McDiarmid reflects on Greenland quest

After traveling a total of 4,262 kilometres in distance, over 2,100 metres in altitude and back down to just five metres, Devon McDiarmid still hasn't made it home. The Whitehorse adventurer is in Denmark, visiting family and getting some much needed rest and relaxation.

After traveling a total of 4,262 kilometres in distance, over 2,100 metres in altitude and back down to just five metres, Devon McDiarmid still hasn’t made it home.

The Whitehorse adventurer is in Denmark, visiting family and getting some much needed rest and relaxation.

McDiarmid and fellow Yukoner Derek Crowe, as well as British adventurer Adrian Hayes, are all nursing their tired bodies after kite-skiing the length of Greenland, traveling from the very bottom to the very top and partway back down again.

After 67 days on snow and ice, McDiarmid is looking forward to returning to Whitehorse, where he can catch up with family and friends and perhaps have a pint or two.

“I missed the summer; I missed all the events, friends, trails, and my dog,” wrote McDiarmid in an e-mail to the News. “Once I get back to Whitehorse, I think I’ll have a Yukon Red, go for a ride with my dog, then maybe have another Red!”

The trio of adventurers, who finished their lengthy trek on Sunday, encountered a plethora of obstacles during their trip, such as getting the right winds to power their kites. However, their last day of travel was their slowest.

The weary kite-skiers had to climb down from the ice-cap over jagged rock faces. It took 13 hours to make the descent.

“We didn’t know how long it would take, but we did know we had only that day to get to the end,” wrote McDiarmid. “We were ready to move for 24 hours if needed. Thirteen hours was long and very tough, but with every hour we could see a little more of our final goal. That kept us going.

“It was the first and only time we could actually see ahead to where we had to go. Every other day was just GPS points on a big white canvas.”

It was a quest for adventure, but also a quest for science. Working with an environmental group called One Planet Living and some Danish and Canadian polar researchers, the trio collected samples, did density testing on snow and observed wildlife on the journey.

Earlier this week, climatologists have reaffirmed findings that Greenland’s glaciers are the fastest melting ice masses in the northern hemisphere, with the island’s largest glacier, Sermersuaq, retreating 10 kilometres over the last decade. But the effects of global warming are not immediately evident, according to McDiarmid.

“To go, and see the effects of global warming is hard, but the people who live there and depend on the ice, they can tell you,” he wrote. “The first people we saw were on our last day! They were a local Inuit people out to hunt and fish. They told us how it was the warmest summer they ever remember, how it was the first time they hadn’t been able to hunt any seals, because the seals were not in this particular fiord, because it was too warm for the seals. Also, they described the how big the glaciers were, even only five years ago.”

Although warmer temperatures are effecting Greenland’s landscape, the Inuit whom the kite-skiers encountered at the end of their journey were unchanged by modern technology, which surprised McDiarmid.

“I was surprised by the local people and how they lived,” said McDiarmid. “The local Inuit decided to hunt using traditional ways. As in, they only use kayaks to hunt seals and whales and they only use dog sled teams to hunt (on land)—not Ski Doos! This is a decision that they made themselves. It is very important that they only take what they need.

“We could all learn a lesson from that, including our local First Nations. The people are proud, and healthy.”

The Greenland quest was first dreamed up by McDiarmid and Hayes over a year ago when the two were completing an expedition to the South Pole. However, the Greenland trip must have been more demanding, because they were too exhausted to plan more adventures.

“Adrian and I did come up with this trip while finishing our expedition to the South Pole,” said McDiarmid. “This year, however, we did not talk much about a joint trip. I think the dreaming was overshadowed by how tired we were at the end of this. None of us had energy to dream.

“However, I can’t sit still, and neither can the guys.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ken Anderson’s Sun and Moon model sculpture sits in the snow as he carves away at the real life sculpture behind Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre for the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous festival in Whitehorse on Feb. 21, 2018. Yukon Rendezvous weekend kicks off today with a series of outdoor, virtual and staged events. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Rendezvous snowpad, live music and fireworks this weekend

A round-up of events taking place for the 2021 Rendezvous weekend

Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt crosses the 2021 Yukon Journey finish line in first place at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 26. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Whitehorse musher Hans Gatt crosses the 2021 Yukon Journey finish line in first place at approximately 10:35 a.m. on Feb. 26. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Hans Gatt wins inaugural 2021 Yukon Journey

The Yukon Journey, a 255-mile race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse, kicked off on Feb. 24

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Most Read