Ben Saunders

Bens1"We started the day with an enormous climb. Ten minutes after we’d
set off, the incline of the glacier we’re on changed from flat to
slightly uphill. Ten minutes further on, we were struggling up a
surface so steep that (if it weren’t for the fact we were actually
doing it) I’d have said it was impossible to drag sledges heavier than
we are up it on skis. We climbed 500 feet in 45 minutes. ‘I’ve never
done that before’, I said to Tony as we rested briefly, slumped in our
sledge harnesses, at the top.

A little later on, we had to
contend with something else I hadn’t tried before; skiing downhill with
heavy sledges (I’ve spent nearly two percent of my entire life on skis,
dragging sledges, but the Arctic Ocean doesn’t really have any long,
smooth slopes.)

We sat at the top of the slope, chewing on
energy bars and weighing up the options. As we saw it, there were
three. One, to ski down, still harnessed to the sledge and hoping
against hope that it wasn’t going to a) overtake you or b) run you
over. The second was to strap our skis and poles to the sledges, lie on
top of them and bomb down at high speed. We finally went for option
three, ‘launching’ the sledges from the top and following them down,
practising our telemark turns en route. It worked rather well, apart
from one heart-stopping moment when my sledge caught an impressive but
unexpected amount of air as it careered over the lip of a snowed-in

Ben Saunders
Follow his journey to Greenland

Image: © 2005 Ben Saunders
Related link: earlier Moleskinerie feature