National Geographic : 1995 Jan
has plunged to 90F-danger ously low. "Bring him here," calls a nurse, who submerges Manuel in a tub of warm water to thaw him out. Then she buries him in blan kets. Within an hour he begins to recover. The immediate crisis is past. The accident shakes Manuel's confidence, however. He does not want to return to the water right away. It's a blow to my confidence as well. We have only begun our long journey. For a few tense days in Qeqertarsuaq I wonder if our dream is over. TEN WEEKS BEFORE, on June 16, 1990, after four months of train ing, we'd set out from the town of Narsarsuaq, 750 miles away, near the southern tip of Green land. Along with two other team mates-Antonio Martinez and Rafael Peche-Manuel and I planned to make a three-year, 8,400-mile trip from Greenland through Alaska (map, below). We weren't trying to set any records, only to gain a better understanding of northern ways. Our plan was for me to make the whole journey, while Manuel, or Manolo as he is called, would accompany me for most of the first year and again briefly at the end of the third. Antonio, a mountaineer and caver who had impulsively left a promising business to be part of the group, would join me for the last two years. Rafael, a streetwise photography student, would drop in from time to time to film the trip. Among us city slickers-all from Madrid and all in our 20s I had the most Arctic experience, having taken part in expeditions across Iceland and Greenland. But even I didn't know much Traversing the Arctic Running out of supplies, the expeditionhad no choice during one stage of the 8,400-mile journey but to change course to search for food. "We thought we were doing everything right," says Larramendi(above), "but we nearly starved."