People & Culture

New Land Expedition: Halfway point

  • May 06, 2013
  • 563 words
  • 3 minutes
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Photo: Toby Thorleifsson and John Huston endure winds of up to 20 knots. (Photo courtesy of New Land 2013)

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Hugh Dale-Harris organizes the camp in the storm.

The New Land 2013 expedition is following the route of Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup across Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. This blog was written by John Huston.

We’re about halfway through the expedition now, so it’s time for another installment of fun expedition stats and facts. But first a quick wrap-up of what has taken place over the last two days.

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The team assembles the tent in the storm.

We’ve kind of been on the border of spring on this expedition, and it’s been very warm. Sometimes we’re skiing only in our long underwear tops and our pants fully unzipped. But yesterday afternoon we got hammered by a good storm; we haven’t had a big blow like that yet on the trip. Visibility dropped to basically zero; we had a lot of trouble seeing in front of us. Winds picked up to 15 to 20 knots from the northwest, so we called it a day right after the first march and took our time carefully putting up the tents and staking out the dogs, making sure nothing blew away. It was a loud night in the tent, because it was getting battered by winds, but it was safe. It gets your adrenaline up a little bit when you’re working in conditions like that.

Today we entered Nansen Sound for the first time. This huge body of water leads out to the Arctic Ocean and the northernmost point we’re heading towards called Land’s Lokk, which is also Otto Sverdrup’s furthest north point — it’s a special destination for us. Ski conditions were totally awesome, and we are out in the middle of the sound and looking at mountainous cliffs on two horizons to the northeast and to the south.

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Larry, one of four dogs on the trip, pulls some of the heaviest loads.

Okay, here come some expedition stats from the first half of the expedition:

  • Total distance traveled so far: 284.4 nautical miles
  • Number of 32-gigabyte memory cards full of video and photo so far: 17. Good job, Kyle.
  • Number of bears seen: only two
  • Number of wolves seen: 35, including 12 around Eureka repeatedly
  • Number of Arctic foxes seen: five
  • Number of seals seen: eight
  • Number of muskox seen: 31
  • Most common water source early on in the trip: snow, preferably very dense snow blocks from wind-packed snow berms
  • Most common water source lately: chipped pieces of ice from old sea ice blocks and/or icebergs.
  • The dog who is best at lying on its back with paws up for long periods of time at random points during the day: Elle.
  • Typical hours traveled per day: seven — we take time to film and walk on the land sometimes, so that’s why the hours travelled are relatively few compared to other expeditions like the North Pole or South Pole expeditions.
  • And the number of days until this expedition reaches its completion: only 33 — and it seems like it’s going to go very fast for us out here on the ice.

This blog was originally published on forwardendeavors.com. Read more blog posts from New Land 2013 here.

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