PENNY ICE CAP EXPEDITION – PRESS RELEASE On Wednesday 11th May, Vijay Shah with team mates Antony Jinman and Duncan Eadie returned to the UK following a polar expedition on Baffin Island. They have become the first British team to ski unassisted across the remote Penny Ice Cap and have explored a new access route.
The project covered over 250km on skis, starting and ending at sea level but rising to 1940 metres at its highest point. Throughout the 18 day expedition, the team endured air temperatures of below - 25°C, blizzards and 70kmph winds. At times, this challenging arctic environment also meant the team had to ski and drag their 50kg pulks over extremely thin ice, the dangers of which are highlighted when Duncan fell straight through into the ocean on the way to Pangnirtung (Inuit Community), their final destination. Vijay said “Once Duncan had dragged himself out of the ocean, the team needs to keep moving and move quickly to stop him from freezing.” Skiing over new terrain also offered it’s challenges, “We never knew what was around the corner, or even if there was a corner!” Self-doubt also played its part and asked its own questions: “Did we have enough food? What if the weather closes in on difficult terrain?” This self-questioning is justified as at times the team were probably over 100km from any other person.
However, this extreme environment also offers spectacular rewards; the mountain passes made for extraordinary scenery as the team traversed this landscape documenting the changes taking place due to climate change, in photography and film. The team were also lucky enough to see some of the Arctic’s most documented wildlife in their natural habitat, including Polar Bears and cubs, Arctic Hare, Ptarmigans and Seals.
Schools have been tracking their progress via the Education Through Expeditions website (www.etelive.org), where teachers and students have been posting questions on the online discussion boards to learn about the Arctic, the Inuit people and the effects of climate change. “Using our satellite phones we could even answer specific questions about the expedition from the school children directly.” Vijay said. “Overall we worked incredibly well in our team – absolutely essential for survival – in order to successfully complete the expedition.”