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Wednesday, 18 May 2011 09:34

How we dress to stay warm [Video]

So now that they are racing against spring to make it to their final destination, Team Pittarak does not go to such lengths. When they started, however, it was... ahem... slightly colder. So here's what they do to keep from that cold.

[Via Pittarak: Northwest Passage Expedition]

Tuesday, 17 May 2011 08:59

Of plans and routes

mapsandrouteDistance traveled:
May 16th: 48.1 km
May 17th: 25.2 km

Position: N67°03'20.6 W086°59'09.3

Yesterday, the rough ice in Committee Bay kept us land bound, so we kite-skied south, following the trail toward the town of Repulse Bay. There was alarmingly little snow covering the sandy and rocky coastline; the snow had often melted on either side of the trail. Spring melt is definitely on its way.

This morning, we huddled over the maps with our GPS in hand, reviewing the available information. We had two options ahead: we could continue to detour south-east overland pushing inland towards flat kiteable terrain, or we could attempt to ski the next few days through the rough ice of Committee Bay.

Although the Committee Bay route was much shorter, heading inland, provided the winds were good, would allow us to travel bigger distances with our kites.

We had recently received a weather update calling for north-west winds tomorrow, and clear windless weather for today.

And so we decided that sometimes, you have to head south to go north, so we packed our kiting gear away, got out our shorts and ipods out and hauled through the day and into the night. With any luck, there will be winds tomorrow and we can kite overland.


[Via Pittarak: Northwest Passage Expedition]

Sunday, 15 May 2011 07:20

A pristine North?

DumpsiteDistance traveled:
May 14th: To the airport and back
May 15th: 132.5 km

Position: N67°35'31.2 W087°52'25.5

We walked down the main street of town, past the hotel, then the church; were given some more route advice by a couple friendly guys hanging out in front of the local co-op store; then continued on towards the airport to check if our resupply of food, and most importantly our maps, had arrived. Still no luck. Hopefully they'll arrive on the next flight.

As we walked back, I admired the location of the town, perched on the ocean by the mouth of a river, with a beautiful backdrop of rocky hills. Surprisingly, we have yet to see the town dump, which was probably hidden behind a hill, during our walks.

Many think of the North as pristine and clean; however, the dump sites in most communities in Nunavut stick up like a sore thumb. As we skied into Taloyoak a couple weeks ago, the first sign of town was a cloud of ravens circling their landfill. Back in Cambridge Bay, while a friend was giving us a tour of town (which, of course, included the dump), we watched two men throw out bags of good quality winter jackets and snow pants. We stopped and picked up the clothing, filling the back of our friend's pick up truck - it wouldn't be hard to find people who would need winter jackets. This kind of wasteful behaviour happens regularly in all the communities, earning the dumps in the North the nickname "Canadian Tire", after the chain of hardware stores.

And what happens to the trash? Most communities pile it up and light it on fire, burning plastics outside at low temperatures just beside the town.

But how can we blame the small towns, when Iqaluit, both the capital of Nunavut and my home town, sets no better example. Although we have now stopped burning our garbage, we pile it up into a mountain of trash that is now several times higher than the fences that surround the dump. Located on an island with high cost of shipping, most supplies arrive in town by boat or plane, and never leave, adding to our landfill site.

The problem first came to my attention a couple of years back when my brother, some friends and myself started to build a cabin; the goal was to use only recycled materials, most of which found at the dump. As you can imagine, we got to know that dump site pretty well, and I started to wonder, is there no better option? Was recycling or compost a feasible option for the city? Thanks to ONF (the french division of National Film Board of Canada), I launched myself into a two year project researching, writing and directing a film on the topic, featuring both the construction of our cabin, and one man's struggle to run a compost project in town.

See it for your self:


[Via Pittarak: Northwest Passage Expedition]


Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry are attempting to be the first to kite ski the Northwest Passage. Their goals: To encourage youth to get active and to highlight the effects that climate change is having on the Northwest Passage.

Published in Frontpage
Friday, 13 May 2011 07:16

Arrived in Kugaaruk

headingoutcampingDistance traveled:
May 12th: 88.9 km
May 13th: 30.2 km

Position: N68°31'34.9 W089°50'09.3

We kite-skied into Kugaaruk, once known as Pelly Bay. As we packed our kites away, we were welcomed by several hunters on snowmachines who had come to see who was traveling through their bay. We arrived on Friday, and as we walked into town, we saw many people busy packing their sleds with skins and other camping equipment, getting ready to head out on the land for a hunting or camping excursion. The word was out that we had arrived in town, and people on the streets offered us advice on the route ahead.

The winter weather is breaking and the spring is coming, along with long daylight hours. Soon the annual caribou migration will happen, bringing the herds up from mainland North America through the Boothia Peninsula. Besides caribou, the people here hunt seals, muskox, and polar bear, all important staples in their diet.

We are also anxious to get back to the land; while the warmer weather makes traveling more pleasurable, the onset of spring determines the end date of our expedition. We can't kite without snow. However, for the time being, we are delayed, waiting for a resupply of food to arrive by air. We have been keeping busy asking the locals for advice on the route ahead, what the ice conditions are like in Committee Bay and what overland options we can use to travel to our next stop, the community of Igloolik.


[Via Pittarak: Northwest Passage Expedition]

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