Updated: Thu 22 Nov 2012
In August 2012, the School’s Greenland Expedition team completed an unprecedented exploration of Liverpool Land, East Greenland. The nine boy team spent months preparing and training for what was to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to carry out scientific and geographical research in an area where very little of this type of research has been carried out previously.
Supported by the School’s Head of Outdoor Education and the expedition’s Leader, Mr Ralph Durbridge, the team spent 19 days trekking their way up across Liverpool Land. Along with their expedition guide, Mr Simon Baker and the assistant leader, Mr Jim Evans, undertook vital exploration of previously unmapped in detail and unexplored glacial peaks. To put this achievement into perspective, one needs only to look at glacial peaks which have been mapped in the exploration area previously. The findings from this mapping process will be submitted to the Royal Geographical Society, with whom the team have been working closely with. As a result of their enormous efforts, several of the previously unnamed peaks have been informally named after the team members and the School; a huge honour for all those involved.
Having completed geographical mapping, the team turned their attention to their scientific part of the expedition. As part of their preparation, members of the team worked with Dr Helen Findlay of Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) prior to the expedition. Months were spent planning the collection of data which was to contribute to the study of glacial melting and the affect this had on the sea’s pH levels. Out in the field, along a 45 km tract of Hurry Fjord the team collected water samples from nine different locations, each with a 5km distance from the previous location.
The aim of the expedition also encompassed building community links with the residents of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresbysund), in particular the tiny village school. The team saw what it was like to live day to day in such a remote area. Whilst in the area they visited a weather station which monitors weather patterns, gathering vital data. They spoke to scientists who demonstrated the use of state of the art monitoring equipment, including the launch of a weather balloon.
The expedition did not simply end upon their safe return. Much of all scientific work continues after the initial data collection, with data analysis and further experimentation required well after any expedition. To date the team have presented their findings to the Royal Geographical Society and continue to work with Dr Findlay of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
Here the Student Leader and Chairman of the Mountaineering Club, Conor Taylor, describes the expedition first hand and what it has meant to them:
“The Greenland expedition could not have been more of a success than it was. With two years preparation, it’s very hard to fathom that it comes down to one month of expedition. The Preparation phase is definitely a contender for most important section, a quote I think is most suitable is ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. Fortunately, for us our preparation was done to such a good standard that there was very little that could go wrong and if something did go wrong nine times out of ten there was nothing we could do about it; for example, some food rations arriving late and them having to be helicoptered in.
Moving on to the main phase of our expedition, which inevitably was trekking. Greenland provides some of the most unique landscapes known to man, with nature’s most spectacular icebergs and glaciers being owned to Greenland, it is no wonder why it provides such wonderful landscapes, but they are just a bonus; ‘icing on the cake’, for it is the sense of isolation that makes Greenland so unique. While we were out on trek, it was just us, no one to aid us along our journey us, no one to point us in the right direction and definitely no one to purchase food from. For it is all of these factors that make Greenland what it is, there are no other areas in the world quite like Greenland and I honestly feel privileged to have been part of what in my opinion has been a life changing experience.
We achieved more than we set out to achieve, scaling 14 peaks and walking on uncharted land, what 14-16 year old boys can say they have done that? Let alone adults! It is wonderful to think that we are also furthering society by conducting geographic and scientific studies whilst in Greenland. Our links with the Royal Geographical Society have proved to be very exciting and I look on with eager to see how this unfolds.
It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of this expedition, I would like to thank all the team members for being exceptional throughout the expedition but more importantly a huge thank you, to Mr Durbridge; for whom without, this would not have been possible.”
As part of the expedition the team documented their trials and tribulations throughout their journey. It is hoped that this will form part of a documentary that the team will produce and submit to The Royal Geographical Society with IBG, London (RGS). The team's ascent of previously unmapped glacial peaks will enable them to assist in the mapping process in conjunction with members of the Royal Geographical Society. Shane Winser and Amy Morris of the RGS kindly provided a one day instruction on Expedition Planning and the effects of acidification on marine life.
Working in conjunction with Dr Helen Findlay of Plymouth Marine Laboratory the team will be involved in new ground breaking research techniques focusing on the impacts of Global Warming on ocean and climate systems.
Dr Helen Findlay as the team's scientific advisor. She has a PhD in Biologicial Oceanography, is highly respected in her field of ocean acidification and carbon cycling. Helen has successfully participated in three field expeditions to the Artic and is a member of CATLIN survey.
Simon Baker Bsc (MIA) ML(w) is the team's technical advisor who has lead several expeditions to Greenland and other exciting destinations.
Paul Walker BEd Hons, F.R.G.S: a world leading authority in mountaineering and ski-touring expeditions to Artic Greenland, organising more than 150 expeditions to Artic Greenland, Baffin Island and Svalbard over the past 19 years.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE (Our Expedition Patron) Statement
"I have visited both poles, travelled great rivers on a hovercraft, and spent four decades leading expeditions to remote areas. I believe that this great Expedition experience will mature the boys' vision and perception of elements so very different from our normal environment. Each of the individuals on this journey will learn things about their own character, their confidence level and their integrity, which this quest is liable to test.
I am proud to support this ambitious cause, and I urge you to do the same."
Click here to visit Digital Explorer
Click here for the Greenland 2012 Itinerary
Click here for the Greenland 2012 Training Schedule
Contact Mr Ralph Durbridge
Telephone: 020 8872 8454