Yukon kite-skiers tired, happy from Greenland trek

Two adventurers from the Yukon say they're healthy, happy and exhausted after spending 67 days traversing the Greenland ice cap on kite-skis.
Devon McDiarmid, left, Adrian Hayes, centre and Derek Crowe reached their destination near Qanaaq, Greenland, late Saturday. McDiarmid and Crowe are now recuperating in Copenhagen. ((Emirates NBD Greenland Quest))

Two adventurers from the Yukon say they're healthy, happy and exhausted after spending 67 days traversing the Greenland ice cap on kite-skis.

Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe, both of Whitehorse, travelled 4,262 kilometres across the full length of Greenland, reaching their destination Saturday night at the head of MacCormick Fiord.

Much of their expedition involved crossing the ice cap that covers 85 per cent of Greenland, moving on their skis while hauling 150-kilogram sleds — known as pulks — with food and supplies.

"Our last week was so hard with getting up at random times, dragging our still-heavy pulks over rocks for days and days," McDiarmid told CBC News Wednesday from Copenhagen, where they are recuperating.

"I was just tired."

Kite-skiing is a winter sport in which skiers use a parachute-like kite to harness the wind and move around, often sailing above the ground.

The two Yukoners, along with British team leader Adrian Hayes, are believed to have completed the longest unassisted polar trek in history.

The team's goal in was to raise awareness about climate change and environmental sustainability.

The trio was forced to ration food through the entire journey. Crowe said they're now glad to be enjoying a full range of culinary options again.

"The body's pretty happy to have all these different things to eat," Crowe said from the Danish capital.

"It's been the most exciting thing and we're feeling pretty healthy."

The adventurers said they encountered numerous close calls as they made their way along the ice cap.

Crowe recalled once being overpowered by winds that lifted him nearly eight metres in the air.

"If I would have panicked in that situation, or not had the experience that living in Carcross and learning to kite on Lake Bennett — with all the wild winds had given me — I would have been really hurt," he said.

Had the trio been unable to complete their journey, Crowe said they were looking at a minimum $60,000 US flight out of the remote parts of Greenland they were on.

Crowe and McDiarmid had originally planned to return to Whitehorse later this week, but say they now expect to be home in the second week of August.