Thursday, 30 April 2009


I slowly stirred this morning to the sound of the stove roaring and Niall preparing a finely crafted brew. The tent was warm, a toasty 16C. Sunlight was blazing through the open door which could only mean one thing - perfect hauling conditions. Shorts, t-shirt, easy navigation and a beautiful vista. My dream ended abruptly with a powerful stinging sensation in my eyes, snow blindness. After blinking a few times to clear my eyes the literally chilling truth hits me, it's -10C, there's a vigorous wind shaking the tent, and worst of all it's still snowing. However life goes on and there's a job to be done, a sequence of events to achieve it.
7am and on with the snow. Melt ice, make drinks and then breakfast. Eat. Get out of warm sleeping bag. On with the salopettes, harness and jacket. Retrieve dry and very, very smelly socks from bottom of sleeping bag. A bit of foot surgery. Squeeze feet into what we pray will be dry and flexible boots, and curse when they're frozen stiff. Pack everything and time to brave the conditions. Packing everything into pulks (sledges) has to be done as fast as possible or your extremities freeze pretty rapidly.
9am and we set out into what we can only describe as a blank white canvas. Visibility is about 15-20m, there is no sense of up or down, left or right. This becomes more and more apparent over time. When walking with no horizon you simply don't even know if you're standing upright. Niall has mastered the art of using a GPS and tracks a very, very fast straight line. I discovered in the early hours that my GPS kept losing signal. This mixed with no land reference and my blurred vision meant walking in a straight line is a bit trickier than usual. However it turned out that it was my old friend the wind that was to come to my aid. By using my body as a weather vain I discovered that I could track on an impressive straight line. So much so that I spent my leading hours with my eyes closed. Partly because my eyes stung, partly because the goggles were steamed up, partly because I could focus better and think of burgers, chocolate and jacuzzis, but mainly because there was absolutely nothing else to see. But we still managed to bash out a 22.1km stint with over 200m altitude. Over 8hrs of constant walking. Much credit to Niall who led some shifts of over 3km per hour.
We are settled in for the night and ready for the next day. Our position is 66 07.951'N 40 32.559'W

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Staring up at us from our skis is a portrait of Roald Amundsen, the first man to the south pole and one of the world's finest polar explorers. I take great inspiration from this image as it encourage us to follow his example in our own adventures. Much to my amusement Amundsen bears a striking resemblance to Lenin whose example, it must be said, should not be followed.

We are snuggled into camp six at 20.4km from camp 5 after our best day on the ice to date. I wanted us each to lead 4x1hr shifts, totalling 8hrs of hauling, as had been the plan yesterday, and today we managed it. We stepped out of our tents to -10°C ambient temperatures and force 4 winds making for a challenging start. But once again the winds were on our tail aiding our progress enormously.

Every man should grow a beard at least once in his life, if testosterone levels allow for it, and every man who years for adventure should live one day to see ice falling on said beard. I have now lived that dream. Unfortunately i have had a stinking cold these past few days (must be chilly over here) so the ice in my moustache has taken on a ghastly green hue. Not quite as dignified as could be. My appearance continues to amuse Muzz. He and Pete found it most gratifying that i was able to assimilate myself into Eskimo society so easily. Having been spoken to in Italian in the Pizza Express at Hampton Court, in Arabic at the pyramids of Giza, Punjabi in the bazaars of Delhi and in Spanish (with a heavy Mexican accent) wherever I have travelled, I can now add east Greenlandic to the list of languages i have been mistakenly adressed in.

The sun came out briefly this afternoon and when it does it illuminates a million and one ice crystals that sparkle away before us. It is the most awe inspiring site.

The forecast for the next few days looks a little better than for the previous 2 and we will attempt another full 8hrs of hauling tomorrow with me cracking the whip. Rest assured that we are paying close attention to our tent and calorie routines which are running very smoothly. We are consuming around 4,500 calories per day all told, drinking 3.5L of fluids and getting a good number of hours in the sack. I am well aware how important it is to maintain a rigorous diet and rest program and how this is absolutely key to our ability to knock out some big miles. It's calm outside and its -3.5°C inside and it's time to hit the hay. Hasta luego from Niall the green bearded Eskimo.

