DarkSnow 17: Windsled Diary

June 1, 2017


At this moment, the Windsled is traversing the Greenland ice sheet with Snow Chemist Ross Edwards taking samples along the way.

Your donation to Dark Snow Project is helping support Ross’s travel and expenses, and will now help me get to Greenland later in July.


On the ice, Windsled innovator/explorer Ramon Larramendi is keeping a log:

June 1st 2017 : Latitude 70.25, Longitude -43.6, Altitude 2577 m ( 8044 ft), 75 km (47 mi)

Complicated day! The first of the expedition Ice River Greenland 2017, but fortunately without consequences. The first problem arose when trying a new system to hook the kite to the sled, at the time the 45 sq m (484 sq ft) one, so as to avoid any possibility of loss when releasing it as occurred last year. In the attempt it broke on us so we had to change to the 60 sq m (646 sq ft) one. This made progression difficult in such a manner that two people were necessary to handle the controls. To take turns, given the effort, four of the crew had to stay in the front end piloting module… Suddenly, the second incident occurred, which could have been more important. Ross manipulated one of the solar panel batteries in the rear tent of the convoy when an electrical overload occurred that caused a mini-fire which filled the space up with smoke. He smothered it immediately with snow but it was a scare given the flammable material around.


After these incidents, the wind rolled east direction and we had to stop. In any case, in six days we have already covered half of the route, more than 400 kilometers (249 mi) to our first destination, the ice current. According to Hilo’s GPS we were half way so a stop was necessary . In addition, it coincides with one of the locations in which Ross must perform another drilling in the snow, which is exactly what he is doing while we communicate with you via satellite. He is dressed up in his sterilized suit, his mask … and he does not allow anyone approaching him to avoid contamination.

So while he focuses on science, Hilo sews the kite hole and the rest go on to review the platform, prepare water and run about our tasks! Our Greenlander, J. J., has built a bathroom with blocks of ice, which is great, as an annex to the sled. It is absolutely sustainable, because when we leave it will disappear…

The good news is that we have managed to send a small photo of our WindSled with all the technology installed. Since communications are not good, that task has taken a lot of time, even if you do not think so.

On the side, the GPR functions perfectly, something that the teams using the results (Antonio Quesada, Javier Lapazaran, Jason Box), are happy to know. The device has been collecting data from snow down to 20 meters (65 ft), for many miles. The weather station and the microorganism collector are also still active, which is what you see in the back of the image.

For the moment, here we are. Until a south wind drives us north! By the way, the anecdote is that during the last two days a seagull has followed us. It passes us, lies on the convoy to rest… The only life form we see around us.

May 30th 2017 : Latitude 69.58, Longitude -43.6, Altitude 2452 m ( 8044 ft), 86 km ( 51 mi)

Yesterday passed quietly. We are going at a measured speed of 11 km (7 mi) / hour, perfect to have a quiet life on board, which we hope will last. In fact, at the moment we are not doing complementary shifts because the current pace allows us to stop to sleep, which is greatly appreciated. Ross made another drilling in the snow yesterday, although he did not spend so much time. But yes, he dressed in his immaculate white suit, with mask … and returned to take out some snow samples, of which we are already carrying around 20 kilos (44 lbs), well stored in special containers so as not to melt.

The truth is that thanks to Ross we are all having an accelerated master’s degree on the latest Arctic and Antarctic related to climate change. As a polar climatologist (he has participated in numerous campaigns at the Australian Antarctica base), he knows the details of the different theories, hypotheses and methods. Let’s start taking notes! In short, a luxury.

The food, however, does not take long to make. J.J. and Nacho are currently the star chefs, the latter because he made Danish sausages and the former because of some really unforgettable Bolognese spaghetti. Most of the time though, we settle for some sausages, being much less laborious.

We are already close to the ice summit we arrived in last year, but not scheduled to pass by the scientific station Summit Camp, which we will see in the distance. If the wind continues this way, we are going to be at the Ice River much sooner than we expected!

May 28th 2017 :  Latitude 67.83, Longitude -46.42, Altitude 1,923 m (6,309 ft), 54 km (33.5 mi)

We are still going at a good pace. The ice looks like a skating rink. Smooth and hard. Perfect. Yesterday, we finally stopped for a few hours to rest. We have not yet caught the rhythm of the shifts, but we are working on it. Two teams are going to take turns: in one Ramon and J. J., in the other, Hilo, Ross and Nacho, which requires that some get used to sleeping by day and others by night. Yesterday we began with a strong southeast wind, the best by our standards, and we progressed with a 30-square-meter (323 sq ft) kite dragging our 2,000 kilos (4,400 lbs) of weight uphill, to almost 2,000 meters (6,561 ft) of altitude. We reached 13 km (8 mi) / hour, too fast…Then we changed to the 60 square meter (646 sq ft) one, very hard to handle, until the wind lessened, and finally we returned to the 80 sq m (861 sq ft) kite and the speed stabilized at 7 km (4.3 mi) / hour. Slowly but surely.

We go so calmly and with so much control that we have even begun to cook food while on the go! That’s the kind of stability we have on board. The only difficulty we are encountering is the GPR. It requires so much power that we can’t get it to work as expected. Ross is working on obtaining the data planned by Francisco Navarro’s team.

The temperature is still good. By day, with a radiant sun and a lot of heat, and by night low, lower as we ascend. Last night minus 12 º C (10 º F). Also at night is when the wind gets stronger, so let’s take advantage of it.

Otherwise, we are getting into the routine. Enjoying the navigation.

No trace of life around us, with that sensation of being the only inhabitants on the ice…




4 Responses to “DarkSnow 17: Windsled Diary”

  1. vierotchka Says:

    What an adventure!

  2. What is the GPR? (Apologies in advance if it’s obvious)

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