Salomon’s Guilt Trip: ski mountaineering meets science in Greenland

The only thing greater than their desire to ski the first descent of Greenland’s second highest peak is the size of their carbon footprint to get there

Way up north in the Arctic circle and with several peaks over 3000m, Greenland is a spectacular ski destination, but it’s also right at the forefront of climate change: its massive ice cap (which is 6 times the size of the UK!) and glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, and contributing to increasingly concerning sea level rise. Sermilik Fjord alone transports 30 gigatonnes of icebergs (that were once part of the ice sheet) out into the open ocean each year.

The Salomon crew embarked on a mission to ski the first descent of Mount Forel, Greenland’s second highest peak, but given the country’s precarious climate situation were uncomfortable at about simply jetting in and contributing to the problem. Instead they decided to bring renowned glaciologist Alun Hubbard along on their ‘guilt trip,’ in order to conduct research to better understand the problems the ice sheet faces. Is the meltwater from the increased surface melt the ice sheet has experienced over a succession of record warm summers absorbed back into the glacier as some theories suggest, or does it run off an impermeable layer of ice within the glacier directly into the sea?

Guilt Trip – Salomon TV [Full Movie]

The only thing greater than this group of skier’s desire to claim a first ski descent on Greenland’s second highest peak is the size of their carbon footprint to get there. Loaded with guilt, they decide to bring along renowned glaciologist, Alun Hubbard, who’s scientific hypothesis, if proven, could rewrite popular projections of global sea-level rise.

However, nothing worth doing comes easily, and the crew were faced with difficulties right from the outset, when Air Greenland didn’t have enough fuel to fly them in to their basecamp objective. Instead the team relied on traditional dog sleds and the power of their own legs, schlepping up to 20km a day over the glaciers before even reaching the foot of their ski objectives. That was only the start of their problems however: under the influence of a record heatwave, the glaciers moved so fast that crevasses opened up literally right under their tents during the few days they were there…