great patience.”
June 2: 26 mi (42 km), a total of 1,295 mi (2,084 km)
Latitude: 75 ° 32′ N, Longitude: 34 ° 49′ W, Altitude: 9,065 ft (2,763 m)
” Calm coast…So we have baptized this area where days are repeated incessantly, while advancing slowly. And so it will be the following days because the wind is low but at least it’s something. We still have 93 mi (150 km) at this rate; We are looking forward to picking up speed again.
Today was a quiet day. No major complications, except for the efforts of ‘scratching’ a few miles, and changing kites when conditions change. We haven’t even seen birds for days. The weather is still good. Eusebio was sweating today while picking up one of the kites, even being at – 18 º C. Inside the tent, the stove heats it up so we almost have 20 º C. At home, we are in T shirts.”
June 1 : 26 mi (42 km), a total of 1,269 mi (2,042 km)
” We still have about 124 mi (200 km) to go until the relief changes around us, and fortunately, much less to get out of this black hole of rare winds. We are in the heart of Greenland for days now and the results in distance covered begins to be frustrating.
Starting today, we’ll change the schedule and try to navigate a little earlier each evening to go for more hours, ie when the sun is low, because at that time the wind is stronger.
To begin advancing and the kite lines tangle up so that we move little, becomes eventually exhausting. How wishful we are of getting over this pothole and reaching 9,843 ft (3,000 m) ! We have already decided to have a party that day, including rum. For days we have had nothing to celebrate.
As fatigue takes its toll, from today onwards we will take hold of the freeze-dried food, which we have brought a variety along. Cooking takes time and we need to save energy. This type of food is the base food for astronauts when in the International Space Station. Like us, they do not have access to supermarkets and they spend many months with a limited menu. Tonight, we have opened some envelopes and after hydrating the contents with hot water, we have eaten cod with potatoes, which was not bad but could have been better. Of course, garnished with traditional entrees, such as serrano ham and manchego cheese, also liked by Karin and Hugo. For dessert, a vitamin pill because we haven’t seen fruit or vegetables for a month.
Sometimes while we have dinner preparations, we turn on Eusebio’s MP4, the music of The Killers, the North American rock band that is becoming the soundtrack of this circumnavigation expedition. We already know the songs! ”
May 31 : 24 mi (38 km), a total of 1,243 mi (2,000 km)
” Nothing. Exiting this area is going to be costly. We knew it, but doesn’t make it less disappointing. The weak and shifting wind complicates our progress even with the surface being very flat, excellent for navigating. We have ‘scratched’ a few miles today. At one of the stops, Manuel had to dive on the sled to not be stranded there on the ground, I mean on the ice… It is something that we must always be vigilant of. Those who are in the cockpit tent, do not see if the others are in the back one. It would be very dangerous for someone to be left behind scantily clad at -20 ° C for hours. The noise the sled makes when moving makes it impossible to hear any yelling. So, control is important.
When we stop, we always take advantage to read for a while. The classical readers who prefer paper, are Ramón, Hugo and Manuel, and the more modern, with the E-book, are Karin and Eusebio, charging it with the solar panels. The trouble with the latter is that when the book is finished, you can not pass it on to a colleague. The advantage, it weighs less.”
Ramon has just finished ‘ El Capitán Olano ‘ by Eduardo Rosset, concerning a Spanish sailor and adventurer (like himself) who traveled with Christopher Columbus to America. Manuel is being entertained with ‘ Short Stories ‘ by Stephen King ; Karin combats low speed with the biography ‘ Running and Stuff ‘ by the marathoner James Adams; Eusebio who reads the most, is immersed in mathematics with ‘ Five Equations That Changed the World ‘ by a scientific writer Michael Guillen… and Hugo, during breaks and to everyone’s surprise, takes out a thick handbook about diesel engines. As can be observed, a diverse group, but well integrated.
May 30 : 42 mi (67 km), a total of 1,219 mi (1,962 km)
” A quiet day , moving at a slow pace with a changing wind that will surely accompany us until we get to 72 degrees north , roughly, about 174 mi (280 km) farther southward . We are set in the routine , it seems strange. The only highlight of the day was that we had a big tangle in the strings of the kite which has taken us almost an hour to undo, but it wasn’t serious. In return , we are more comfortable with the pulley problems: we have greased it with seal blubber , which Hugo brought, and it operates much better. It stinks, but it works! That reassures us .
During the stop, we will manage a food count . So far we have just been pulling the pantry boxes out without checking reserves. It’s time to start controlling because a lot of travel is still left. Fuel for the stove, which is fundamental, we have 65 days left. It’s the only polluting s energy we use which helps us obtain water by melting snow, and thus, be able to cook hot food. We also brought along plenty of food, but we must see how fast we use it. Nearly 1,864 mi (3,000 km) ahead are still many.”
May 29: 87 mi (140 km), a total of 1,129 mi (1,817 km)
” The routine is permanently installed in the WindSled . Especially on days like today , with a fair wind , which allows us to navigate as we like , without major upheavals. We advanced 87 mi (140 km) in 18 hours, two shifts of nine hours. From 2.30 am to 20.30 pm without a break . Only the usual stops to replace a knot or to change the kite at the mercy of the wind. It’s not an operation that we like , because between removing and placing the new one, a half an hour to an hour can go by, but each day it becomes more commonplace.
On the first shift, there was a strong wind we navigated over 9.32 mi (15 km) / h , so we substituted the 646 sq ft (60 sq m) kite for another of 323 sq ft (30 sq m). There was so much wind power that Karin and Hugo distributed the controls between themselves to have enough strength. Then the wind powered down and the day was uneventful . Moreover, while it is cold (below 19 º C ) the sun is good. We would have liked to have gone further, but it’s better to take it easy.
From here, thanks to all journalists in radios, newspapers, agencies, television or blogs attentive to our journey. That gives us energy to keep on going. It makes us feel less alone in this vast white plain.”
May 28: 19.26 mi (31 km), a total of 1,129 mi (1,817 km)
” After yesterday, today was a day of light wind and crawling … During the first shift, Karin and Hugo’s, it was so disappointing that we dedicated ourselves to sort the ‘pantry’ boxes, where we keep the food. Then the wind changed course and we took out the 861 sq ft (80 sq m), but have been going very slowly, only 2 mi (3 km) / h. In the end, 19.26 mi (31 km) in nine hours.
The problem has been that with such little speed one of the strings that go directly from the sled to the kite has broken, 0.4 in (10 mm) thick climbing ropes. Luckily the kite was already down sensing that it was not right, and it didn’t go far. More serious is another issue: our best kite handling pulley is beginning to lose performance, and if it fails, it is beyond repair, or replacement. It is our weakest point and what worries us most, because with light wind, there is no inertia and it stresses more . The only solution would be to use the other three kites we brought that do not require a pulley, but they are new and have not been tested. If necessary, we will have to learn how to manage them undisputedly.
To compensate for such a poor navigating day, the temperature has risen to – 8 ° C. With the stove inside the tent, we are making dinner now in T-shirts. Manolo piloted a while without gloves. The tent – cabin generates a greenhouse effect with the sun so it seems like summer temperature although in the Arctic. We add a double layer of sunscreen so as not to burn.
Today, when doing the snow probe testing , Manolo discovered something new. The probe is 16.4 ft (5 m) long because IPE thought it was more than enough to get to the ice. Well today it has not been sufficient. We have 16.4 ft (5 m) of snow in Central Greenland. A fact for science.
We were also visited by two birds. Karin has seen two Arctic terns, belonging to the ‘ sterna ‘ family, which migrates every year from this area to the Antarctic. What are they doing hundreds of miles away from the fish they eat? It’s a question to which no answer has been found yet.”
May 27: 106 mi (170 km), a total of 1,110 mi (1,786 km)
” Exhausted . Today we have completed nearly thirty hours of navigating without a long stop, with a strong wind that would roll or change direction , making things difficult . If to this we add that we have entered a zone with sastrugis 15,7 in (40 cm) high, elevations of ice like frozen waves , we see it has caused suffering on the sled and we have generated damage. Especially in the loading module .
It was so windy that when we advanced we caused the snow to rise which obliterated our view, not even the kite, so we had to change the line of 984 ft (300 m) to 492 ft (150 m). Moreover , we had to arrange every now and then, broken knots especially, with the tensions generated by so wind much power . And each knot is a suffering issue because our fingers freeze.
At times we have reached 11 mi (18 km) / h , and that’s with sastrugis and crosswinds. In the first round , five hours straight without respite, Eusebio and Manuel had it difficult, quite frankly .
There are always two areas to direct the kite, in the case of a 646 sq ft (60 sq m) one, to slow down the sled speed: top right . Well here, the wind was so strong that the sled came up off the ground , as if flying away. So, leading from the right side would further accelerate the progress . Neither could we release it , which means losing the kite or having it flown away several kilometers. So, for a while there, we were out of control. After five hours piloting , we managed to make it dive to the ground finally detached. Luckily it was not beyond a mile.
Both handlers have ended up with sore arms and hands, and very tired due to the level of alertness attained. The kite rises, falls, goes to one side or another, and all due to the erratic wind. At times coming from the northwest, then the west then back to northwest again.
But it was worth the effort 106 mi (170 km) on record. Today we have a hot dinner: rice with sausage and prosciutto appetizer. Also a lot of water because we don’t drink while we handle thus being somewhat dehydrated. Afterwards, it’s time for our nap, although Manuel wants to take advantage of the stop to pick up new samples in this area so empty of everything. The good thing about always being accompanied by the sun is that there is no problem to start digging at any time.
At 11 pm we start a new phase. The wind speed has dropped but still persists, the south awaits us ahead!
Curiosity of the day: today we saw a fluttering black bird. Not ominous but a sign of life in this desolation.”
May 26: 57 mi (91 km), a total of 1,004 mi (1,616 km)
” Finally we started up again. After several days on stand by in Northern Greenland, the winds seem to favor us again and we start heading south. We are exultant. In today’s session we have covered more than 56 mi (90 km). It was a great day, in which we have made no stops. Shifts working perfectly. A blast of navigation. The good wind continues, so we do not have much time to write. When one is immersed in an adventure like this one, one can not miss out on any opportunity. Especially having still thousands of miles ahead. The technical challenge we are already accomplishing: the WindSled works. And the scientific one also: the ability to collect data without polluting. Now we have to meet the geographical challenge we set ourselves : the ice circumnavigation of this island of the Arctic.”
May 25: 18 mi (29 km), a total of 948 mi (1,525 km)
Latitude: 79º 41′ N, Longitude: 40º 41‘ W, Altitude: 7,346 ft (2,239 m)
” For three days we have moved very little, or nothing at all. The headwind hasn’t facilited things. It seems that the wind is changing now , so we’ll try to go ahead in the coming hours .
We continue with the wind monitoring shifts , but there has been time for parallel activities as well. For starters, Saturday night we heard the Champions League Final, thanks to Hugo’s shortwave radio, and although the voice was coming and going , we followed the exciting match between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid in Lisbon. Greenlandic Hugo, was with Atlético, the others (except Karin) with Real Madrid. It made us feel closer to home, despite being more than 3,728 mi (6,000 km) away in the middle of the ice, at 20 ° C below zero.
Today, Karin and Manuel took the skis and went for a “walk” around the vicinity of the camp. A long training they enjoyed while following the sun because they needed to move their legs. Eusebio remains hooked on to literature in his spare time; Ramon, always attentive to the pursuit of those little arrangements on the WindSled that always keep him busy.
Before these diverse activities, we had advanced a little, just 18 mi (29 km) south and with such a good temperature that we were even hot. The first time this has happened in these twenty two days.”
May 23: 5 mi (8 km) a total 0f 930 mi (1,496 km)
Latitude: 79 ° 64′ N Longitude: 41 º 12′ W Elevation: 7,247 (2,209 m)
” Nothing. A difficult day for navigating . We have only advanced 5 mi (8 km) because the wind was not appropriate for the direction we want to take . For four hours we were trying to move forward with the kite on the lateral, changing the comet of 861 sq ft (80 sq m), but neither would go… We knew that this northeastern area of Greenland, the unexplored , was complicated and required patience. At least until the weather changes .”
” So the wind doesn’t ‘escape’ us, we take turns keeping an eye on it; there is always one of us out of the tent waiting on the wind to respond. We must be aware every minute, we can not fall sleep .”
” In the absence of any other activity, today, Manuel and Karin had a “ski walk”, with the certainty that no one before has used them in this same place. In short, time to relax, but with the same chaotic schedule we have already installed. Sometimes we surprise ourselves having breakfast at 12 pm, European time, which is around eight pm in Greenland. ”
” Manuel is also performing statistics on snow temperature with the computer for scientists to later study.”
May 22: Stop with a total of 924 mi (1.487 km)
” It was a day of rest and recovery. We have to be strong for the steps ahead both the crew and the WindSled . We have accumulated so much fatigue that we slept in the tent eleven hours straight! Well, all except Karin who preferred sleeping outside , despite the -18 º C we have. Better the cold than snoring she probably thought . After the long ‘nap’ , we have begun to reinforce the vehicle. We are a bit at the limit regarding the capability of ropes and pulleys , and this may be a factor to improve in future expeditions . Nothing really important , but we should be well prepared for the start of the next uncertain stage on this 1st circumnavigation through unknown areas of Greenland.”
” In fact , we will now turn the sled around . It is now facing north and we will set it southbound. We don’t know how it will respond to the wind but we are likely to be driven southeast . This time Karin and Hugo, will begin piloting , and if not good they will stop to wait for better conditions. Juan Manuel Viu , who sends us the forecast, announced that in a few hours the weather will be more favorable.”
“To recover from so much work, yesterday we had a party with rum, mp3 music and freshly made pancakes from our stove … Hours later, in a radio interview, Ramon asked the National Broadcasting Co. (RNE 1) , within their 24H Information Program (via satellite phone) , about the ‘sociological experiment’ of five people living in a tent just over 20 ft (6 m) long. It’s less space than in a small boat! But the truth is that the result is quite good considering there is no one around in over 342 mi (550 km) to switch company with.”
” Today we remembered the famous British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton , who in his frustration to reach the South Pole in the 1916 attempt , after the brig Endurance sank , eventually managed to save his men through the mythic journey he realized with a crew of five on a boat, the James Caird only 23 ft (7 m) in length. And they sailed 870 mi (1,400 km) for sixteen days in the wildest sea on the planet, heading for South Georgia. In distance , we are more or less even, 932 mi (1,500 km) in sixteen days, but of course , though space is scarce, the conditions of our frozen desert are much better.”
” By the way, it was a joy to listen to Juan Pablo Albar, who already traveled on the WindSled in years 2011-2012 in Antarctica , and who also participated in the radio program stating that thanks to the locomotive tent- now it was a lot better.”
May 21: 89 mi (143 km), a total of 906 mi (1,458 km)
Latitude: 79 ° 50′ N, Longitude: 42 ° 15′ W, Altitude: 7,415 ft (2,260 m)
” Today was a day of big decisions. We wanted to reach 80° North , but that makes our navigation risky, we could end up dragged into the mountains of the northeast. And we can not take that chance . So we stay at 25 mi (40 km) from that point and as soon as possible, we will proceed downslope.”
“This sunny night was spent in what will be our closest point to the North Pole and we will conclude it with a ‘ shot ‘ of rum, after enjoying the great couscous with almonds Karin has prepared for us and the dessert provided by Manuel : one chocolate cookie per capita . As for the big occasion !”
“We have to go downwards because if we go north, we would also be going east, as this is where the wind leads us, and therefore we could end up in the mountains near the coast, a very complicated situation because the wind is always against us. In fact, the next 435 mi (700 km) will be the toughest of the whole expedition, with strong lateralized winds that are by no means good for the sled .”
“Today, however , we had a good travel day : in 11 hours straight we have covered 89 mi (143 km) . Although there are more sastrugis , everything went smoothly. And that because beforehand we spent five hours in an improvised ‘ workshop ‘ for locomotive repair : we dug below the first module and went down there to go over the thousand knots, which are metaphorically speaking the screws, nuts and bolts of the WindSled. A thousand knots that hold the structure in place and that require maintenance .”
“Before departing, like every day, we checked the wind speed with the manometer. We verify that it has a strange behavior. At 7 ft (2 m) above the ground it registers certain values , but at 98 ft (30 m) there are often strong gusts of wind , and at 164 ft (50 m) it might suddenly suffer a 40 ° rotation. So we have to choose well the kite to use . Even so, once up there it may stop or go like crazy. Today we chose a 646 sq ft (60 sq m) one. We succeeded!”
“Our goal now is to wait for the wind to change and try to go for a period of thirty six hours straight. We are in the middle of the Northeast Greenland National Park, the world’s largest with 375,291 sq mi (972,000 sq km). It is a Biosphere Reserve where no one lives , except 27 people in military bases and 110 dogs. It was established in the year 1974 and if we were near the sea we might see the 15,000 musk oxen that inhabit the region, and who knows, maybe even polar bears, white whales and walruses . But here , in the interior , there is nothing .”
“The story of the day is that Hugo has spent a while trying to tune in on a radio channel, convinced , and us to , that today was the European Championship Final between the Real Madrid and the Atlético de Madrid. Karin was kept out of the loop . We realize our error. As mentioned, there is only ice here and we lose track of the days.”
“By the way, tomorrow at 22.45 hrs we will be contacted by a 24 hr National Radio Channel (RNE1) to participate in a scientific session with Mr. Cesar Nombela , Mr. Bernardo Herradón , Mr. Andrés Moya and Mr. Juan Pablo Albar . You can listen to us on a live show!”
May 20: 62.14 mi (100 km). A total of: 835.12 mi (1,344 km)
Latitude: 78 ° 50′ N, Longitude: 43 ° 63 ‘ W, Altitude: 8,048 ft (2,453 m)
” What a day . Four hours digging in the ice. The problem arose early this morning when Manuel Olivera was collecting data with the five-meter probe to determine snow density at different depths. However, the probe was released and fell ten feet (three meters) deep. We had to dig a hole that size to get it out, because without it we could not continue with the experiments.
