If you’re follow my adventures on social media, you’ve most likely spotted this logo along my feed sometime in the last few months. As yet, I haven’t gone very far to talk about the project online, outside of directing friends to the Shifting Ice and Changing Tides website. However, the story behind this expedition runs a little deeper than you would be able to grasp on our website and I thought it was about time to share it.
It started here somewhere between the age of five and seven:
I loved one piece ski suits, pink accessories and my straight Atomic skis. At the time I didn’t like skiing in the rain, I hated leaving the house unless my mittens were tucked properly into my ski suit and I was forever chasing my older sister Anna down the mountain. Most importantly, I had the bug, the skiing bug and twenty years on not much has changed.
One of the most important things that has remained the same was my curiosity, I believe that is what led me to spend a winter overseas skiing, which in turn transformed me into a freerider and then a competitive big mountain skier. I wanted to know what was beyond horizons that I couldn’t see past; I wanted to feel what it was like to burn down a mountain as fast as the skiers on the ski movies we watched as teenagers but most importantly- I wanted to see if I had what it takes to get there.
After five years of letting my curiosity follow a daydream of becoming a professional big mountain skier, I’m slowly but surely reaching that goal- it’s now more of a reality than a daydream. Shifting Ice and Changing Tides started in a fairly similar way.
“Shifting Ice and Changing Tides is a human and wind powered, female led, ski and sail expedition to the west coast of Greenland. In this remote, fascinating and beautiful region, we will explore and ski first descents while limiting our environmental footprint by sailing and climbing. The expedition will serve as a platform for raising awareness about climate change and environmental issues as well as for inspiring and promoting female participation in snow sports adventures.”
Sometime around December of 2012, Meghan Kelly sent myself and several other female athletes who had taken part in the SheJumps Finishing School an email about applying for the Polartec Challenge Grant. An eager group of us responded and over a casual skype call we brainstormed ideas of all-female first descent in Bolivia, Iceland, Antarctica and Africa. The main theme of the discussion was our mutual interest in taking our skills and abilities outside of their usual comfort zones in the hopes of progressing ourselves and in turn, the female side of our sport. They were big goals and from the interior of Pip Hunt’s kitchen nearly a year and a half ago they seemed a long way off.
Two months after our skype call, several months before we charted La Louise to take us from Iceland to Greenland, a month after we had convinced Martha Hunt (Pip’s mum who is both a master yachtsman and a lead catski guide) to join us and around a week after we received the news that we had been awarded a Polartec Challenge Grant- reality set in. By then we were set on sailing to Greenland and skiing first descents, we were sure that people would be excited about the project but we had no idea what to do next. We were floating somewhere between pursuing our curiosity and falling off the side of a dream.
At this time the Shifting Ice team was five strong, including Meghan Kelly, Pip Hunt, Martha Hunt, Mckenna Peterson and myself. We set to work and over the last year, we have transformed a vague ski trip concept into an elegant, interesting expedition that will be full of first descents, open water sailing passages and hopefully no polar bears. Over the last few months we have had the pleasure of welcoming a new addition to the team- Andy Bardon, who will be our photographer during the expedition and several amazing sponsors and partners who are helping to make this trip a reality. You can learn more about the team and our sponsors here.
One of the most difficult aspects of organising this project has been pinpointing exactly what we hope to achieve as a result of the expedition. Some were clear, our goals are to explore never before skied terrain, to be successful in opening new lines and skiing first descents and to inspire women in the ski community through our actions.
However, we felt something was missing. In part through the inspiration of James Balog’s film Chasing Ice and partly through our own interest in the topic, we decided make bringing awareness to the effects of climate change on the Arctic region and the way in which it impacts both the ski and the global community a major focus for the expedition.
80% of Greenland is covered by a giant ice sheet, which in recent years has been melting at a rate five times more than the mid-1990s due to climate change. This melting process releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide, which had been frozen in the ice, into the atmosphere, as well as contributing 50 billion metric tons of water to the global sea level each year.
In order to bring awareness to this issue we will be documenting the expedition through both photo and film, which we share through online and in print media after the end of the trip. We have also partnered with the Climate Reality Project and Adventurers and Scientist for Conservation. With their support, we hope to motivate snow sports enthusiasts to approach the sport in a new way by promoting climate awareness and change towards sustainable development. ASC have also put us in contact with several different research project, for whom we will be collecting data and samples over the three weeks we are at sea. You can read more about these research projects here.
And there is the story. We leave for Iceland in one month. There is still a lot to do, including raising $10,000 on Indiegogo, which will go towards funding the final part of our trip (our travel and the boat charter. If you’re interested in supporting the trip, check out our fundraiser here or to just learn more, you can watch our campaign video below.