Some people say that really special things begin by being something much simpler than we can imagine. We today, from Uller, confirm it. It happens like when two people meet in a bar and turn out to be the love of each other's lives. ring a bell? It would probably be some random bar on a random day when neither of them planned to fall in love. And yet there they are. But no, our collaboration with Ramón Larramendi's team did not start in a bar, but in an email. And it didn't culminate with a kiss either, but rather with an expedition to Greenland – successful, by the way, and which we will talk about in detail in this article –, and here we will take a brief tour of our passion for the Arctic and the sample of our support for research to make this planet something, not only better, but also less unknown.
A VERY SPECIAL COLLABORATION WITH RAMÓN LARRAMENDI'S TEAM
It was the polarist Begoña Hernández Vidal (1980) who contacted us this April 2022 to tell us what she and her team had in mind. Begoña, as a graduate in Environmental Sciences, an ambassador of polar environments and a true passionate, was about to carry out her next challenge: an unprecedented polar expedition by the hand of the Wind Sled of Ramón Larramendi. So of course, we asked him to tell us more. We were too excited!
It would be the following month, in May, when the adventure would begin. An adventure to which Uller was invited to get on board Larramendi's sleigh. What an honor! He and the entire team – about which we will tell you everything later – would entrust his vision protection to our performance masks and goggles. Obviously we said yes. And we said yes for two main reasons. First of all, because collaborating with people who inspire us is one of the parts of our work that we like the most. Only good things can come out of something like this! And, secondly, because we are passionate about Larramendi and the work he does, and we believe that it is of vital importance to support national research especially in everything that has to do with stopping change climate. Discovering the most remote parts of our planet and seeing first-hand the consequences of the deterioration of ecosystems is the first step to solving it. Greenland is, after all, a largely unknown part of the planet, and going on a Wind Sled expedition is quite a milestone. Uller had to be.
And boy was he there!
WHO IS RAMÓN LARRAMENDI?
Where to start? That is, who does not know Ramón Larramendi? If you don't know who we're talking about, don't worry. It's never too late to discover extraordinary people. We are going to put you in context.
Ramón Hernando de Larramendi (1965) is the most renowned Spanish explorer and adventurer of recent times. With more than 40.000km of polar territories traveled behind him, it could be said that the passion he has for what he does goes beyond any vocation. In a report for BBVA within the "Aprendemos juntos" campaign, he assures that it all started as a game. He says that his first ski expeditions were made with his friends in the Pyrenees, which he came to cross from east to west; and in Iceland. Some time later and while still very young, he participated in an Antena 3 raffle in collaboration with the Nescafé company in which you told them the dream you had and you could have it come true. His was to travel to Greenland, and his dream – call it fate, luck or pure coincidence – came true. He and his group of friends, who were no more than twenty years old, went there and discovered a landscape that would steal everyone's heart, but that would lead Larramendi to become who he is today.
A real crack.
From his "explorer's track record" we know that Larramendi has received numerous awards in recognition of his career, and if we were to talk about his curriculum we could say that in 1997 he founded the Tierras Polares travel agency, which in In 2007 he assumed the Directorate of the International Polar Foundation of Spain, which is part of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Geographical Society and that establishing his second residence in Greenland itself has made him speak the language of the Inuits fluently. As if that were not enough, the Inuit Climate Patrol project is also underway, which seeks to promote Eskimo traditions (typical of Inuit culture) in the Thule region of Greenland so that it does not get lost.
He is, in short, the Spaniard who knows the Arctic the best and who has traveled the Antarctic continent the most.
Now, if something has made him truly known inside and outside our borders, it is for the creation of the Wind Sled: the first polar vehicle moved by renewable energies that exists in the world.
RAMÓN LARRAMENDI'S WIND SLED: THE FUTURE OF RESEARCH
It is true that, to speak of Larramendi as an explorer is to fall short: he is the creator of the first polar vehicle powered by renewable energy . Exactly, the one that everyone knows as the Wind Sledge, and we are going to tell you everything about it because it is the protagonist of this expedition in which Uller has participated.
What at first was a project designed for geographic exploration in the polar regions, has become a vehicle that Larramendi himself describes as “efficient, economical and sustainable for the complex and costly collection of scientific data in these territories”. It has become the true axis of their expeditions to Greenland, like this last one in which they wanted to count on us, and which now has scientific and institutional recognition at an international level. In it you can store samples collected from the most hidden places on the planet and at the same time work as a laboratory to analyze them. And it is that, as we told you, this vehicle has been the only one that has reached the most difficult access point of the Antarctic continent.
Here we leave you a video in which you can see exactly what this vehicle consists of and the extraordinary weather conditions it has been able to withstand.
UNPRECEDENTED POLAR EXPEDITION IN GREENLAND WITH THE WINDSLED
The first design of the WindSled was made in 1999, and since then it has gone through a large number of changes and improvements taking into account the climatic difficulties faced in expeditions and other important factors to deal with to make you stronger and faster. For this reason, on this unprecedented polar expedition in which Begoña Hernández joined Larramendi and his team, the Wind Sled was ready to do what it does best: "cross the ice" like a ship in full ocean.
The SOS Arctic 2022 Expedition had on board the mountaineer Borriol Carlos Pitarch – with some 'eight thousandths' behind him such as Cho-Oyu or Everest –, also a mountaineer Marcus Tobía, the researchers Lucía Hortal and Begoña Hernández – master of ceremonies for this collaboration with us – and the mountaineer and journalist Juan Manuel Sotillos. Its objective? Mainly investigating the effects of melting ice and studying the direct consequences of climate change. Thus, on this expedition something happened that the team did not count on and which of course was echoed in the media and in different television reports. Upon returning to Spain, Begoña informed us of the event: “The wind sled team is back. It has been an incredible experience that we are still waking up from… and we have been in the news recently because during the expedition we discovered a nunatak that was not mapped!”. In the team we were amazed. A nunatak! It is a mountain that emerges from the ice as a result of the thaw, and of course that gives us food for thought. After all, this unfortunate discovery, although surprising, is a reflection of the disastrous consequences of climate change in the Arctic and something that is very shocking to see. This geographical accident reached 30 meters of altitude on the ice and about 2.000 meters above sea level. "It was a great surprise because we expected a plain and there was that rocky peak," said Ramón Larramendi. However, far from being catastrophic, this rock formation discovered 25 kilometers from the land limit of the island makes us see that the work of people like those who have made up this team of explorers is vital to be more aware that the Earth is the most precious asset and we must take care of it as such.
WITH AN EYE ON THE FUTURE
The Wind Sled project is already a reality, but without a doubt it seeks to be the future of polar research and exploration worldwide. This unprecedented expedition in which Uller has had the great fortune to participate, equipping all the members with the best protection, will soon become a documentary that is sure to impress us.
As a team, we could draw a large number of positive conclusions: that there is strength in unity, for example. However, as people too. And it is that you never know what a dream you had as a child can become. You never know what life can bring you, and yet we faithfully follow the path we are following - sometimes without really knowing how - and we managed to turn those dreams we had as children into reality. And hopefully we never forget that we are capable.