Greenland Ice Cap


© Keith Parsons - credit: Keith Parsons

Crossing Greenland

The Greenland ice cap is the second largest ice sheet in the world and was first crossed in 1888 by the legendary polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen.

The Trust’s expedition honoured the 130th anniversary of the first crossing with the team taking 28 days to ski across the ice cap dragging 60kg sledges behind them.

They faced unseasonable conditions including large snow falls, extreme winds and sickness. The team was one of only a handful of expeditions to make it across the ice cap successfully that season.

Nobel prize winner Nansen went on to pioneer important polar equipment, which revolutionised long distance polar travel. The Trust has conserved items including Nansen sledges and Nansen cookers in the early explorers bases that the Trust cares for in Antarctica.

The Trust’s short film about the expedition In Nansen’s Footsteps premiered at the New York Explorers Club Polar Film Festival and was a finalist at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival.

2018 Expedition – Greenland Ice Cap Ski Traverse

New Zealanders Brando Yelavich (24) and Hollie Woodhouse (34), and Australians Bridget Kruger (30) and Keith Parsons (27), joined our Executive Director Nigel Watson and Borge Ousland Polar Exploration Master Polar Guide Bengt Rotmo in a successful crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap in May 2018.

After receiving nearly 200 applications, we had the difficult task of selecting just four young explorers from a very high calibre of applicants. We were thrilled with the team we selected for this once in a lifetime expedition.

This was New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust’s third Inspiring Explorers Expedition™. The team skied across the second largest body of ice in the world over a month, dragging 60 kilogramme sleds behind them for more than 560 kilometres.

We were also thrilled to have Kathmandu on board as an expedition sponsor. We road-tested some of their new XT Series, which has been specifically developed for extreme environments.

Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson says this was the Trust’s longest and most challenging Inspiring Explorers Expedition™ yet.

“Part of the Trust’s mission is to encourage the spirit of exploration. This expedition celebrated the 130th anniversary of one of the world’s great polar exploration stories – Nansen’s crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap in 1888, the first time the feat was accomplished. Nansen’s experience and his pioneering polar equipment revolutionised long distance polar travel. The Trust has conserved items including Nansen sledges and Nansen cookers in the early explorers’ huts that we care for in Antarctica, tangible examples of Nansen’s influence on the likes of Scott and Shackleton.”

Meet the 2018 Inspiring Explorers™

Get to know the team who crossed the Greenland Ice Cap.