Neil and I are in the final stages of preparing for this Brooks Range Winter Traverse expedition with equipment, food, power, communications, transport and logistics pretty much sorted out now. We’re looking forward to swapping our truck tyres for sleds and T-Shirts for down jackets. I suppose I should be careful about what I wish for. We fly to Alaska in late December and expect to start sledding around January 5th.
Our aim is to conduct the journey between the winter and spring equinoxes of 21 December 2016 and 20 March 2017. Starting in early January, we’ll have about 10 weeks to complete the journey. I expect we’ll be stretched to the very end to complete it in that time, due to the virtual darkness we’ll be in for the first half of the trip and the bitter temperatures of -50C and below that will hamper our progress. Not to mention the blizzards, overflow ice, hungry beasts and extremely variable conditions in that part of the world. This will not be like an Antarctic sledge journey in summer or even a North Pole trek in spring. Our entire expedition will be conducted in the Arctic winter with areas of the traverse expected to vary from deep snow to no snow at all, bare rock and vegetation to polished ice. I think it will be the toughest challenge I’ve taken on.
Our plan is to traverse the entire length of the range by ski and towing sleds. We will commence from the village of Noatak near the west coast of Alaska and finish on the north eastern coast at the village of Kaktovik on Barter Island. Depending on time and conditions, we’l have several options as to where we pull out of the range to turn northwards to Kaktovik. All being well, it will be virtually at the Canadian border. While the most direct practical line through the mountains will be followed, the necessity to link navigable valley systems via surmountable mountain passes will see the trek cover up to 1500 kilometres, require an approximate minimum average of 22 kilometres per day, every day.
Neil and I have conducted three prior expeditions together, all on Himalayan 8000ers, and shared a few serious epics in the process. I’m looking forward to sharing another adventure with him.
Thanks to our many sponsors without whose support we would really be struggling to get this epic off the ground.