May 3–5, 2024

It feels like we broke the back of the ice shear problem we’ve been having for a few days. We found our way over some very difficult pack ice sections and some cracks and made real progress to the South. The mountains of northern Greenland - the northernmost continental land in the world - are getting noticeably bigger on the horizon, and we’re moving towards them rather than pacing around trying to get near them.

Last day saw what is both a great success and a great relief for our team. We always knew that the crossing from the moving ocean ice in the high latitudes to the “land fast” ice connected to the Greenland coast would be difficult, since the currents and wind push these together to create a vast graveyard of pack ice and broken sheets. Even seasoned Arctic fox Vasily Elagin said “this is not a traveling to which I was looking forward.” But today we did it. We put to the test the team's physical strength and endurance as we spent hours chipping away at the stubborn ice that constantly threatened to impede our progress to the South.

And now we’re on the ice connected to Greenland. It doesn’t mean we don’t still have a lot of work to do. But it does mean that the biggest unknown on the ocean is now behind us. And we will take our first full overnight sleep for many days.These days saw us despairing that we’d never get past a certain patch of open water, and then we found a series of ice islands and scampered across. And then we got caught in a massive dead end. But we’re pushing hard for the Greenland coast and moving over a difficult terrain when the weather allows.

So, with the advantages of Polar Day, we are moving without regard to the clock. Some of us are quite tired now because of taking shifts and sleeping in moving cars. However, the team is making progress. In the last 12 hours, we’ve crossed, among other things, some huge ice ridges and an area of new ice in a frozen lead that was just enough to hold some of our vehicles up but not others. We disconnected all the trailers and had to pull them from shore to shore, two Yemelyas as well.

We are probably in the most difficult terrain of the whole Arctic ice crossing: still on the moving ocean ice, but in the last 50km where the southerly current and wind push it up against the “fast” ice that is stuck to the Greenland coast. It’s littered with old pack ice that has been pushed south too, so it’s a vast ice junkyard - maybe the hardest terrain in the Arctic. And it’s late in the season and getting warm, so this is where we pull out ALL our tricks - picks, shovels, ladders, floating, muscles - to get over the terrain. Honestly we’re all pretty tired. But we’re looking at the line of the fast ice off the shore of Greenland as salvation.
Expedition diary Stage 2