At the end , we spent six hours between this and some repairs in the sled . There is always something to fix on this expedition because we are testing its behavior in the field. In any case, we are convinced that with some adaptations the vehicle could even carry more weight.
We can tell we are very close to the North Pole : the snow is much colder . So far, the samples we picked below the surface were -20 º C , but today we registered -34 º C ! Yet on the surface the snow temperature is -20 º C , raising due to the constant exposure to sun rays.
What surrounds us is similar to the Antarctic landscape, but with less sastrugis . We are already very close to the change of slope and the wind, our fuel , has a peculiar behavior. Its direction is Southeast on the surface, but 98 ft (30 m) high it switches to west, which makes us keep the kite low . Therefore, it’s more complicated to handle but it has been accomplished.
As we spend many hours piloting, and the meals are concentrated in the five-hour stops to rest, it comes handy the Greenlandic snacks Hugo Svensson brought along: narwhale, musk ox, caribou and cod jerky… Our ‘sweets’ .
The fact is that between one thing and another , we have not much time to relax so we fall asleep in a snap . And probably tomorrow we will have muscle soreness from digging. All for science. ”
May 19: 60.27 mi (97 km). A total of 773 mi (1,244 km)
Latitude: 77 575′ N, Longitude: 46 ° 05 ‘ W Altitude: 8,392 ft (2,558 m)
“This has not been a good day . Not everyday can be. And two black birds, we could not identify, flew over us . The only living species , apart from the five of us, we have seen since we began the expedition sixteen days ago . But the bad thing about today is that we broke some kite lines, the threads we handle on the sled, and have been slow to repair them. Not that there was much wind either, but we advanced while the lines were crossed, consequently breaking , and the kite has flown far away. We were left with frozen fingers after unraveling threads! With the effort and fatigue accumulated, today Ramon Larramendi had a downturn. We took good care, even spoiling him, and he has recovered . It is important to eat and drink more than usual in this climate.
At the end of the day the wind stopped and us also because we are ‘ the children of the wind ‘ .
We’re very far north , at the height of Qaannaq , in the Northwest region of Thule , in the world’s largest National Park and near one of the northernmost cities in the world . Only 600 people live there , and almost all Inuit. The settlement established around a U.S. Air Force base , where the Thule hunters regrouped . We ‘re close , but on the ice, with nothing in the horizon. We begin to think about turning east to slowly circumambulate Northern Greenland because the winds are not easy here .
In the tent, we are already installed in our routine: some resting, reading, writing or sewing clothes (a small tear is like a knife when the freezing cold of the Arctic gets in. We also continue collecting data from the snow. On Thursday we will try , if communications permit, to participate in a scientific gathering on the National Radio . We look forward to sharing this experience with investigators . And we wish to listen to the EuroCup Final, if the radio which Hugo has brought tunes in on the proper channel. ”
May 18: 115 mi (185 km), in total 713 mi (1,147 km)
Latitude: N 77º 55′, Longitude: W 47º 01 ‘, Altitude: 8,760 ft (2,670 m)
“Beyond the point of possible return… We have already passed the only point where we could have returned on our own on this ice desert, where we have been for 15 days, if we had had problems. So, we are still in full swing. Today we have ‘sailed’ 115 mi (185 km), packed for sixteen hours. We have already covered a total of 713 mi (1,147 km). Everything works perfectly , except one of the two satellite communication terminals that we have on board, which last weekend received an excess charge from the solar panels and burned .
We have been over an area with many sastrugis , these small dunes of ice, half a meter high , which make us bounce more than usual , but now we sleep like children even while navigating. Dressing while bouncing is another story…
Now we are in a territory where Ramón Larramendi has never been before, where nobody goes , unless to control a weather station . Therefore, data gathering of snow in this area is of particular interest.
We have been very close, about 16.6 mi (30 km), to Neem Camp, a scientific facility from the University of Copenhagen which was closed in 2012 and in which ice was cut to study changes in climate for more than 130,000 years ago .The accumulated snow , converted into ice , keeps a lot of information . The Neem Camp is a giant polyhedron which has hosted scientific proceedings of great interest between years 2009 and 2012. But it is now abandoned, pending future projects. There is nobody in this area anymore, near the Greenland National Park, the largest one in the world and where we will enter in a few hours . We are the only ones collecting scientific data in thousands of square miles around us.”
