Going up to northern Canada in winter, from the Brazilian summer is a challenge in its own right. Sao Paulo had been +40C for the entire couple of weeks just before we left up north and when we arrived in Winnipeg as our first stop, we could feel the temperature swing of a no small total of 70C, down to -30C. Slightly brisk.
We had never skied before and we were about to go even further north to Iqaluit on Baffin Island in order to conduct a polar training course with the McNair family – a family of polar explorers who have managed so much with their polar expeditions to the Poles, across Greenland and on Baffin Island itself, as well as the frozen Northwest Passage. Incredible people. So we had to prepare – a crash course in cross-country skiing when a couple of friends from Minneapolis, Derek and Nadia, came up to see us, and then testing all the polar clothing we had got over the year.
Before finally… we left, heading up north to close to the Arctic Circle. It was a great flight in over the islands and frozen ocean, though it was difficult to be fully prepared for the incredibly intensive training we were about to face – pretty much 24/7 of learning experience over the next few weeks – in order to get us into shape so we could go on our own independent expeditions into the Arctic wilderness.
Blog posts from our polar survival training
After the successful completion of the goals of Day 6, we were a little tired but felt good. We only had 4km to go to get back to Northwinds and meet with Sarah and Matty again. The conditions stayed perfect and this proved to be nice and easy, even with a bit of a sleep […]
The distance of 10 nautical miles (about 18.5km) in one day is a bit of a benchmark for polar expeditions. To be able to get to the South Pole in particular, teams consistently need to travel over such distances day after day in order to make it there before their supplies run out and the […]
After the preceding day of 14km over the ice we had a bit of a slower day today as we would spend the morning and early afternoon practicing protective measures against bears (flares and rifles), and … swimming. Basically we were at an area where the tidal currents are so strong that the ice does not […]
After the difficult day on the ice the previous day, the winds did not relent overnight and it was decided in the morning that, with the winds and low visibility, we would take a weather-day: stay in the tent until the winds calmed down. In truth, both Natalia and I were grateful that the winds […]
Looking back over the training with the McNairs, and this day was definitely the most intense, hardest and thought provoking. It was the worst day for me, and not so good for Natalia either, and at the end of it we even questioned ourselves about how cut-out we are for this whole project and dream […]
One of the final tasks before the end of the training with Matty and Sarah and before our planned larger expedition to Auyuittuq, was a six-day mini-expedition during which we would spend half the time with Sarah accompanying us and the rest by ourselves, with one other group member, Simon Foster – a photographer who […]
So the training continued, with the GPS day bringing us back down to earth, especially in regard to the difficulties in the extreme polar environment. We continued our intensive learning in Iqaluit, hauling our pulks out into rough ice and practicing pulling them over pressure ridges… Pressure ridges in the ice are caused by the […]
We went into the training with plenty of confidence – probably partly due to having so little experience in the conditions, we were confident in our ability to adapt. Rightly so, as time has proved in our favor, though we certainly had difficult days. One such day was when we started navigation skills and learning […]
Matty and Sarah would repeat the “if you sweat, you die” phrase to us over and over again during the training course. It is absolutely the most important thing to keep in your mind when on expeditions in the polar environment. Basically, even when it is -40C outside, the body produces its own heat. Even […]
A good couple of months ago, Natalia and I began our polar survival training with Sarah and Matty McNair-Landry, in Iqaluit, Canada. The itnerary of the months, after our previous ten days crash cross-country skiing training in Winnipeg: two weeks training with the McNairs, to be followed by a week of kite-skiing; three weeks (or […]
It has been an intensive couple of weeks here in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, Canada. We have been training in polar survival with Northwinds, a company run by the McNair family – a family of experienced and accomplished polar explorers. Being here in Iqaluit itself is an incredible experience. The entire ocean around us is completely […]
On our way! Going to Iqaluit in 30 mins… a chilly -35C waiting for us though fortunately no excess baggage charges this time…. hopefully all the training pays off. Here goes!
We have been in Winnipeg for around four full days now, and have been testing the equipment and continuing our training. Now we have started our cross-country skiing – testing Flexi-bindings that we got from Eric Phillips – a renowned polar explorer. These are bindings that are big enough to go over our Baffin Boots […]
We arrived in Winnipeg yesterday so today has been spent testing our clothing and equipment. It is great to be here after all the time we have spent preparing, and even better getting away from the suffocating heat of Sao paulo, though we are not even close to beginning the real hard work. That will […]