Pro snowboarder Lucas DeBari’s quest all started with seeing a pixelated photo of a peak in Greenland.
He later learned that the peak was called Rytterknaegten, and immediately knew that one day he would attempt to ride his snowboard down it.
The Greenland Project, presented by The North Face (TNF), is a part of the travelling speaker series that made its stop in Whistler on Monday night (Dec. 1). Attendees watched a presentation by DeBari before launching into From Mica to Greenland, a 22-minute documentary ski film by Whistler’s Sherpas Cinema that follows DeBari and Johnny Collinson as they prepare for their Greenland expedition at Mica Heliskiing near Revelstoke, B.C. The duo later joined TNF athletes Hilaree O’Neill and Ralph Backstrom for the expedition to the Karale Glacier, north of the tiny settlement of Kulusuk on Greenland’s south east coast.
After months of research, planning and gaining support for the expedition from sponsors, the athletes and film crew set off towards the Karale Glacier on a boat, which in addition to nine people, was carrying all the expedition equipment and two packs of sled dogs.
“On the first day when we were going into the fjords the weather warmed up drastically, super fast,” said Sherpas Cinema producer Eric Crosland. “A rain event hit and it rained to the top of all the mountains and it basically flooded the whole valley bottom, which was the pack ice we were trying to dogsled on. We basically couldn’t move and had to go around all the water welling up underneath the pack ice, with avalanches coming down on all over the place.”
After the dog sleds had carried the team as far as they could go, they began ski touring up towards the Karale Glacier, but it wasn’t long before more inclement weather set in.
“There was this incredible marine fog that set in for a week to 10 days and we couldn’t really see where we were going,” said Crosland. “So we had crazy weather with huge mountains with incredible remoteness. If anything goes wrong, you’re really screwed, because hospitals would be multiple days away (even) if the weather was good.”
While the majority of the expedition was spent waiting out bad weather in tents, the group did manage to get some skiing in on a few lines and couloirs. Crusty conditions meant everyone had to dial back their usual style, as seen when Collinson carefully picks his way down a steep face and DeBari backs off all together to ride down a safer line on the opposite side of the ridge. The goal of riding down Rytterknaegten was unfulfilled and while the crew spent most of their time in Greenland in glacial isolation, they did get some time to interact with the local native communities.
“We took all the kids skiing one day,” said Crosland. “Those were by far some of the best memories of the trip.”
To view The North Face: From Mica to Greenland go to TNF’s YouTube channel.