May 17: 91.34 mi (147 km)
Latitude: N 75 º 269 458′ Longitude: W 46 ° 596065′ Altitude: 8,849 ft (2,697 m)
” A halo in the sun like a rainbow , a concentric ring of colors that forms around our star and is caused by ice particles suspended in the stratosphere, which refract light . The strange and fascinating phenomenon is the part we have enjoyed in the last 11 hours we have been moving over Greenland ice . We have traveled 91.34 mi (147 km). In the interim, a kite change of 861 sq ft (80 sq m ) to 215 sq ft (20 sq m) for the second shift. The wind was too strong.”
But the kite change takes time, an hour or so , so that’s why we try to maintain it. In fact , Karin and Hugo, in their turn , took each a control knob to withstand the wind pressure . However, we got to exceed 18.64 mi (30 km) / h , with an icy fog that prevented us from seeing the kite. There was a time when the kite was up in the sun while we were stuck in a stubborn fog below ; unable to see at 164 ft (50 m) above the ground . Spooky .
The truth is that the pace of life is slow . It takes time to act at minus 25 º C. It’s at a slow pace that we prepare the cookers, melt snow , cook (today bieng done by Karin) ; even dressing takes time, with four or five layers to protect us. Except Hugo , who better supports the Greenlandic cold and who sometimes works without gloves! When we stop to rest Eusebio reads his ‘ebook’ while Manuel continues to collect snow data; Hugo and Ramon review the materials in the meanwhile.
We are surrounded by a landscape in which , interestingly enough , it seems like the horizon is near, even while being on a frozen desert . Due to the curvature of the Earth , we have the feeling of being on a huge snow globe . As soon as we rest and have breakfast , there we go… ”
May 16: 105 mi (170 km)
“The days are a mess . We had dinner , dessert took a nap for an hour and then breakfast. It’s what happens with these shifts. Today we did 105 miles driven by very good wind. Also we have good weather and a perfect flat surface for the wind sled . Now , with the Sun present 24 hours a day, less than 20 ° C is lived much better. Today we went through a sastrugis area , with snow dunes that were overcome smoothly. Now everything is flat around us. We are already thinking that at this rate we will soon reach the northernmost point of the expedition, the last population of Thule in Parallel 78º, or 79º . We will not go further because there is a great risk of getting stuck if we descend to a lower altitude .”
“The tent seems like a language academy. When we stop, we take the opportunity to give language lessons. Ramón learns Danish and improves his Greenlandic , Manuel, Danish and Karin and Hugo learn Spanish . A school on ice. But most of the time it is work . We have to pilot , cook ( it’s up to Hugo, almost always) , melt snow ( that’s Ramón’s chore, up to 507.21 fl oz or 15 liters of water a day ), and the experiments. The latter is done by Manuel . Digging a 3.3 ft (1 m) hole is hard, “Fingers get frozen”, he says but he accomplishes it anyway. Today, the second time, and to be done every 248 mi (400 km) or less. There he measures temperature and density of the snow, and then transfers the data to the computer.”
“In addition, at every stop, Manuel introduces another 16.40 ft (5 m) long instrument in the ground to extract samples from within. He likes it , as now, enjoying the handling of the kite. He, who was part of the Circumpolar Expedition with Larramendi 20 years ago with dog sleds , is now delighted with the kite .” “They obey much better,” he says. He does’t even have arm muscle stiffness. His only complaint, but jokingly , is that he has no right to a corner inside the living tent. “On the next expedition I will demand a pentagon tent, I now am in the center, among a lot of feet” .
Karin Moe Bojsen, the only woman in the group , also has a complaint she already feared before starting the journey : ” They snore like polar bears.” And the truth is that she has every reason in the world to say it.
May 15: A stop
Latitude : N 72 º 32.160′, Longitude: W 45 º 28.483′, Altitude: 8,986 ft (2.739 m)
” The amount of miles we did yesterday has tired us. It was a long, cold day, with low visibility due to a storm that came upon us although it was not too strong. In the end, we had to release the kite because there was no way to lower it, being constantly inflated by wind.
The risk was that the fog “swallowed” the kite, and us. The worst was going to get it. We could not see anything, so we left the sled with the GPS to be able to return ‘home’ afterwards. The WindSled disappeared from view after a few meters. The problem was that we broke the transparent tent we carry in the front, where the pilots go. A window seam could not stand the pressure of the journey and today it has taken us a long time to disassemble, re- stitch and put it back in place. We took advantage of the stop to fix a rail and Manuel has also been devoted to collecting snow samples for scientific projects we are doing for the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE- CSIC), Higher Council for Scientific Research.
Now, we are ready to start a new phase. What hours! you will probably think, but here, with 24 hours of sun light, days are confusing. We lose track of time . We now have an excellent position to navigate the ice.
