As we pause to reflect on the first leg of the Pole to Pole EV Expedition, which took us from the 1823 Magnetic North Pole location through to Yellowknife, Canada, we would like to delve deeper into our experiences and share the insights we gained along the way. Our journey was a true test of resilience, determination, and passion, and we hope that by sharing our story, we can inspire others to pursue their own dreams and make a positive impact on the world.
Arriving at the 1823 Magnetic North Pole location was a monumental milestone in the Pole to Pole EV Expedition. After coming up with the idea over five years ago, our long-awaited journey was finally underway. However, we had little time to soak in the magnitude of our accomplishment. The rapidly melting ice road meant that once we reached our start location we had to quickly turn back and make our way to safety, leaving us with a bittersweet taste of success.
Now, with some time and distance to reflect, we realise how truly incredible our achievement is. We were the first ever people to reach the 1823 Magnetic North Pole location in an electric vehicle, and we did so while facing numerous challenges and setbacks. In hindsight, we are amazed and inspired by our own resilience and determination, qualities that will continue to drive us forward as we embark on the next leg of our journey.
Unexpected Challenges in a Challenging Terrain
The Arctic is an unforgiving and treacherous place, and our journey was fraught with unexpected challenges and obstacles. We faced numerous setbacks and delays, from equipment malfunctions to unpredictable weather conditions. Yet, with each hurdle, we learned valuable lessons and adapted our approach, always keeping our end goal in mind.
The terrain was particularly challenging, with vast expanses of ice, snow, and rugged landscapes. Navigating this environment required skill, patience, and an unyielding determination to succeed. To give some perspective, the journey from Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife involved crossing sea ice, mountains, lakes, narrow rock valleys and rock boulder fields. No vehicles drive this stretch of land. There are no roads and no routes or trails. As a team, we were literally forging our own path across this unforgiving landscape.
We relied heavily on the expertise of the Arctic Trucks team, who provided invaluable guidance and support throughout the journey. Their knowledge of the region helped us overcome the many obstacles we faced. When we spoke to local Canadians and explained to them where we have driven from and shown them the route, they all cannot believe that a car, let alone an electric car has managed to cross this section of land and survived to tell the tale.
One such challenge was the need to conserve battery range in our electric vehicle. The harsh conditions and non-existent infrastructure meant that we had to be strategic in our energy consumption, often sacrificing creature comforts like heating to ensure that we could maximise the use of each percent of battery range, ensuring our vehicle could complete the journey. In essence this meant driving in anywhere up to -39 degrees with no heating for long stretches of the journey. The result was that the interior of the car would often completely freeze up and we were having to scrape the ice off the inside of the windows regularly just to try and see outside.
Trying to stay warm, we wore extra clothing, we had on our big parka jackets, woolie hats and our big arctic mittens. However, trust us when we say that no matter how many layers you put on, your hands and feet cannot escape the cold and the extreme pain and discomfort this caused.
It was our choice to not use the heating in the car to maximise the use of every percentage of battery we had. We were pushing the car to its absolute limits and taking it to new extremes as we needed to cover as much distance as possible due to the rapidly melting ice road.
On the topic of extreme cold, the battery did experience challenges. The extreme cold impacted the speed of charging and the amount of charge the battery would take on. This however was something we knew would likely happen, and after trialling various ideas in the field we were able to overcome most of this impact.
Despite the freezing temperatures, we never lost sight of our mission to demonstrate the capabilities of electric vehicles in extreme environments. And hey, the car went above and beyond our wildest imaginations, making the journey with only one minor accident (due to a rock hidden under the deep snow of all things) across the vast stretch of the Arctic tundra. The rock sheared the inner steering rack.
We as team were all amazed at how well the Ariya performed and surprised that it didn’t encounter one breakdown given the brutal punishment it endured crossing the terrains. We cannot emphasise enough just how much of beating this car took. This is a huge testament to the Nissan Ariya, it’s components and its electric drive train system.
The Spirit of Human Connection
Throughout our Arctic adventure, we were consistently reminded of the vital role that human connection plays in overcoming adversity. The Arctic Trucks team became an integral part of our journey. Their passion for exploration mirrored our own, and the bonds we forged with them proved to be essential to our success.
