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From L-R: Ross Hewitt, Michelle Blaydon, Tom Grant and Marcus Waring A team of ski mountaineers has returned from the Arctic Circle after a very fruitful month long expedition. Berghaus athletes Michelle Blaydon and Ross Hewitt teamed up with British ski mountaineer Tom Grant and Canadian Marcus Waring for the adventure on Baffin Island’s remote fjords. The team skied 26 lines, including some of the most spectacular on the planet, making theirs the most successful ever expedition of its type to the area.
During the self-supported expedition, the four skiers were tested to their limits in temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius. They hauled 100kg each from location to location and every team member lost over a stone in weight, even with a high calorie intake and High5 sports nutrition. As well as seeking out attractive lines to ski, they also had to be on guard for polar bears at all times, and put in place home-made early warning measures at camp as part of their daily regime.
However, Blaydon, Hewitt, Grant and Waring achieved their objectives of skiing some of the most dramatic steep couloirs in the world. Hewitt, Grant and Waring succeeded in repeating the classic Polar Star couloir on the Beluga Spire, which at 1,500m is one of the biggest cliffs on the planet.
Ross Hewitt comments:
“Then Marcus, Tom and I skied a further 13 lines in Sam Ford and Walker Arm. Of these, 10 were repeats of established classics, one 1,400m clean line off the rock bastion of Walker Citadel is unknown to have been skied, and one line on Fjord Wall may not have been skied. We also skied a south facing line on the spectacular buttress of spires next to Great Cross Peak, from a step at the 1,000m mark.”
Michelle Blaydon comments:
“The expedition was a little complicated in that we didn’t have any support once we were on the ice. This meant that we had to carry all equipment and supplies as we wanted to explore and have the freedom to get to different areas of the fjords. This equipment amounted to over 100kg in weight each that we hauled on two plastic sledges tied together. Luckily, we were able to use kites to help us travel across the ice in places. Kiting opened up a huge opportunity for us to travel huge distances in really short time which meant we could effortlessly explore potentially new lines and rarely visited areas of the fjords as well as easily transport camp in no time.
“After three weeks on the ice, and 120km of travel we reached Sam Ford Fjord area. I spent a few days here before it was my time to leave the boys who had decided to stay on longer to keep on skiing. The last few days I skied some classic lines in beautiful clear weather under the midnight sun. This was the hardest expedition I have ever done but also the most successful and memorable. After talking to the local Inuit hunters about how quickly climate change is affecting ice melt, I can’t be more appreciative that I have experienced such a unique and inspiring adventure.”
During the expedition, the team put the latest Berghaus cold weather kit to the test, as well as prototypes being developed for future collections. Both Blaydon and Hewitt have been working closely with the product teams behind the brand’s most technical ranges of clothing, footwear and equipment. Their feedback from Baffin Island will help Berghaus refine product designs for forthcoming seasons.
Ross Hewitt adds:
To find out more about the expedition, read Michelle Blaydon’s blog on the Berghaus website, keep an eye on the Berghaus Facebook page for more reports from the trip, or follow @TheRealBerghaus on Twitter. To read more about the Berghaus team of sponsored athletes, visit the brand’s website.
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