Cold, 25 degrees Celsius below zero, but at this altitude its navigating well, so we want to do sixteen hours straight without a break on the WindSled . First, two two-hour shifts (Karin, Hugo and Manuel Eusebio) and then two six hours ones. Ramón divides his time with each turn. Right now, with 497 mi (799 km) already done, we still have more than 372 mi (600 km) to the norh to later progress to the east of Greenland. Lets go get them! ”
May 14: 136 mi (220 km)
Latitude: N 70 º 32.159′, Longitude: W 45 ° 28.483′, Altitude: 8,202 ft (2,500 m.)
” We have finally made a long journey, after three days on standstill. 136 mi (220 km) without stopping, in one assault.
From 4.30 in the morning until 1o.30 without stopping. All with a 215 sq ft (20 sq m) kite . The wind was good at 45º angle, and we could go well. We are already on top of the Greenland inland plateau at 8,202 ft (2,500 meters) and this is what we wanted, because these days we were too close to the coast, in an area like a hole with peculiar local winds. The bad news is the storm. Nothing is seen outside and the wind is strong, so we had to stop and dedicate ourselves to remove snow from the sled.
To regain strength we’ve given ourselves a good plate of pasta with meat, and ham, which is always a deli. And for dessert , to celebrate the distance covered, a shot of rum. This bottle has to last us five to celebrate our milestones in the expedition. Now to rest, if the storm permits. In the south, we have been told that the cruise industry has had to cancel their trips. Hopefully the bad weather will twist off its course and not reach us. ”
May 13: A stop
Latitude: N 70 32.159′, Longitude: W 46 38.590′, Altitude: 7,113 ft (2,168 m)
” We are now eager for the weather to change. Today we also had the wind totally against us at 27 mi (45 km) per hour and from the North, the way we are headed. No choice but to be patient, take time to fix things and enjoy some wonderful sunsets and sunrises. With this wind, the sled fills with snow, which we remove when it accumulates in excess. Today we called the COPE broadcadsting station. That’s what technology is, thousands of miles away, in a place where we only see ice and snow, we may perfectly call any place in the world. It’s cold, 25 degrees Celsius below zero, but the wind chill factor makes it even lower. We are encouraged, but wanting to continue our route North. ”
May 12: A stop
Latitude : N 70 32.159′, Longitude: W 46 38.590′, Altitude: 7,113 ft (2,168 m)
” The whole day on standby. The wind is lateral with respect to our direction and yesterday we decided to stop after the WindSled suffered so, taken to the limit of the materials resistance. Two pulleys and a damaged kite is the balance. The load of 3,307 lbs (1,500 kg), 1,102 lbs more than in Antarctica 2012, is evident. We have been studying how to take advantage of the material we have, adapting the vehicle to new circumstances so as not to force the line we’re going to wait for the wind to change. We test for the characterization of the snow. We also to try to send in a picture, but internet goes badly, the connection is frequently lost and it’s impossible.”
And we simulated what to do in case of a heavy storm, what if the tents rip ? In that case we have to seek shelter under the sled, so we raised it, held it with boxes and we all got inside, to see if we would all fit. Hopefully, we won’t have to do it, but if necessary it will work.
Despite the problems with the unfriendly wind, the group ambiance is excellent. We are convinced that we will culminate successfully our circumnavigation of Greenland.
By the way, tomorrow morning, at 11.45 hours, we will be interviewed live on broadcasting channel COPE, in case you want to listen!
May 11: On route
Latitude : N 70 32.159 ‘, Longitude : W 46 38.590’, Altitude: 7,133 ft (2168 m).
” Today we have traveled over 62 mi (100 km) until noon, although it has not been smooth sailing with lateral winds and a load of one and a half tons … But we have managed to attain 7218 ft (2,200 m) on the vast Greenland inland plateau, with constant ups and downs on the route. The temperature is around minus 20 degrees Celsius. Tonight we hope the wind changes for the better. As the days pass, the team is increasingly integrated and works flawlessly. ”
May 10: On route with lateral winds
Latitude : N 69 761531 ‘, Longitude : W 46 849886’, Altitude : 6,385 ft (1,945.81 m).
” Before every departure, the piloting shift is already expert in repositioning the direction of the WindSled . We have verified the need to increase our weight about 55 lbs (25 kg) to have better control on the vehicle with kites of 861 sq ft (80 sq m) and 646 sq ft (60 sq m). Today, the handling of the kites has been almost in horizontal in order to harness enough power to move. In addition, a pulley system has failed. We have taken advantage of the stop to carry out some of the experiments that we have planned. Specifically, we collected snow samples with the drill on board and we have measured their density and weight, taking measurements every 3.9 in (10 cm), up to ten times, to analyze a 3.3 ft (1 m) deep section. ”
May 9: A stop
Latitude : N 69 38.822 ‘, Longitude : W 46 49.007 ‘, Altitude : 6,188 ft (1,886 m).