Our position is 66°03.717'N 40°05.208'W and altitude 1673m.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Homing pigeons navigate using the earth's magnetic field. Little strings of iron molecules in their cells align with the magnetic waves enabling them to judge direction and distance. From the evidence of our natural predilections for turning left or right when hauling, I surmise that I am a left handed pigeon and Murray is a right handed pigeon. This morning started well and we were ready to go at 9am. Then we had a near disaster - last night Muzz forgot to put his socks into his sleeping bag so they had iced up this morning when he came to put them on. Each morning it takes about 45mins of walking for our boots to thaw out. So when Muzz put his frozen boots over his frozen socks he very quickly began to deteriorate. 15mins in front of the stove later and we were back in the game. Last night we camped within view of the two British chaps who had set out two days before us. Our intention had been to sneak up on their tent this morning and scare the living daylights out of them but we were met with a total whiteout and there was no way of finding their tent. The whiteout continued all day. It is an odd experience for a human, not having a horizon. It makes navigating a little more challenging too… were it not for GPS.
Today we were blessed with a strong tailwind. As a cyclist I have often heard tell of tail winds but have only ever experienced those directly in my face. I always assumed that these winds were punishment from God for not believing in Him (Her/It/Them) and that they were a great divine flatulence aimed directly in my direction. Today, thankfully, the wind was off our starboard stern quarter making navigation using the wind particularly easy, were it not for homing pigeon syndrome. I managed to override this syndrome early in the day but Muzz still found himself curving away at 45 degrees every few minutes until the wind was directly in his face. Then he stood there confused for a while until a quick GPS check confirmed his suspicions, he'd gone wrong again. We made good ground before lunch but Muzz's feet developed blisters on his blisters in the afternoon and we called it a day an hour earlier than planned. Still, having spoken to the MD of Expedition Greenland this morning it sounds like we're putting in more miles than most people manage to do at this stage as we steadily scale the parabolic icecap of Greenland. The daytime temperature stayed steady at -8C today, dipping to below -9C by the time we called it a day at 6pm. Muzz and I no longer refer to temperature as minus anything, it is simply 8 or 9 degrees. We had a steady 15-18knots of wind today so if someone could do the maths for a wind chill I'd be very grateful.
Now we're hunkered down and the wind is up at around 20 knots, gusting 25. We're in for a cold one tonight. I hope all is well with everyone at home and you are enjoying plotting our position on Google Earth. Morale here is high. We are enjoying the challenge and enjoying taking the mick out of each other. Muzz's socks are safely warming in his sleeping bag and we're about to tuck into some dehydrated dung. This is Niall (the left handed pigeon) signing out.
The position for day 5 is 65 59.639N 39 40.208W

Monday, 27 April 2009


It's 4am and I'm woken up again not by the gale force winds ready to blow away the tent with us in it, not by the -8C inside temperature, not by the frozen condensation falling on us but by the worst noise imaginable. It sounds like a polar bear, worse, Niall's overture of snoring and grunting. Amazing, especially as I have earplugs. Managed to get another couple of hours sleep, an extra one because Niall spazzed up setting the alarm on his £7.95 Argos supplied watch. Routine starting to kick in, tents and pulks packed in record time. Another corker of a day with sun and blue skies, T-shirts and shorts and an evolution of panda eye! After a chilly night the feet of powder that had hindered us the previous day had crystalised. We manage to crack out 18km in a straight line at 22km after detouring around millions of steep drifts otherwise known as sastrugi. Over 300m in altitude gained, woohoo! Rather than taking 4km shifts as leader we moved onto an hourly regime. I sense there may be a competition brewing as to who clocks up the most kilometres in an hour. Other than that the day went really well. Just about to pass a couple of guys who set off 2 to 3 days before us, making us the first to cross Greenland this year. To date this season two Greenland teams have been rescued, one due to frostbite and one due to mental breakdown. I just hope we don't run out of hot chocolate. To put this into perspective 25-30 take up the challenge of crossing Greenland each year compared with up to 500 who climb Everest.
Loving the sat phone messages.
Our position is 65 54.36'N 39 19.159'W

