GREENLAND TRAVERSE SOUTH-NORTH 2001

Picture8b-470x260Ramón Larramendi prepares the south-north Greenland expedition having just returned from the prior one.

 

This new crossing will become the fastest polar expedition in history at that point in time. Its participants will cover a distance of 421 km (261.59 mi) in twenty four hours. In total, the expeditionary will travel 2408 km (1496.26 mi) in just thirty two days crossing the world’s largest island from one end to another.

Since this journey is much more ambitious than the one in the previous year, the vehicle requires improvements to be incorporated before departure: The strengthening of the kites with Kevlar, changing controls to facilitate the handling by the pilot and placing a greater size tent on to the sled.

On this occasion, Ramón Larramendi was sponsored by the TV Program “Al Filo de lo Imposible” (At the Edge of the Impossible) by RTVE.

Ramón Larramendi and José Manuel Naranjo depart from Qaleraliq Glacier in the south, in late April 2001, with a temperature on the glacier of 20 degrees Celsius below zero. From the beginning, it is a difficult journey. The first few days because the expeditionary encounter headwinds with which they can barely move even using the largest kite on board, a 35 square meter (376.73 sq ft) one. Later on because of a windstorm which eventually unleashed one of the kites, being a hazard to their lives.

But after the eventualities at the beginning, the weather improved and the WindSled again demonstrated its ability to navigate at a pace of between 15 and 20 km (12.42 mi) per hour. During one of these days, it managed to run twenty four hours straight effectively covering a distance of 421 km (261.59 mi) in a day.

Near Melville Bay the ice condition changes and sastruguis (ripples in the ice) that were not more than 20 cm (7.87 inches) so far, become large lumps that reach 70 cm (27,56 inches). The sled overcomes these obstacles without great difficulty, proof that the design, construction based on the traditional Inuit, is best suited for the polar lands. To know what kind of kite should be used and when the sailing conditions are not ideal, the expeditionary use an anemometer (a device that measures the direction and force of the wind).

Once in the mountains of Thule, Larramendi and Naranjo overcome new difficulties to find an adequate descent, until they reach a point where they must leave the sled and seek a route on skis. After several miles downwards, they approach the small town of Qeqertaq in Thule, where they finally culminate the expedition successfully. Larramendi is increasingly convinced that the WindSled runs.

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