” It’s Manuel Olivera’s birthday, who turns 52, and we celebrated it with a few shots of rum and pancakes instead of a cake. But it has been a little shaky today after suffering some problems with two kites and the central pulley. As a result, we spent some time fixing and trying to connect to the Inmarsat satellite to send in some pictures, but it’s not possible. In the end, today we will only advance about 14 mi (21 km) till the noon stop. The sun accompanies us throughout the journey and provides fantastic images of this vast white plain where there is nothing on the horizon.”
May 8: On route
Latitude : N 69 27.535 ‘, Longitude: W 46 40.833’, Altitude : 6,152 ft (1,875 m).
” Today, the beginning was delayed because there were some repairs to do on the sled. The wind was favorable, but cold . Luckily maintenance work has been completed in reasonable time facilitating an early start with a distance of 72 mi (115 km) covered. Shortly after starting, we managed to reach a peak of 24 mi (40 km) / h, which we immediately decreased because it was too risky. Moreover, we have passed through an area of crevices at the height of Ilussisat Glacier, which has forced us to make complicated bypassing maneuvers. The night shift was led by Eusebio Beamonte and Ramon Larramendi, while the other three rested. Shifts were distributed so that Ramon is shared between the two established duets : one with Eusebio and Manuel Olivera ; another with Karin Moe Bojsen and Hugo Svensson.
May 7: First day
Latitude : N 68 25.937 ‘, Longitude : W 46 27.831 ‘, Altitude : 6,040 ft (1,841 m).
” It has been the first big day on this circumnavigation ! The WindSled has covered 103 mi (166 km) with a 861 sq ft (80 sq m) kite which had provided an average of 12 mi (20 km) / h, navigating with a stunning setting sun. We have already begun to organize our piloting shifts. There are two periods of about ten hours each, with a common break of four hours. To sleep or nap while the sled progresses has not been easy with the rattle, but a matter of getting used to. I am sure tomorrow everyone falls rendered. ”
May 6: The first tests
Latitude : N 67 1.367 ‘, Longitude : W 47 57.658 ‘, Altitude : 5,105 ft (1,556 m)”
” Today all expedition members have had to practice navigation techniques with kites. There was not to much wind, but enough to drive the WindSled, which weighs a ton and a half, about 14 mi (21 km). The leader of the expedition, Ramón Larramendi, has had to teach the rudiments of piloting to the other four team members, who had not traveled on this type of vehicle before. There has been a line break, which was corrected without major problems. ”
May 4 and 5: Preparing the equipment
” On days 4 and 5 we are still at the same place. Not a cold day, just a few degrees below zero, but at night it has dropped to 20 degrees Celsius below zero. We need to strengthen the structure of the sled, complete its assembly, arrange luggage in detail…Following our somewhat hasty departure from Kangerlussuaq due to the weather change, now we need to devote the entire day to this work. Without stopping a moment by the end of the day everything is ready. Well, actually, here, there is never a clear end to the day because at this time of year it never gets dark. It is more like a longlasting sunset that stretches out until sunrise. ”
May 3: Kangerlussuaq
Latitude : N 67 05824 ‘, Longitude: W 47 975148 ‘, Altitude : 5,085 ft (1,550 m)
” We wake up in Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) . Soon we have to stand up to bad weather approaching from the south and that our departure for the interior, scheduled for Monday the 5th to reach the ice cap, may be delayed several days. So we decided to go ahead… Everything precipitates. Almost no time to organize packages we thought. We will have to do so on the ground. ”
We left Kangerlussuaq on a Twin Otter aircraft at 15:00 hours local time. Soon we are on the ice, about 86 mi (140 km) from the coast, where we will begin our navigation. Upon leaving the plane, we set to work frantically assembling the sled, the basics. There are more than 180 knots, but despite the cold we do that quickly. At 21 hours we have put together the essentials, including the tent where we spend the night, the first night in the icy wilderness of Greenland’s interior. ”
May 1 and 2 : Departure from Madrid to Greenland
” At 1730 hours, the three explorers are already in the Adolfo Suárez -Madrid Barajas airport in time to board with all their gear, which is quite a bit. The Iberia flight leaves us in Copenhagen, where we spend the night. The next day, May the 2nd, we left early to Greenland, in particular to Kangerlussuaq, west of the island, which is the largest airport in the country. Fantastic weather welcomes us. We even feel quite warm with the hustle and bustle of loading and unloading all the expedition equipment. We have a month and a half long trying journey ahead. We’re all excited, the veterans and those who are not so. ”