Skiing the Arctic Circle

Words and Images by WWA Ambassador Thomas Woodson

Thomas Woodson, Adventure Photographer, Filmmaker, Winter Wildlands Alliance Ambassador

IN MARCH, I SPENT TWO WEEKS SKI TOURING IN GREENLAND. The first week I followed along with two athletes, photographing their self-supported traverse of the Arctic Circle Trail, over 100 miles from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut on the west coast.

The adventure began inauspiciously, with a bad ski accident the first day. Dislocated shoulder and broken tibia after a rag doll down through ~38º scree. It was a 3.5hr technical rescue, belaying him down the slope, going to the hut for a rescue sled and sleeping bag. We reset his shoulder in the hut and splinted his leg for evacuation that evening.

Thereafter we glided along through massive bleak landscapes and across numerous frozen lakes and fjords. Each sunset brought us to the next hut along the way, as temperatures dipped well below 0ºF.

Once the work was over, we were dropped off at a hut on Second Fjord with some logistical help from Sirius Greenland out of Sisimiut. This area is virtually untouched by skiers, with massive amounts of ski mountaineering potential above this hut. The snowpack was pretty thin for us as it had been a cold and dry March, so we resorted to reading books and skinning around the fjord. A solid rest before I had to jet off to another shoot.

It was quite the learning experience, and I desperately want to put together a proper ski trip around Sisimiut some day.
A backcountry skier with his skis attached to his backpack stands on a ridgetop overlooking mountains in Washington's Olympic Peninsula
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