Greenland Epilogue

Well, as they say – that’s a wrap. We are safely across Greenland, in the small town of Tasiilaq, having completed the most incredible adventure!

This land of 55k people don’t just survive, but actually thrive, in a harsh, desolate, unparalleled beautiful environment. Salo was telling us about narwhal (a medium sized whale) fishing, in the traditional way (as is the norm here) in a kayak. He had spent the morning with patience, silently hunting the narwhal. When he finally spied it, he drew back and threw his spear piercing the animal. Unfortunately, somehow the rope was tangled and still attached to his kayak. The narwhal dove deep into the ocean taking Salo and his kayak with him. The rope broke releasing Salo – who saw some bubbles and light and kicked up to it, barely conscious.  His family were in kayaks behind him and were able to drag him out of the water. His kayak popped up, undamaged and he went right back to the task at hand and caught that narwhal later that same day. And that exemplifies life in Greenland. It is about being one with the land, the weather, and the environment, accepting your part in it with patience and resilience, and taking it as it comes. Something I will try to take with me from this trip.

We do these testyourlimits trips to remember the possible. Please register to be a donor ( – transplantation is an unparalleled opportunity for those dying from organ failure. I keep Matt Antolin in my thoughts each trip – young Matt wanted to do a TYL adventure but died from heart failure while waiting for a heart transplant.

By far, Dale and I agree this 8th TYL trip was the toughest ever, from 100mph winds, -35 temperatures, zero visibility, blizzard conditions and long ski days – teamwork prevailed as is often the case in life. As always, I can’t thank my team back home enough for making it possible for me to do these trips. As transplant ambassadors go, there can be no finer example than Dale – almost 20 years post heart transplant, and continually scheming about the future…..
Where will TYL go next? I don’t know, but I can say that it feels to me like we are just starting to gain momentum…….mmmmmm…….

T-1, A tale from Land of the Green

It was a long day in a snowstorm with zero contrast so we went a little mental.

In a place far far away, King Eric, Knight Taylor, the Merrimen (Dale, Ian, John) and the Fair Maiden (I know I should be the bard, but I’ve always wanted to be a fair maiden, and I drew the line at buxom) were trying to join an exclusive club of Greenland crossers.

Coldsnowwind, the God of Land of the Green (BTW Eric the Red, Viking, called it Greenland to make it sound attractive (truth) – though the only green thing I’ve seen to date is Dale’s pack) was uncertain as to the company’s worthiness and decided to create some final challenges.

The first was a blizzard at break of camp, with zero visibility and heavy snow. The troupe kept the dogs and handlers close in case they needed sustenance and armaments. The first push saw success.

The God then put an uphill in the descent with deep deep powder, and again the company proved worthy.

At the third push the God turned the snow into taffy – wet, sticking, grabbing and clawing at the skis. There was much stomping and swearing but the third push was achieved.

At the break Knight Taylor found magic wax allowing a return to the slide and glide elegance that the troupe’s ski style was known for. The God got angry and sent freezing rain during the 4th push but the team prevailed. Verily the God tired of the challenge and thought perhaps this team may be worthy. Eric then led the team successfully over the required distance to camp!

Thus ends the legend of T-1, Land of the Green.


As Aretha said: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Today brought the sunrise in around 430 am. Helped dry us out, magical as there was so much dampness, our sleeping bags end up like popsicles after sitting on the sled in freezing temps for the whole day. Usual brekkkie and out we went. 6 pushes (each push typically 1.5 hr long ski with 10 min break to eat and drink). Overall 35 k skied, now 21 days on the ice….. but most importantly we can now move to the countdown – we are 42 km to target!!!! Altitude 5150 feet.

I had a chance to lead today (bloody awesome) wearing the chest harness and compass. All I had to do was keep the needle ‘in the house’ so we could move directly east, in a straight line. There was some visibility so Tay said look into the distance and find a mark and move to it, making minor adjustments as needed to keep the needle on target. Well, I never, (as granny would say), so piece of cake right? Except….the land is covered with sastrugi (snow formations created by the wind), there’s deep powder, apparently I have a tendency to go left (likely because of my political views), all in all there’s no doubt I added an extra km to the day.

Holy moly RESPECT for these guides who make it look so easy! And to top it all off Taylor made chicken nuggets and fries! First non-freeze dried food in 21 days!! Nirvana


Snow cubed redux

Skied 33 km for a net of 31.5km. Altitude 6050 ft. 12 inches of snow overnight. Thigh deep when not on skis, 6-12 inches deep on skis. Tough lead work breaking trail (Eric and Tay). Thanks for that!!