Sunday, 26 April 2009


It’s the end of our second full day, another one filled with toil and trouble but all good for training up our muscles and hurting our minds. I’ve had a quick check and it appears that neither of us have lost anything today, which is a bonus. And we’ve finally opened up a food bag with some hot chocolate, after two rogue bags the previous two days. Today was all about snow, we awoke to a complete whiteout, hauled into the wind and snow all day and toiled through drift after drift that sapped our energy. We only made 12.5kms today, us calling time on the day’s escapades for an early hot chocolate. But we’ve made some good height gains and are now perched high up on the icecap 1150m above sea level and our start point. The phrase water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink is as apt here as it was on the ocean, although I must confess to sneaking the occasional mouthful of snow, it’s just so satisfying! Apparently I continue to grunt in my sleep so Muzz was most grateful when I produced some earplugs from my bag of assorted trinkets. What he most wanted me to pull out was a kite (he’s still much aggrieved not to be kiting up here on the icecap), but earplugs were a close second. We’re hunkered down now till morning and aim to put in a few more hours on the oars tomorrow. Here’s hoping for rock hard snow and tail winds and another day without losing anything. Please keep the sat phone messages coming. Our love to all back in blighty.
Current position 65°50.453’N 38°59.714’W


Pulks harnessed on, climbing gear on - this is crevass country, i.e. big snow covered hole territory. Using maps and GPS references we start our attempt 15m from the start. Murray says “where’s the GPS?” Due to cliff issues a quick scurry down and back up is required. The next couple of hours are spent slowly weaving a path up and up. 8.30pm and time for camp. Tent up, snow wall built, brew on and asleep before even hitting the pillow; primarily due to the knowledge of what the following day would entail - an 800m, 18km slog.
Our first night position was 65°35.787’N 38°44.230’W.
The most stunning morning awaits, blue skies, sun and a really hard crispy crust to the snow - perfect for pulling sledges. We start slow but quickly pick up the pace, averaging a reasonable 3km per hour. All good until 12, when that beautiful sun was to curse us, the snow becoming soft and the pulks became sticky and digging in. By 12.30 Murray’s well judged combo of t-shirt and shorts was still not enough to keep cool. Leaking like sieves at 8km in, we sit on the pulks and literally chill out. After munching on a bag of peanuts we reluctantly return to the process of the pulling game. Walking beside one another I remark to Niall how the sleds feel much heavier after the break. Niall, however, stays silent, which I pass off as him thinking I’m a wuss. Then I look behind us and I notice that Niall has inadvertently left the pulks 100m behind us. A 1/1 draw in the lost stakes! 700m up and all limbs are aching, straining and cramping. We decide on a halt at 750m altitude. However the last kilometre would prove to be the hardest – very steep and very mogly. It requires every morsel of energy to reach our goal. Normal strides are not an option. An inch by inch approach is required. Every couple of metres the sleds are grinding to a halt which only a full lean forward so your face is only inches off the ground will cure , allowing a couple of inches forward motion. It can only be compared with having a tug of war competition with your local rugby team, none of whom are on your team. We reach our goal and the sense of achievement is outweighed by our need to recoup. After rapidly erecting the tent and getting a brew on the temperature drops to -20°C and snow and wind kicks in. We have 8km and 15m altitude until we reach the cap of the icecap and this should flatten up somewhat, allowing us to put in some 12 hour walking days and clock up some of our 350 required miles. Let’s hope the weather holds.
Getting some wicked messages through from you guys and it makes a fantastic difference to morale. Hope you’re all well and we’ll update ASAP. If you’re tracking us on Google Earth our current position is :
65°44.667’N 38°53.942’W.

Saturday, 25 April 2009


Many long days in the sleepy sheltered and rather backwards town of Tasiilaq, including 3 or 4 days perfecting our towing and cross country skiing techniques. The last couple of days consisting or packing and repacking with a little visit to the one and only local bar. Whilst Niall plays some game consisting of throwing dice and not knowing the rules with the younger and prettier patrons of the establishment, I get talking to a weathered (in both senses of the word) yet charming lady called Emily who, in broken English, offers us a place to stay and a fresh meal the following evening. Offer taken, we head back to our sauna sized hot hut for a cheeky educational game of scrabble.
On Thursday 23rd, after a bon voyage to Birdy, we get the call which we had much anticipated. Game on! It's 4pm and the sun shines brightly over the heliport. We lug our full pulks onto the scales at the check in. "Aih, aih, aih, wow !" exclaims the shocked check in girl at the total of 170kg.  The bulk of this weight caused by my two tee shirts, one pair of underwear and extortionate amounts of freeze dried food and fuel. Approximately 1.5kg of food per person per day. We load up the helicopter and after a brief consultation with the pilot, giving him our GPS coordinates, we hear the unmistakable sounds of the engines igniting. Moments later we're cruising and weaving only a couple of hundred feet above the iceberg riddled eastern coastline, the snow covered fjords rising high above us. Both of us are in awe at the sheer barren landscape. The helo circles, trying to find an appropriate landing spot. As we drop lower the fjords rise higher and the glacier acting as our doorway to the icecap becomes more obvious. As soon as the helicopter leaves a faint ringing and eerie silence presents itself.  We are truly all alone!

