This summer, a crew of four men will attempt to row the Northwest Passage in a single season, to showcase the profound effect climate change is having on the Arctic. It's an expedition called The Mainstream Last First.
The team consists of Kevin Vallely, a Canadian adventurer with a number of cold-weather expeditions under his belt including a record-setting trek to the South Pole in 2009; Paul Gleeson, an Irish ocean-rower who rowed across the Atlantic in 2005; Frank Wolf, an Award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker who, with teammate Roman Rockcliffe, made the first and only single-season crossing of Canada by canoe; and Denis Barnett, a Dublin native who is the youngest member of the team and going on his first major expedition.
Kevin Vallely shares with explore a little about their goal and what this epic adventure means to the team. CLICK HERE to sign up for live updates via newsletter!
The expedition will start on July 1, 2013. The goal is to complete the row in about 75 days--however, the crew knows this is only a rough estimate.
"When talking time on an expedition like this, there are just too many variables to nail anything down accurately," says Kevin. "The biggest factors for us will be ice and wind, which are extremely hard to predict."
Regardless, the team needs to get to the finish point in Pond Inlet by the end of September or they'll have serious issues with freeze-up.
The Hardest Part
Obviously, there will be a host of challenges along the way - things like stormy weather, shifting ice and hungry polar bears, to name a few. However, as a team, the toughest part will be to maintain a civility among the crew.
"For almost three months, we'll be four overworked and underfed lads, crammed into a space smaller than your average parking stall," says Kevin. "But it's all about the opportunity to try something that has never been done before in one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth, and to do it with teammates that share the same passions."
The beauty of this expedition is that there are so many layers to it. There is the rich history of the Northwest Passage with iconic names attached to it such as Baffin, Franklin, Ross, Hudson, Vancouver and Frobisher; all of whom were inextricably linked with the quest of the passage. Then, there is the reality of climate change and the profound effect it is having on wildlife, culture and future of the Arctic region. The crew will experience this first-hand.
"We intend to row the passage in a single season to speak to the changes that are transforming our Arctic regions," says Kevin. "If we succeed--and after much research and discussion with the Canadian Ice Service we think we can--it will be a world first."
Follow the Mainstream Last First on their epic journey. We will be sending updates from the crew, starting from their training this spring right up until their return home. This will be an exciting, inspirational and emotional expedition to be a part of.