After 70 days alone in the Arctic, two young Australians have today completed an epic journey to become the first people to traverse the largely unexplored Victoria Island.
In May, Chris Bray (25) and Clark Carter (24), both from Sydney, began hauling, paddling and dragging 500kgs of equipment and supplies behind them in unique carts they designed and built themselves. Their mission: to cross 600kms of snow, frozen lakes, mud plains, boulder fields, tundra, endless jagged ice, shattered rock and even rapids. Their remarkable journey is a world first, with the duo passing through regions that have likely never before been seen by human eyes.
“The wildlife out here knows no fear of humans,” says Chris. “Arctic wolves, muskox and caribou have curiously walked right up to us.”
Overcoming countless setbacks, the pair were forced to make do with what limited resources they had to repair and even re-build their carts along the way. But that‘s what makes it an adventure.
“Out here, life becomes both brutally honest and wonderfully simple,” says Chris.
“A bit of responsible risk taking and ingenuity is what it’s all about,” adds Clark.
No strangers to adventure, Chris (Australian Geographic Society’s 2004 Young Adventurer of the Year) and Clark had already been to Victoria Island, traversing the first 300km in 2005 before the approaching winter forced them out. On this trip, the pair had a heart-stopping yet magical encounter with a polar bear – an experience that, despite the danger, was sadly not repeated this year.
“We passed through important polar bear denning grounds but didn’t even see a single bear footprint, let alone the real thing. Whether the lack of bears is just luck or due to climate change is anyone’s guess but it’s surprising because everyone including the Inuit thought we’d see bears again for sure,” says Chris.
The experience has been shared with thousands of people via www.1000HourDay.com, with live tracking of their progress displayed on a map as well as daily updates complete with photos.
Backed by principle partner iiNet and major sponsors ASUS, GORE-TEX®, Australian Geographic, Paddy Pallin and Citizen Watches, the pair will be officially welcomed home at an event hosted by the Canadian Consulate in Sydney later this month.