Nearing Qaanaaq (Thulé)

Published on 22.07.2009 - Emirates NBD Greenland Quest

Despite the headwind and difficult meteorological conditions, the three men are nearing their destination. Just a few hundred kilometers left.

This will undoubtedly be the biggest expedition ever undergone in Greenland. As the three men get closer to their destination and begin their descent of the last glacier along the west coast of the island (this is far from being fun considering the amount of melting crevasses and ice they are encountering), here is a first assessment of this extraordinary adventure.

First point: it is most admirable how they are managing to finish what they had their heart set on. The three men had set out a traverse from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic Ocean, coast to coast, and that's what they are about to accomplish. They were dropped off by a fishing boat along the south coast of the island. There, they spent three days climbing a glacier before they reached the ice sheet – which few adventurers actually do. Generally, when a traverse is announced, a helicopter drops the travelers off on the ice sheet directly. On the other end of the traverse, Hayes and his two acolytes did not just look at the J.P. Kocks fjord (the northernmost point of the island) through their binoculars, they actually climbed it down all the way to the shore, making this a complete and successful traverse! It should probably also be reminded that the team completed the traverse without being resupplied along the way – that explains why the trio has had to ration its food supply lately.

Second point: courage, honesty and determination are the three words which describe at best the spirit of this adventure lead by Adrian Hayes. Once they had reached the JP Kocks fjord, they could have just called for a helicopter to pick them up and they would have been back warm in cozy in Thulé. It is definitely not the expedition's financial situation which prevented them from doing so. These men are purists (a species which is growing scarce in this world of polar adventurers) and they have decided to reach Qaanaaq by their own means, even if it entails – as we have just seen – rationing their food supplies.

Third point: just by looking at the numbers, we realize that this expedition will remain in the annals of adventure. The trio progressed 4,136 km over two months (21 July) - a record for polar adventure in Greenland.

Having said this, the end of the expedition is nearing. On July 21, they just had a few hundred kilometers left before reaching Thulé (Qaanaaq). These are the most difficult kilometers due to the melting ice and the numerous crevasses cracking through the glaciers of the island.

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