First Descents and Climate Change in Greenland

Mj 618_348_first descents and climate change in greenland
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On March 30, a team of five women set sail from Isafjorour, Iceland to the southern tip of Greenland. From there, they'll begin a first-of-its-kind expedition – which they call Shifting Ice and Changing Tides – that merges exploration and conservation. The team is out to bag first descents in the rugged, remote peaks along Greenland's west coast – terrain no one has skied before – while collecting valuable data for Adventures and Scientists for Conservation.

"The snow and ice samples they collect will help scientists study the connections between organic pollutants, climate change, and sea ice extent, as well as better understand the distribution of harmful microplastic particles in the world's oceans," says Adventures and Scientists for Conservation founder Gregg Treinish.

In the spirit of conservation, the expedition is entirely human-powered. They are sailing aboard a 63-foot schooner named La Louise, and will climb every peak they ski. "For all of us, this is about making a personal connection between skiing and climate change," says expedition member Meghan Kelly, a teacher and civil engineer. "And so it's important, on many levels, that we keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.

Mj 390_294_alone across greenland

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Kelly says the group chose West Greenland because it's a place that's seeing some of the harshest effects of climate change. The spectacular (and disturbing) glacier calving scene in James Balog's 2012 documentary Chasing Ice took place at Jakobshavn Glacier in West Greenland.

"The ski movies don't go there because it's not super gnarly, like Alaska. It's more scenic couloirs," says Kelly. "But our trip is not about cherry picking off epic ski descents; it's more an exploration, an investigation."

At the time of writing, the women were sailing across the Denmark Straight, approaching Cape Farewell on the southern tip of Greenland. Follow their route in real time here.

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