Hot seat: Adrian Hayes

Dubai resident Adrian Hayes is close to completing his record-breaking expedition in Greenland

Interview, Hot seat, The brief, The Knowledge

What is your mission?
Together with Canadian adventurers Devon McDiarmid and Derek Crowe, the Emirates NBD Greenland Quest is an attempt to traverse the full 3,500km length of Greenland using the power of the wind to haul our 150kg sleds via kite skiing. It will likely be the longest unassisted Arctic Polar journey in history.

What’s been the hardest part of your journey so far?
Definitely descending to the Artic Coast, in a place called JP Kocks Fjord, which was a 10-hour descent down a glacier. We saw for ourselves what a melting glacier looks like, as we were skiing, falling and wading through water. But we had set the goal, so we gave it our best shot and did it.

What’s been the highlight?
The highlight was at that same place, when we were at the top of the glacier looking down. I put a picture on the website (www.greenlandquest.com). It was utterly, utterly unspoilt. There’s probably been fewer than five people there in all of history.

How are you feeling now?
Well, the goal was to reach the coast but as I always said it’s not the end of the trip yet – we’ve got 800km to go until northwest Greenland. We’ve been going 51 days now. It’s just become our way of life. We’re going all hours of the night because it’s light 24 hours. Sometimes we leave at midnight, this morning we left at 3am. You just get into living rough, getting cold, eating freeze-dried rations. You forget what’s going on elsewhere.

Can you possibly think about your next challenge right now?
It’s another hike. This one’s already been planned. It’s in the New Forest in Hampshire, it’s one kilometre and it’s down to the local pub.

What are you missing most from home?
Dubai in the summer? Not much, to be honest. It’s a beautiful place, but not in the summer. So July and August, I’m afraid, Summer Surprises and all that – you can keep those things. I like to escape from Dubai. The only news I’ve heard in the last two months is that Michael Jackson is dead and the British Lions lost the Test. Life becomes simple, about warmth, shelter and food.

What has been your biggest insight from the trip?
We’re doing this to promote sustainability. The key principle of this is that you can’t solve the problem of a melting ice cap without looking at the whole of the environment, the society and our economy. So, something you do in the economy will help fix society and the environment, and if you do something in the environment, it’ll affect the economy. Our main aim is to get this message across, tying up with the UK environmental group, BioRegional and One Planet Living. The concept behind this is that if the whole world lived like they do in western Europe, we would need three planets to live in. If the world lived like they do in the States, we’d need five. If the whole world lived like we do in the UAE, we’d need seven.

So what have you learnt about climate change on the trip?
We’ve been doing recordings of snow depths every day. Scientists will put this into their monitoring programme in order to measure precipitation.

If all our readers did one thing to support sustainability, what would you tell them to do?
I’d recommend they look up the One Planet Living website [www.oneplanetliving.org] or our website for starters. That’s got all the links. Then I’d tell them to realise that everything you do relates to everything else. It’s not just about getting energy efficient light bulbs, taking garbage to waste pits and all the rest of it, but also the food you eat. For instance, meat eating is probably the biggest challenge facing global warming because cattle produce methane and that’s got a three-times grosser effect on the atmosphere than even CO2!

Want to read more?

Visit www.greenlandquest.com to see Adrian’s blog and photos, as well as information about sustainability.

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