It was a unique coming together of western explorers, locals and traditional hunter-fishermen. Four members of the Under the Pole expedition team, five young Inuit from the Uummannaq Children’s Home and two accompanying teachers were guided by Inuit hunter-fishermen on a 600 km dogsled adventure beyond Greenland's northern most territories.
First ice camp. © Lucas Santucci/Under the Pole
They learned how to manage a dogsled pack, how to go fishing on the ice to catch a feed for the pack, how to create a warm tent with reindeer skins and even a Greenlandic card game or two. The team, in return, guided the Inuit on their first ever dives beneath the ice.
Ghislain Bardout guiding teenager Nukaaraq under a glass ceiling. © Lucas Santucci/Under the Pole
Poor weather and a lack of snow this winter, however, nearly scuttled this last stage of the expedition. Exposed surface ice is abrasive to the dogs’ legs. Too little snow also means a lack of an easy water source. Fortunately conditions improved and the party set off north into the magical landscape between mountains and ocean.
They traveled by dogsled for eight days, sleeping in hunting cabins or in tents on the ice, learning about traditional Inuit ways.
12-year-old Miannguac sitting by a fishing hole to catch dinner for the dogs. © Lucas Santucci/Under the Pole
Whenever possible, the team encouraged the hunters and young people to dive.
“I was really impressed by their ability to adapt to the situation,” says Ghislain Bardout. “The way they moved under the sea ice despite the fact some of them can barely swim.
“After several dives, the most adventurous moved 10 m away from the hole and enjoyed observing the sea bed, fish and ice ceiling.
“Our objective was achieved; the young people became explorers of their own environment.”
All the young sub ice explorers and divers received certificates. © Lucas Santucci/Under the Pole
Main photo: © Lucas Santucci/Under the Pole