Their unwavering support, expertise, and camaraderie carried us through some of our most challenging moments. In addition to the Arctic Trucks team, we also encountered many locals in Cambridge Bay who welcomed us into their community with open arms.
Their encouragement and support reinforced our sense of purpose and reminded us that we are part of a global community.
The kindness and generosity of the people who have supported us along the way will forever be etched in our memories. Their stories and experiences will continue to inspire us as we embark on the next leg of our journey, carrying with us the invaluable lessons we’ve learned and the connections we’ve made in the Arctic.
Polar Bears in the Polar Regions
One of the most unforgettable moments of our journey was our encounter with a polar bear in its natural habitat. This majestic creature captivated us with its beauty and grace. Watching the polar bear from a far was an exhilarating experience that left a permanent mark on our hearts.
As we observed the polar bear roaming across the ice, we were struck by the magnificence of this animal and its incredible adaptation to the Arctic environment. This encounter served as a reminder of the wonders of the natural world and the incredible experiences that await us when we step out of our comfort zones and embark on adventures into the unknown.
Our once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the polar bear has only deepened our appreciation for the breath-taking beauty of the Arctic and the amazing creatures that call it home.
Embracing the Winds of Change
Many of you have been curious about our wind turbine trailer and its role in our Arctic adventure. Due to a combination of factors, including a lack of wind, schedule delays and the early closure of the ice road, we made the tough decision to leave the trailer behind for parts of our journey, namely the 1823 Magnetic North Pole location drive and the drive from Cambridge Bay to Yellowknife.
Interestingly, Cambridge Bay had been experiencing extreme winds for an extended period before our arrival, but the wind died down the day before we got there and typically it picked back up again two days after we left. There are some things we can control on the expedition, but we cannot control Mother Nature.
The main goal of our expedition has always been to showcase the potential of electric vehicles in the harshest environments, by traveling from Pole to Pole. The wind turbine element was our attempt to innovate and test a prototype solution along the way, aiming to generate at least some energy from renewable sources to charge the car. The Arctic leg provided valuable insights into what worked and what needs improvement before we take on Antarctica. In the meantime, we’ll continue our journey through the Americas, visiting renewable energy sites to power our car with clean energy whenever possible.
This experience has been an immense learning opportunity for us. It’s essential to recognise and accept when things don’t go as planned so that we can regroup, learn, and make the necessary changes to create a successful solution. Innovation is rarely a smooth journey, but we’re more determined than ever to continue pushing the boundaries of sustainable travel and exploring renewable energy solutions.
The Journey Ahead
With the Arctic leg of our journey behind us, we now look forward to the next chapter of the Pole to Pole EV Expedition. As we travel through Canada and beyond, we are excited to continue spreading our message of sustainability and the potential of electric vehicles.
We plan to meet and engage with locals in various communities along our route and sharing our experiences from the Arctic. We hope that by sharing our story, we can inspire others to consider more eco-friendly modes of transportation and help create a more sustainable future for all.
In addition to sharing our message, we look forward to exploring the diverse landscapes and cultures that await us on the remainder of our expedition. We are eager to learn from the people we meet and absorb the wisdom and knowledge they have to offer. We know that our journey will continue to challenge us, but we are ready to face whatever obstacles lie ahead, armed with the lessons we learned in the Arctic and the support of the incredible people we have met along the way.
In conclusion, our Arctic adventure has been a life-changing experience, filled with incredible highs and challenging lows. We have been humbled by the beauty and power of nature, inspired by the resilience and determination of the human spirit, and strengthened by the bonds of friendship and camaraderie we have forged along the way.
As we continue on the Pole to Pole EV Expedition, we carry with us the memories, lessons, and insights from our time in the Arctic, using them as a source of inspiration and motivation for the journey ahead. We remain committed to our mission of promoting sustainable travel and exploring the limits of electric vehicles, and we look forward to sharing our story with the world.
Lastly, we want to share a huge thank you to all our current sponsors, partners and individuals who have kindly donated and contributed to date. We could not do this without you.
Here’s to the rest of our expedition, fuelled by discovery and a drive (literally!) to make a positive impact on the planet.
Let’s do this,
Chris and Julie Ramsey