Our position is N65' 37.5  W38' 39.5

N.B. Niall and Murray are using the sat phone to call my voicemail and dictate their blogs. Unfortunately the rest of this message was inaudible, but they will attempt to leave it again tonight so check back tomorrow for more.


Friday, 24 April 2009


Pete arrived back in the UK yesterday after a successful week of training with Niall and Murray in Tasiilaq on the east coast of Greenland. The boys were slightly delayed in getting their helicopter out onto the icecap because a member of a large team that had already begun their traverse had an emotional breakdown and refused to leave his tent and his team were forced to evacuate. So the small airport was a bit too busy to get our lovely monkeys out on schedule. None of the teams have successfully completed the traverse this season and a number of evacuations and rescues have already taken place. This is down to any number of things - colder than usual temperatures, people not being able to cope with the extreme environment and sometimes simply down to people being ill prepared. Given their new kit, mental resiliance and excellent training I have every expectation that Niall and Murray will buck this trend and make it across in good time and come out the other end the smiling fruit and nuts we know and love.
After all of the drama with the other team Niall and Murray eventually made it out yesterday afternoon and managed to fit in 2hrs skiing, covering 6km, before pitching camp for the night. They called me at 1am (I think the cold had already made them have a time difference brain malfunction) last night to say things were great, at least that's what I think they said - the connction was so bad I could barely make out a word. I was expecting a call this morning with a full update but they're clearly having problems picking up a signal on the sat phone. By about 3pm I was getting slightly anxious so I called Matt at Expedition Greenland who informed me they'd left a message this morning with their position and that all was well. Minor panic over.
And while EPIC Greenland has been kicking off I have been consoling myself over not being out on the ice by starting to look for a boat for EPIC Tasman, and this week I think I found the perfect one. When I called Tara to tell her the news she was like a kid in a candy store. So she and I are about to launch headfirst into ocean rowing expedition madness - chasing up sponsors, calling in favours and begging, borrowing and stealing everything we need to get ourselves and the rest of the team to the start line next January. We are eternally optomisitic that this will happen but are quite reliant on sponsorship and grants so the candy store kids are having to keep one foot firmly in their boxes and remember that we might not be able to pull this around in 7 months and may have to postpone until 2011. It's been a very difficult time for many expedition teams lately. The current economic climate is making us all feel like Indiana Jone chasing after his unreachable holy sponsorship grail.
And some icing on the cake (yes a sweet treat themed blog today) was Ed D suggesting we all do an ultramarathon later this year. Ed J has already done one so I'll leave them, and anyone else on the team mad enough to torture themselves, to their little bit of lunacy. In my mind this fits into the same bag that ocean rowing fits into for most of our readers - the absolutely stark raving bonkers loony nut house bag. But then we wouldn't be able to live up to our motto of venturing where few dare if that weren't the case.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Murray and Ed received this wonderful message today from a lady in Brazil. We thought wed share it with you.