Weather was the same to start, like skiing through a giant marshmallow miasma (yes I wrote that). In fact only Benjamin Moore has more shades of white than Greenland. We saw them all today. The irony was not lost on me when the Beach Boys came up on my iPod random shuffle. Little deuce coupe, really??

In any case the weather cleared around noon and we had a few hours of sun. Then it closed off again as we finished our 6th push of skiing.

Camp is set. Everyone pretty shattered. Same again tomorrow.


Snow cubed!!!

27.5 km skied, 26 km closer to destination (see below), 6664 ft elevation. -10 and windchill.

We had huge snow drifts, big headwind blowing snow, and snow fall = snow cubed. The only tether to planet earth, allowing us to separate up from down, was gravity (thanks Sir Isaac). A complete whitewashed pallet with our jackets providing the only slashes of color.

If I had been leading we would have wandered around in circles (always hard for me to relinquish control…). The guides used a chest mount compass to try to keep direction on target, hence the 1.5 km difference between total skied and our goal. Remarkable really as I had no idea where we were going the entire day. Unfortunately same weather expected tomorrow.


Go team!!!

We did 37 km today. Glorious start to the day and a miserable finish weather wise. Altitude 7054. Everyone’s working hard to make up our mileage, given our early delays. Tough strong work.

Taylor, guide, 23, incredibly accomplished, comes from a formidable pedigree, his dad Rick founded Polar Explorers. He’s a machine on skis and also plays a mean game of hearts. He plans to do an 80d canoe trip in the NWT!!

Eric, lead guide and my tentmate, 30, comes from Illinois, and rose through the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America. He’s 6’8” which means I have to ski twice as much to keep up, bugger. He has been remarkably innovative and agile on this trip, calculating food and fuel, distance, and plans b, c, d when plan a hasn’t worked. They are a dynamic duo to be sure.

John, our Kiwi, is a retired ranch owner, 67. He has accomplished an amazing amount, including 7 summits, with Everest in ‘93. He’s a numbers man, a walking calculator.

Ian, 54, is a consultant from UK, whisky connoisseur, also a seven summit, North and South Pole kinda guy. The crazy bit is he’s already done Greenland and came back to do it a second time?!? Incredible dry wit. He was with us at the South Pole and has TYL status!

Dale is doing what he does best. Getting the job done. 19 years post heart transplant and my testyourlimits partner in crime!


Uphill both ways

I kid you not. S’truth, honest…..well ok I get that it’s impossible but it sure looks and feels that way!

We did just under 38 km. 7678 feet elevation. -10 Celsius. Everything- snow, whiteout, sun, headwind. But a brilliant result.

Camp life is a 615 am start. Granola for brekkie. Melting snow for the day’s fluid. Out of tent at 8 am. Take it down, pack the sleds and start skiing around 830 am.

Once we’re done we do it in reverse. Put up the tent, hot drink, boil lots of water for drinking and food, eat dinner and crawl into your bag and crash. But this is a 5-star tent resort and I get 2, count em, 2 hot water bottles for my sleeping bag every night.

A ‘throne’ and its surrounding wall is dug out each evening, not so much for privacy (we got past that around day 3), but to provide a wind barrier. No one wishes to frostbite their nether-regions!!

Really cold day expected tomorrow. About -25.


Wild ride!

We did approx 32 km, up and over 8200 feet – the top of the glacier – and down a bit on the other side to 8050 feet. The conditions were appalling – snow, poor visibility, headwind. Pretty much the worst ever. Taylor was a machine and led every push at pace. Gruelling.

And then an ephemeral moment. The celts call it ‘a thin place’, when the space between heaven and earth narrows so much that it becomes translucent, transparent, ‘thin’. I’ve had rare moments like this in my life.

Today the sky cleared, the sun broke through upon us. I was ‘waterskiing’ on my skis behind the dog sled with Dale beside me. We were cooking! The other sled with their 15 dogs came alongside.  In that snapshot of time, that pure moment, I was completely overwhelmed. What a ride!

The dogs are each on an independent line which is different than back home. They do it for dog safety. They frequently cross ice with a real risk of breaking through.

Don’t forget to visit our MapShare page if you’d like to connect with team. We’d love to hear from you!


Much rest needed

We had a layover due to bad weather again (snow and high wind, zero visibility). Timing was ideal for a much needed rest, addressing polar hack (cough due to dry cold air), mild cold injury and muscle fatigue.

Comfortably in my sleeping bag, enjoying a quesadilla and using my hot drink mug as a plate. Do what you gotta do!

Did some arts and crafts – well Dale and Ian did, under Taylor’s quality control and my sarcasm, helping reinforce a shield down from the goggles to protect our faces from wind/cold (sewing and duct tape involved).

Continue reading “Much rest needed”