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Countdown to Greenland

Updated: Sep 27, 2018

Ummmm… so in case you hadn’t heard, I’m going to GREENLAND! The second largest Ice Cap, and the largest island on the planet. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago how I felt about this, I would have given you a cool, calm and collected answer, but now this epic expedition is less than three weeks away, the nerves are tipping the crazy scale. But in a good way… sort of. The enormity of the expedition is starting to sink in – 25 days (+ or -), walking nine or so hours a day, covering 560 kilometres from West to East, while pulling a 60kg sledge! Bonkers! Or AMAZING, depending on your outlook. So why the heck would I think this was a great idea…???

While getting reading for work one October morning last year listening to Radio NZ (and for all of you who have just rolled your eyes, this programme is a wealth of information), I heard a short interview with the Antarctic Heritage Trust about an upcoming expedition they had planned. In its third year, Inspiring Explorers aims to connect young people with Antarctica's history and the spirit of exploration. So while I am aware Greenland is situated as far away from Antarctica as possible, the ethos of the mission is the same. The Trust are the guardians of the legacy of exploration in Antarctica and are acutely aware of the pivotal role the North and South Poles have as ‘barometers’ for environmental change. They were asking for young Kiwis and Aussies, aged 20-35 to apply to retrace the footsteps of iconic Norwegian polar explorer, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Fridtjof (pronounced frid-choff) Nansen, who made the first crossing in 1888, 130 years ago.

I always answer ‘yes’ immediately and think about it later (sometimes not the best scenario) but as the day rolled on, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew I had to give it a shot. How often in a lifetime does an opportunity like this come along??

Roll on a few months, and I found myself with five others spending a weekend together at the end of January doing high ropes, camping and learning as much as we could about the AHT and the expedition. It was a weird situation – meeting these amazing people but also in a way competing against them. I wanted more than anything for my name to be on the ‘yes’ list. With the information I had, the more I could see this was (excuse the corny line) an opportunity of a lifetime.

And now here I am, pulling 30kg of tyres in my spare time and having random and wonderful conversations with strangers as I explain why I am in this situation. The countdown is on with less than three weeks left to go before we fly. There will be six of us on the expedition – Nigel Watson, AHT Executive Director and Expedition Leader; Bengt Rotmo, Borge Ousland Polar Exploration Lead Guide; Aussie Inspiring explorers Bridget Kruger and Keith Parsons; and Kiwi Brando Yelavich who you might also know as ‘Wildboy’, the first person to circumnavigate NZ on foot. Check out more info on them here.

Greenland is a place that hasn’t never been on my radar before, but the more I learn about it, the more fascinated I am about this part of the world. I feel that there is no better way to learn about the environment than by experiencing the awe and wonder of it, and the effects on it first-hand, and then sharing that experience with others.


P.s. I have started another blog on the questions I get when I tell people I am going to Greenland. If you have a question then I'd love to hear from you!

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