I'm here to say how the last week have changed
my mind and my way to see how my life is.
One hour ago I was in front of the sea (Atlantic Ocean) with my best friend Aline, crying and bored about life.
This time was different. I just dicided to chance my life 'cause I'm a 33 years old girl who reached my goal in life.
When I was a kid my dream was to become an architect. I made my dream come true 2 years ago but everything
continues boring. I suddenly noticed that life is nothing but a cycle, where people born, graduate, get in to a
relationship, have kids, go to work and do it over and over again.
Seriously: I don't want this kind of life to me!
And last week I saw 2 things on TV (I usually turn the Tv on just to sleep with the sound from the machine...).
One: I was watching "Whales War", where a group of people fight to save whales lives. On this TV show a guy
said something like that: "There's 6.5 billion people in the world, and only 37 people are in the middle of
nowhere to fight for this". It was a strong and touched me! Two: Last week I just saw the last episode of
Last Man Standing on Discovery Channel. I was amazed about the places, the goals, the determination of you guys.
In the past, few years ago, I used to think: "I prefer stay at home watching TV instead of climbing a frozen
mountain and feeling cold. *WTF* these guys are doing??? Get a life!"
Yesterday I was on the internet and looking for videos of you on LMS, I've found (I don't know how!) the and I saw about the challenges, about the bio of everyone of you and I felt happy 'cause
you guys still on this type of life, looking for challenges and looking for make difference in this boring life.
There's a Pete's quote: "One day I hope I'll be able to retire peacefully and look back and think I did something with my life".
Now I changed my point of view. Completelly! Life is not all about have a great job, children, a wife/husband,
have a dog and die. This is not life. Not to me.
I feel inside of me something huge, something beautiful and this kind of life I'm living it's not the life I wanted.
I wanna do (I WANT TO DO!) something huge, something beautiful. I WANT TO MAKE DIFFERENCE IN MY LIFE ALSO!
I can't continue living this life of cycle. Life is not only writing a book, have a son and plant a tree. We need a reason to live or die for.
I wanna see the world from the top!
See you guys on TV doing the most incredible things and now continuing with the challenges is amazing...
I'm jealous of you! In a good way of course. I wish I could be like you and make the difference. Not be like
everybody else. I don't want to be an ordinary person. But I am one now.
And tonight, next to my best friend, she said: "You changed my life 'cause you gave me help when I most
needed". And I said: "That's great. But it's time to change MY LIFE now. Enough. Today is the first day of the rest of my life".
And now I'm here, writting this long letter, just to say "thanks"!
Inspired by the attitude of you guys I decided to break that cycle of my life and do something to live (or die) for.
I don't know exactly what  to do but I realized something: this city is too small for me!
I hope in the end of this year I'll be able to go to another country to build houses to poor pleople, to save
animals lives, to climb a frozenmountain... whatever! Maybe in Afrika, in London, in USA, in Australia...
I don't care! I am an open-minded person and I need goals in my life. I NEED. I only ask to God an opportunity
to initiate this change. Maybe this opportunity was see you guys in action, and read about Tara's, Niall's, Margaret's,
Pete's and Ed's lives. This kind of thing inspires me!
And Edward: you are the most incredible person in this world! Your determination is brilliant and very inspiring!
I definitely want to be someone like you, who make the challenges a reason to life worth it!
Thank you guys (one more time) and good look to the whole team. I wish the best every momment of this adventure.
I'm following you on Twitter. I look forward to see the triumph of you!

God bless you guys and take (a lot of) care!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


After a couple of days radio silence the boys have just called. The training has been difficult because it has been about 5°C most days which is too hot to replicate the icecap environment and properly test out their gear. With one of our friends recently having to call in an evacuation due to frostbite and a very cold start to the season out on the ice they would have liked lower temperatures to train in. Pete said it has been wet and soggy, which is far from ideal - you want it dry and crisp. The other problem is that it has been overcast the whole time and they have not managed to charge up any of their electrical equipment with the solar panel. They have also been having problems getting our email account set up on the rugged PC. So given the lack of power and difficulty with email they have made the decision not to take the PC and won't be writing their own blogs. Instead they will call me daily with an update and I will fill you all in. They are taking a spare battery for the sat phone and we hope the sun shows it's face at some point so that they can keep the phone charged enough to also call friends and family occasionally.
Pete is returning home in a couple of days and will bring photos and videos from the training week back with him so we'll post them over the weekend. Keep leaving your messages of support on the homepage. I will pass them onto the boys when we speak.


All's well here, we've had a great few days and are ready to head off tomorrow, though it actually looks as though we'll be delayed a day... we'll have to see come morning. We're ready and raring, kit packed etc, can't wait now.

Thursday, 16 April 2009


Just a quicky, to say that me and some random I picked up from the rainforests of Guyana have ended up getting grounded in Iceland due to bad weather, on our way to traverse the Greenland Icecap. I can pretty much garentee that things are going to get alot worse, primarily cause i dont have the BBC to organise my ass.


Murray Niall and Pete are still in Iceland - the weather in Kulusuk was too bad to fly today from Reykjavik.
The first scrabble took place during the delay at the airport, which established Niall as a narrow champion, and Murray as a good ´vocational studies´ far.
So we spent the day preparing for the adventure ahead by heading to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa - silica mud (´spunk´) was liberally applied to faces, and an invigorating exfoliation was had by all.
Here´s hoping the weather is better tomorrow for our hop to Kulusuk, and the ongoing helicopter flight to the expedition base at Tasiilaq.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

kit familiarisation with Alan Chambers

Originally uploaded by wherefewdare
Pete returned from Afghanistan on Sunday and headed straight back to Bristol for a team meeting with Alan Chambers to go through kit familiarisation and to check the tents. Check out the photos on the homepage to see what the team got up to.