RAMON HERNANDO de LARRAMENDI-Project leader
Ramón Hernando de Larramendi is undoubtedly one of the great polar explorers from the late twentieth century. He was born in Madrid in the year 1965. Since very young he looked for much less populated areas to end up crossing and navigating the most inhospitable places on the planet: the Arctic and Antarctica.
In 1985, aged 19, he tested his strength on a journey on skis in the Pyrenees, along with classmates. It was the beginning of the adventure he continued that same year in the frozen lands of northern Europe. Ramón and a group of friends organized a 400 km (248.54 mi) traverse through Iceland with the same system. They were able to obtain a grant of 400,000 pesetas, the currency at the time, from the Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Madrid City Council). That first international experience was a great success and thanks to it in 1986 they won two prizes: “Nescaf: your adventure is worth a million” and another one awarded by Antena 3 TV Channel.
The prize money was immediately invested in an ambitious new destination, more so for the group of just turned twenty year olds: the first Spanish crossing of the Greenland ice cap on skis in 1986: Trans Greenland Expedition. This was a fifty five day journey in which they traveled 700 km (434.95 mi).
The following years and unable to stop now, he accomplished new challenges: In 1988, Ramon became the first to circumnavigate the Iberian Peninsula by kayak; 3500 km (2174.79 mi) in hardly one hundred and eight days. The following year, he navigated the coast of Norway from north to south, another 2500 km (1553.42 mi) by kayak in eighty five days.
But the first major historic milestone of Ramon came with the Mapfre Circumpolar Expedition. For three long years from 1990 to 1993, the explorer traveled 14000 km (8699.19 mi) using only dogsled and kayak. He traveled from Greenland to Alaska. It is one of the most important geographic exploration feats in the twentieth century. As such, that journey, which was published in The National Geographic Magazine (Global Edition), consecrated him as a great explorer worldwide. He was only twenty five years of age when he reached the geomagnetic North Pole.
During this long journey, he had the opportunity to live with the Inuit people. He learned many of their customs, their language and also dog sledding construction in the traditional way. It was an intense life experience that brought him closer to the culture of people living in extreme conditions and established him as an expert in the exploration of the polar regions. In the years following there were long stays in the isolated region of Thule in Northern Greenland.
He is the author of one of the best books that have been written concerning the Inuit people in Spanish language and also participated as co-author of the book “Three years across the Arctic” published by Desnivel in 1993.
After his long journey he began working with RTVE and “At the Edge of the Impossible” program, participating as their camera in 1998, in another epic journey in which they reached the magnetic North Pole on skis. The following year, with the same TV program, they would reach the geographic North Pole in a hard foot crossing that lasted sixty days and in which they endured temperatures of 50 degrees C below zero. A trip to be remembered as one of the toughest of his life, and in which he almost lost his life in the icy waters. Both expeditions were civilian-military collaborations with EMMOE (Mountain Military School and Special Operations) located in Jaca, Huesca province.
That very same year he began to concoct his project of designing a sled that was capable of being wind driven on the icy surfaces of the Earth. It is the first polar vehicle driven by renewable energies and was then named “the polar catamaran”. In the year 2000, he tests it in Canada and Greenland, where 600 km (372.82 mi) of journey are recorded with “At the Edge of the Impossible” TV program.
After the first successful trials, in year 2001 and along with the explorer José Manuel Naranjo, he organizes a new expedition to the large island of ice: the Trans Greenland Expedition, in which they travel 2225 km (1382.55 mi) in just thirty two days without external support and without having left before pre depots. All thanks to the WindSled. On this journey, Naranjo and Larramendi excel in the distance traveled per day in polar exploration. The feat would be prized with the “Journey of the Year Award” by the Spanish Geographical Society in year 2001.
In the following years, he realizes new expeditions with the WindSled in the interior of Greenland, from north to south and from east to west, to prepare the desired jump to Antarctica. With the support of Mapfre, Acciona and Spanish Television (RTVE), they perform the first Trans Antarctic Expedition 2005-2006, 4500 km (2796.17 mi) in sixty three days. For the first time ever, the team reaches the South Pole of inaccessibility, i.e. the most difficult access point of the Antarctic continent, and therefore of the planet.
In 2009, he performs as guide of the expedition “South Pole Without Limits”, the first to be held with the participation of disabled and sponsored by La Caixa Bank. They attain the geographic South Pole after covering 250 km (155.34 mi) in three weeks and withstanding temperatures of 32 degrees C below zero. On this occasion, the expedition travels with Ignacio Oficialdegui and three people with different physical problems.
The next big adventure will be the Windpowered Acciona Antarctica Expedition 2011-2012 sponsored by the company Acciona, in which Larramendi and team cross the mainland from side to side, 3500 km (2174.79 mi) driven by the wind. This is the first time scientific experimentation is performed. This journey will also be awarded and recognized by the Spanish Geographical Society, business category, in the year 2012.
In addition to his exploration activities, since 1997 he runs a travel agency by the name of Tasermiut South Greenland Expeditions, which he founded to offer the possibility to worldwide travelers of enjoying the beauty of the polar regions that he knows so well. It is headquartered in Narssasuq, South Greenland, the island in which he lives several months a year.
He has launched a development project for the region of Thule, the northernmost populated indigenous and isolated area of the world, where he lived for long periods. It was the starting place of most of the expeditions attempting to reach the geographic North Pole in the early twentieth century. In Thule there are still Inuit who preserve ancient traditions lost in the rest of Greenland and Ramón proposed himself to keep these traditions and know how alive.
– “Three years across the Arctic” (publisher DESNIVEL, 1993) with Manuel Olivera, Antonio Martínez and Rafael Peche. The narration of the Mapfre Circumpolar Expedition, 14000 km (8699.19 mi) in dogsled and kayak from Greenland to Alaska.
– “Eskimos” (publisher MAPFRE, 1991). An anthropological study of the Inuit world, prehistory, their life before European contact, contact history and their current situation in Greenland, Canada and Alaska at the time.
– “Trans Antarctic Expedition 2005 – 2006” (publisher LA MIRADA GENEROSA). The story of the first expedition to traverse by navigating the WindSled, the vast, icy interior of Antarctica. Also an English version.