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In April 2019, Hazel and Luke will be undertaking a month-long ski expedition in Sápmi, high above the Arctic circle in the Finnmark area of northern Norway.
Through Arctic Connections, Hazel and Luke will seek to understand the impact that climate breakdown and industrial development of the Arctic is having on the people and the biodiversity of this unique landscape, by focusing on the complex array of opportunities and challenges these issues bring. They want to share the stories and give louder voices to the people who are experiencing these changes and feeling their effects the most.
LIVE TRACKING MAP
A key part of this expedition, will see Hazel and Luke interview members of the indigenous Sámi community (including the Norwegian Sámi President Ms. Aiki Keskitalo) to better understand the challenges and pressures that the people, and the ancient practice of reindeer husbandry, face. These interviews, as well as the expedition itself will form the basis for a documentary film to help diffuse knowledge, experiences and stories from this Arctic region with others.
The annual spring migration of Arctic reindeer from feeding grounds in South Finnmark to birthing grounds in the northern tip of Scandinavia is one of nature’s greatest events. To this day, some of the Sámi people are reliant on the reindeer for the existence of their culture, but this is under threat. To understand more, Hazel and Luke will shadow a family of reindeer herders on the annual spring reindeer migration from their winter feeding grounds in southern Finnmark to their coastal summer pastures along Norway’s Northern Arctic coast, to better understand the changes being witnessed.
‘Arctic Connections’ will tell this story of endurance, resilience and respect - and a unique symbiotic relationship...
Part of Arctic Connections will include a long distance ski expedition from Alta to Karasjok, before following the reindeer migration on skis. By doing so, Hazel and Luke will be undertaking an endurance expedition of their own; with daily lives stripped back to basics, they’ll make their own connection with the natural world as they cross the Finnmarksvidda - Norway’s largest plateau - which covers 36% of the broader Finnmark region. When travelling long distances on these frozen expanses, success is dependent on shared goals. This will be true as much for Hazel and Luke, as for the Sámi, and their reindeer.
Royal Scottish Geographical Society
Hazel and Luke are honoured and humbled to be Explorers in Residence for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. The society is one the UK’s most dynamic small charities, whose aim is to advance the subject of geography (in its widest sense) worldwide, inspire people to learn more about the world around them and provide a source of reliable and impartial geographical information. Hazel and Luke regularly provide talks, expedition training and blogs for the society.
The role of Explorer in Residence was introduced in 2014, by the CEO Mike Robinson, in order to recognise the role that exploration still plays in inspiring people about the world around them. The aim is to excite people about the world’s physical and cultural variety, to awaken people’s personal potential and better inform them about global issues
The RSGS has an incredibly rich history of association with many of the most influential names in exploration of the last 150 years. It was founded by David Livingstone’s daughter, Agnes, Ernest Shackleton worked for the society and William Speirs Bruce, who was a council member, led the first Scottish Antarctic expedition in 1902.
Scottish Arctic Club
Hazel and Luke are both members of the Scottish Arctic Club and are extremely grateful to be supported by them for this expedition. The Club contains a group of enthusiasts with a common interest in the Arctic and was founded in 1970.
The club wishes to encourage younger members, and in 1995 it set up an Expedition Fund to provide small grants to young people wishing to travel in the Arctic. Hazel and Luke will be speaking about their expedition at the 2019 Annual Gathering and Supper.
The Polar Academy
Hazel and Luke are Ambassadors for the Polar Academy, which identifies ‘invisible’ 14-17 years old secondary school children, crushed by a lack of self-esteem and gives them the chance to redefine their physical and mental limits.
Participants are put through a rigorous ten-month training programme before being immersed in the wilds of Greenland, navigating through some of the world’s remotest terrain for ten days. Their confidence soars with every step. On their return to Scotland, each pupil shares their experiences with their peer groups, speaking to more than 20,000 school children in their region.
The Polar Academy has been very generous in their support of this expedition through lending of equipment.
Luke and Hazel have used TentMeals on expeditions ever since they discovered them in 2016. Delicious, vegan, lightweight, nutritious and with minimal packaging, these meals will be fuelling them in the Arctic again this year.
The Arctic Club
Hazel and Luke are delighted and hugely appreciative of support for this expedition from the Arctic Club, through the Gino Watkins Memorial Fund, under the joint trusteeship of the University of Cambridge (through the Scott Polar Research Institute) and the Royal Geographical Society.
The Fund gives grants towards expeditions that meet its objectives of guiding and inspiring enterprising young people towards scientific research and exploration in the polar regions.
The Fund endeavours to increase our knowledge of one of the least known, but most important parts, of our planet, and also to stimulate the lasting qualities of enterprise, endurance and leadership gained in this uniquely arduous environment.
The Fund was set up in 1933 in the memory of Henry George ("Gino") Watkins who had drowned, whilst kayaking, off the coast of East Greenland the previous summer. Its purpose is to inspire and guide enterprising, particularly young, people towards exploration and research in the polar regions.