Week 06 Leading Out

Date Posted: 3.29.2010
Location: 77º47'N 70º45'W Siorapaluk, Greenland
and 44º54'N 92º47'W Expedition Basecamp, Minnesota, USA
Weather Conditions: Cloudy, 23°F (-5°C) and Sunny, 44°F (6°C)
Friday morning Christine set out from Thule Air Base with helicopter to fly over glaciers and icebergs to make landing in Siorapaluk—the northernmost community in the world! A day earlier she lead out ahead of the rest of the team, and was the first to arrive in Greenland. The rest of us are still stuck back here in the United States awaiting the final permission for the Polar Huskies to travel to Greenland, so it is on Christine to explore Kalaallit Nunaat now!


Christine arrives in the US from Canada where she is from – Tim picks her up to ‘swing by’ Education Basecamp before she continues on to Greenland

Icebergs frozen into the sea ice outside of Siorapaluk  

Christine arrived to Expedition Basecamp from her native Canada a few days before landing in Siorapaluk. From autographing posters for the Zone winners to getting her package of community food, we needed to do some last-minute-coordinating such as handing Christine the gear to be used and shared with students in Greenland until the rest of us makes it into the land of iceberg, glaciers and the largest ice sheet in the northern hemisphere.


Watch Christine fly into Siroapaluk

Watch how icebergs are made as Christine films a glacier from the helicopter

         Mille in action
While this humongous ice sheet is upwards of 2 miles or 3 kilometers thick – it does have huge vertical cracks in it. In particular in the glacial areas close to the edge of the ice sheet where there is most movement, leading down to the land and ocean there are lots of crevasses as the cracks are called. When our team sets out up onto the ice sheet we must be prepared to encounter crevasses. Meeting up with esteemed mountaineer Pat Mackin to go over our plans for how we will handle if one of us falls into a crevasse when traveling on the ice sheet, we did lots of rope handling this week; “it might be scary to think about what can happen as we are going up the first part of the ice sheet – but we have trained and prepared and as a team we know how to back each other up,” says Mille.

Watch Andrea rope in Brant after setting up what is called a Z-pulley

Cicilie’s birthday party  
While we're back here are training for the worst-case scenario as we dogsled into the heart of Greenland with the Polar Huskies, Christine received the most heartfelt of welcomes in Siorapaluk. Within hours of her arrival, she was already invited for kaffemik at Qillutooq and Cicilie’s house to celebrate Cillie’s birthday: in Kalaallisut, the Greenlandic language ‘Kaffemik’ is the traditional name for a cozy gathering in Greenland with good eats and coffee! Kaffe means coffee in Danish adds Mille. Christine was treated to delicious Narwhale soup from a Narwhale hunted in the waters by the community, along with traditional bannock bread with raisins and of course, coffee!

  Listen to Christine’s adventures on her first day
  in Siorapaluk

         Kids and Christine in Siorapaluk!
 Watch the kids introduce themselves

A small community of 50-some people, no road connect to Siorapaluk and the one store is small, so the eight or nine kids that live in Siorapaluk have been hanging with Christine for much of the time since she arrived. They're are enjoying playing on the new computer she brought them and eating oranges! Together they have also already begun working on how the kids can best express what is important to them about their place and how things might be changing around them—not least as the climate is changing in Greenland. On that note, make sure to join this week’s chat with Lana Hansen from Greenland. She is the author of the new book Sila about a boy, a raven, and what climate change means when you live in Greenland! The chat about the connections between climate change, people and how it might affect our sense of place happens Wednesday, March 31st at 10 AM CT – Don’t miss it!

Drawing our Sense of Place

What is ‘sense of place’? Well a great example of sense of place was shared online this week by fifth graders at Cuyuna Range Elementary School. Their teacher Ms. Simmonds explained it perfectly we think: “The places and things my students chose to represent their sense of place ranged from their homes, to their grandparents, to pets, to the clay in their soil, to a favorite backyard tree. Everyone had special reasons for choosing what keeps them connected,” says Ms. Simmonds. Have you posted about your place to the Culture Zone?

  Listen to how Student Explorers made Coat of Arms
  –  and one for Tracker the Stuffed Polar Husky

         Polar Husky Superstar Disko

There is no doubt about what the Polar Huskies look for in a place after their mind: Lots of snow and ice so they can get pulling with all their might and roar! Few roar louder and more fiercely than Disko, this week’s first Polar Husky Superstar. While Disko is a lead dog, he is an exceptionally hard worker--not always the combination of a lead dog. That is when he is on the expedition trail! When running in training, Disko can be down-right lazy and a bit of a ding-dong. With more than 10,000 miles and nine high-Arctic expeditions under his paws, Disko knows the difference between when he is out for a training run… and when he is called upon to lead out his fellow Polar Huskies on an actual expedition; at which point few are more attentive and on the spot than him.

Watch Disko and Lightning leading out on
a training run around Expedition Basecamp

Polar Husky Superstar Lightning  

In the meantime, while the Polar Huskies are still around Expedition Basecamp in the United States Lightning is hard at work keeping Disko on the straight running down the trails. This week’s second Polar Husky Superstar, Lightning is a real sweetheart who wants to do right and please the best she can. A huge hunter at heart she loves action. Even when she was a little puppy, she would lead out her litter-mates (all brothers), chasing around the dog yard and beyond… Now she's a great lead dog. Soon-we hope- she will be leading out across Greenland’s Ice Sheet!