SHACKLETON NEWS ARCHIVE
Australian Flip Byrnes, the great-granddaughter of Shackleton's Endurance photographer Frank Hurley, will ski and sail into the record books as the first Australian to cross Greenland's East-West Kulusk – Ilulissat route and the second Australian woman to traverse Greenland.
Together with four others, including Chris Sunderland and his fiancée Rachel Owen, both from the UK, Flip is currently taking part in the 640 km Arctic Kites Expedition.
Her dog 'Basil' (in fact a broom-head on wheels rather than the canine variety!) is going along as her mascot to publicise the 'Black Dog' Institute for treating depression. One in five Australians will suffer depression in their lifetimes. Inspired by watching a close friend suffer from BiPolar disorder for 14 years, she is hoping to raise AUS$15,000 for the Black Dog Institute, to assist it to extend its work improving the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders and enable it to counsel and treat many more patients suffering from depression (Winston Churchill famously called his depressions 'the Black Dog') than is currently possible.
During April and May 2008 the Arctic Kites international team (others of whom will raise money fro diabetes) will cross the Greenland Icecap from its east to west coast, using skis and ski sails. The 640km (c400m) journey from Nagtivit on the East coast to Ilulissat on the West coast will be undertaken on skis, whilst hauling pulks (sleds) each weighing around 100kg. Whenever the conditions are appropriate, sails will be used to pull the team and their pulks across the ice.
The expedition may take up to five weeks and the team will have to survive arctic storms, crevasses, polar bears, sensory deprivation and temperatures as low as -40°C (excluding wind chill).
85 per cent of Greenland is covered by an icecap which holds 10 per cent of the world's total freshwater reserves. The Greenland Ice Cap is approx. 1.8 million sq.km. in size and is almost 14 times the size of England. Only 410,449 square km are ice-free - an area equivalent to the British Isles. The Greenland icecap is the Arctic's largest glacial mass: at its thickest points it is over 3 km deep and contains ice which froze 120,000 years ago. The bottom layers of the ice closest to the bedrock are up to 2 million years old. If the icecap melted, the sea level would rise by approximately 5 metres!
For millions of years, the weight of the Ice Cap has pressed the original bedrock down about 800 meters. Icebergs snap off glaciers at the edge of the Ice Cap. The world's most active glacier - at Ilulissat - moves 25-30 metres each day and calves across a front 10 km in width. Icebergs protruding more than 100 meters above the water line are often seen in Ilulissat - and only one tenth of the iceberg shows above the surface.
The Ice Cap was first crossed in 1888 by the Norwegian Fridjof Nansen, an influence upon and friend of Shackleton and Amundsen. The trip was done on skis. Crossings are usually made from the area around Ammassalik to Kangerlussuaq. In 2006 more than 50 non-scientific expeditions visited the Ice Cap. Among them were groups of skiers who paraglided from the center of the Ice Cap to Kangerlussuaq and a who river-rafted on the meltwater torrents.
See full details of the expedition at: www.arctickites.com
and also: www.crossinggreenland.