Crossing the Greenland ice cap by foot still is one of the biggest challenges in modern exploration. This feat was first achieved by Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen in 1888. To commemorate his achievement, a group of 5 explorers and one guide will attempt to relive this remarkable journey starting in May.

The Greenland Ice cap is the second largest body of ice on Earth. It stretches more than 2’500 km north-south and measures 1’100 km across. It covers more than 82% of Greenland and elevates up to 3 km making any crossing almost a high-altitude trip. Credit: Michael Wenger
The Greenland Ice cap is the second largest body of ice on Earth. It stretches more than 2’500 km north-south and measures 1’100 km across. It covers more than 82% of Greenland and elevates up to 3 km making any crossing almost a high-altitude trip. Credit: Michael Wenger

A record-setting Kiwi explorer, a New Zealand endurance athlete, a respected international videographer and an intrepid Australian adventurer (who once slept for nearly three months to overcome a head injury) are preparing for the challenge of a lifetime – traversing the Greenland Ice Cap. This will be the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s third Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition and will see the team attempt to ski across the second largest body of ice in the world over a month, dragging 60 kilogramme sleds behind them for more than 560 kilometres. The expedition will begin in early May, and will honour iconic Norwegian polar explorer, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof Nansen. Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson, who will also attempt the crossing, says this will be the Trust’s longest and most challenging Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition yet. “Part of the Trust’s mission is to encourage the spirit of exploration. This expedition will celebrate the 130th anniversary of one of the world’s great polar exploration stories - Nansen’s crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap in 1888, the first time the feat was accomplished. Nansen’s experience and his pioneering polar equipment revolutionised long distance polar travel. The Trust has conserved items including Nansen sledges and Nansen cookers in the early explorers’ huts that we care for in Antarctica, tangible examples of Nansen’s influence on the likes of Scott and Shackleton. Our own expedition will be the challenge of a lifetime. We handpicked the final four young people from nearly 200 applicants and we are very excited about the calibre of the team.”

 The team consists (from left to right): Hollie Woodhouse, Brando Yelavich, Keith Parsons, Bengt Rotmo, and Bridget Kruger. AHT Director Nigel Watson is missing. Credit: AHT
The team consists (from left to right): Hollie Woodhouse, Brando Yelavich, Keith Parsons, Bengt Rotmo, and Bridget Kruger. AHT Director Nigel Watson is missing. Credit: AHT

24 year-old New Zealander Brando Yelavich was just 19 when he became the first person to circumnavigate New Zealand on foot. He followed that with an unforgiving 32-day solo trip around Stewart Island, and is about to set off on a tour of New Zealand schools to inspire Kiwi kids. Christchurch’s Hollie Woodhouse is an endurance athlete who has competed in some of the most gruelling adventure races on the planet, from the Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert, to the 230km Jungle Ultra through the Amazon. Australian Bridget Kruger has worked as an outdoor instructor and adventure therapist all over the world. In 2012, she overcame a traumatic head injury after being run over by a dog-sled. She slept for three months before undergoing intensive therapy to regain her short-term memory, the ability to balance, and to think coherently. Melbourne’s Keith Parsons is a skilled videographer. He has worked as a freelancer in Africa and Australia, and for major news media companies and NGOs in the United Kingdom and Australia. He is an avid trail runner with a passion for history and the environment. Renowned Norwegian company Borge Ousland Polar Exploration’s head guide Bengt Rotmo will lead the crossing. He has a wealth of polar guiding experience in Greenland and beyond. “All of our Inspiring Explorers will be working hard to share their story of the Greenland expedition. Through this we hope to inspire others to get out, explore and make the most of the incredible world we live in.”

Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen was the first to cross the Greenland Ice cap in 1888. As scientist and keen observer, he shaped modern Polar exploration with many of his inventions and newly developed tools. Credit: Henry Van Der Weide
Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen was the first to cross the Greenland Ice cap in 1888. As scientist and keen observer, he shaped modern Polar exploration with many of his inventions and newly developed tools. Credit: Henry Van Der Weide

New Zealand outdoors company Kathmandu has signed on as an expedition sponsor. The team will be road-testing some of their XT Series, which has been specifically developed for extreme environments. Kathmandu Marketing Manager Tim Loftus says the company was built on innovation and the hunger to explore so partnering with the Trust for this expedition was an easy decision. “We encourage our customers every day to get out and explore what the world has to offer, so we’re proud to support this expedition which encapsulates the true spirit of inspiration and exploration.”

Source: Antarctic Heritage Trust