Friday, February 5, 2010

Kite Skiing in the Alaskan Arctic

Dan heads west along the wind-swept tundra of the Arctic coastal plain.

He spent hours hunched over his sewing machine, stitching together the slippery material that would one day pull him across the frozen tundra. Dan mastered his sewing skills as he created from scratch several different sized kites. Each individual kite was designed for a particular meteorological condition; the largest would scoop up enough air in a light wind regime and accelerate Dan forward, while the smallest would be utilized in stronger winds where a large surface area of fabric was not necessary for propulsion.

I drove Dan north to Alaska's Arctic coastal plain where he was to make a test run of "kite" assisted travel for a few days. This is a harsh environment where wintertime temperatures seldom climb above zero degrees Fahrenheit, the sun remains below the horizon for nearly two months, and strong winds accompanied by zero visibility in blowing snow can persist unabated for days. His plan was to ski across the tundra to the village of Nuiqsut and work out any bugs with his system before venturing off on a more comprehensive journey across Alaska.

Loading up the hand-crafted sled and bag with a weeks worth of gear to survive in sub-zero temperatures and mind numbing wind chills.

Bundles of lithium batteries for a headlamp, gps, and SPOT messenger.

Ensuring the kite lines are untangled prior to departure.

All geared up and ready to launch the kite. First stop: Nuiqsut, Alaska.

Vlogging from the drop-off point 15 miles south of the Arctic Ocean.

No comments: