Leo Houlding in snowkiting action

Leo Houlding in snowkiting action

A renowned climber has successfully completed a new Arctic adventure – using kites.

Leo Houlding, best known for his audacious climbing expeditions in the Antarctic, Baffin Island, Venezuela and Yosemite, covered 1,000 miles across the Greenland snowcap using snowkites.

The Cumbria-based adventurer and his companion Bruce Corrie had to shelter for days on end in their tent as snowstorms and whiteouts hampered their progress. On other days, the lack of wind meant they could not use their snowkites, but they still completed the route in less than three weeks.

It was Leo Houlding’s debut snowkiting expedition and Bruce Corrie’s first major expedition of any type.

The pair snowkited from Kangerlussuaq in south-west Greenland and finished in Qaanaaq, one of the most northerly towns on Earth. They completed the distance in 18 days, battling difficult weather conditions and challenging terrain, and each towing 135kg loads.

When Houlding and Corrie did get moving, they also had to deal with obstacles such as sastrugi, wave-like ridges of up to a metre in height on the surface of the snow that both added to the technical difficulty of the snowkiting and also pounded their knees. Despite all of this, Houlding and Corrie covered an average of 55 miles a day.

Houlding and Corrie used the latest snowkiting equipment during their expedition, along with cold weather clothing by Berghaus that had been designed for the coldest condition on the planet and previously field tested in Greenland.

Houlding camping in whiteout conditions

Houlding camping in whiteout conditions

They were able to send back brief updates from Greenland and people from around the world followed their progress via a GPS tracker and social media.

Speaking to Berghaus from Qaanaaq, Leo Houlding said: “This was my first long-distance polar expedition and a great learning experience.

“It was more challenging than I expected partly due to untypical weather depositing lots of snow, terrible visibility and strange wind patterns, but also because snowkiting is much more technically difficult than you may imagine.

Leo Houlding and Bruce Corrie, right, celebrate a successful day snowkiting

Leo Houlding and Bruce Corrie, right, celebrate a successful day snowkiting

“Thankfully, Bruce was on hand with vast kiting experience and together with my expedition pedigree we made a good team. Although we had some tough conditions, the last day was epic: 110 miles of high-speed kiting on great terrain in the sun and then a six-hour descent on foot from the ice cap to the fjord was for both of us our best day of kiting ever.”

More details of the expedition can be seen on the Berghaus website.

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