That man Leo Houlding has been at it again! During his latest project the climber and adventurer has completed an unsupported 1,000 mile snowkiting expedition across the Greenland ice cap. Houlding was accompanied by friend and experienced snowkiter Bruce Corrie, and they covered the distance in under three weeks, despite being confined to their tent for days in a row during whiteout conditions. This was Leo Houlding’s debut snowkiting expedition and Bruce Corrie’s first major expedition of any type.
Leo Houlding and Bruce Corrie snowkited from Kangerlussuaq in south west Greenland and finished in Qaanaaq, one of the most northerly towns on Earth. They completed the distance in 18 days, battling difficult weather conditions and challenging terrain, and each towing 135kg loads. On several days, they were unable to leave the tent because of whiteout snowstorms or could not make progress due to a lack of wind. When Houlding and Corrie did get moving, they also had to deal with obstacles such as sastrugi, wave-like ridges of up to a metre in height on the surface of the snow that both added to the technical difficulty of the snowkiting and also pounded their knees. Despite all of this, Houlding and Corrie covered an average of 55 miles a day.
Houlding and Corrie used the latest snowkiting equipment during their expedition, along with cold weather clothing by Berghaus that had been designed for the coldest condition on the planet and previously field tested in Greenland. They were able to send back brief updates from Greenland and people from around the world followed their progress via a GPS tracker and social media.
Speaking to Berghaus from Qaanaaq, Leo Houlding said: “This was my first long distance polar expedition and a great learning experience. It was more challenging than I expected partly due to untypical weather depositing lots of snow, terrible visibility and strange wind patterns, but also because snowkiting is much more technically difficult than you may imagine. Thankfully, Bruce was on hand with vast kiting experience and together with my expedition pedigree we made a good team. Although we had some tough conditions, the last day was epic – 110 miles of high speed kiting on great terrain in the sun and then a six hour descent on foot from the ice cap to the fjord was for both of us our best day of kiting ever.”
The full day-by-day story of the expedition can be seen at a dedicated page on the Berghaus website