Thursday, May 15, 2014

Greenland Circumnav Update: Picking Up Speed and Distance

With the North Pole season now over, and all of the expeditions in the Arctic evacuated, the remaining polar explorers are in Greenland, where conditions are always challenging, even in the spring. The most prominent expedition there at the moment is the attempt by Dixie Dansercoer and Eric McNair-Landry to circumnavigate around the country via kite-ski. After getting off to a slow start due to poor weather, and a seemingly never-ending chain of storms, the two men have finally been able to truly launch their 5000 km (3100 mile), 80-day journey. And thanks to improved conditions there, they are now covering some impressive distance on a daily basis.

The boys have now been out on the ice for 36 days, but most of the early days of the expedition saw them tent-bound as they waited for storms to pass, and weather to improve. While they managed to eke out a few meager miles over that time, it wasn't until last week that they could really get going. Now, they're averaging more than 150 km (93 miles) per day, which is quickly putting them back on schedule. In a dispatch a few days back, they indicated that in order to complete the expedition on time, they would need to average 50 km (31 miles) per day. They have been exceeding that quite easily this week thanks to strong, steady winds to help pull their kites.

Those greatly improved conditions have allowed Dixie and Eric to approach a major milestone as well. As of yesterday, they had gone over the 2000 km (1242 mile) mark, which means they are rapidly approaching the halfway point of the journey. If they keep up their current pace over the next few days, they should reach that point sometime this weekend. That would put them back on schedule, with another 2500 km to go, and 40 days to get there.

Since they are traveling with the midnight sun at the moment, the two veteran polar explorers can choose when they want to rest, and when they want to catch the wind. They've been watching the forecasts closely, and planning their days around the arrival of the strongest winds, which has been paying off for them so far.

All of this is good news for the team. Things looked awfully grim at the start of the journey, but now they are close to getting completely back on track. They still have a very long way to go before they are done, but if they manage to keep covering large chunks of mileage each day, they'll be on the home stretch before we know it. I'll continue to post updates on their progress.

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