Lake Tahoe local Meghan Kelly will accompany four other women on a frigid expedition to the icy outback of Greenland next month in an effort to ski first descents, inspire women and spread knowledge about the impacts of climate change.
The three-week journey will start March 29, when the group sets sail from Isafjorour, Iceland, and heads across the Denmark Strait. They will do so in a 63-foot schooner until reaching Paamiut, Greenland, at least four days later.
Once there, the team will ski some of the country’s southernmost mountains and descend toward the frozen coast.
“Everything is so planned for us in this world, but just to go in there feels like the ultimate test of your skills,” Kelly said of Greenland’s backcountry.
Shifting Ice and Changing Tides, as the expedition is called, started as an idea for an adventure two years ago, she said. The women wanted to have some fun, but they also wanted to do it for a good cause.
So, the group partnered with a number of scientists and agreed to collect data on the environment while they explored the world’s largest island. On their trip, they will gather ocean samples, snow samples and more.
Kelly said it’s a great opportunity to combine two things she’s very passionate about: skiing and environmental protection.
“I’m just super excited,” she said. “I know I have a lot to do still, but the fact that (the trip) is so close keeps the motivation up.”
Plenty of preparation needs to be done before the expedition takes place, especially since none of the women have visited Greenland before, Kelly said. They will have to use a number of skills in order for the excursion to be a success, including mapping, glacier travel, avalanche safety, mountaineering and more.
The trek could also be more challenging than expected if the adventurers experience unfavorable weather, said McKenna Peterson, one of the women participating in the expedition. But there are always concerns of the unknown.
“We’re not really basing this trip on anything else,” she said. “We’re just going for it.”
For Peterson, “going for it” is one of the things that makes the trip so thrilling.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “It’s going to be an awesome opportunity. The terrain and the scenery are going to be breathtaking.”
Shifting Ice and Changing Tides has been reaching out to people and organizations to help fund their expedition. They received a grant from Polartec, a fabrics company, in 2013 and started an online fundraising campaign recently to help them reach their financial goals.
For more information on contributing to their expedition, visit shiftingice.org.