In The Face Of Snow

In The Face Of Snow

The Greenland sledge dog is a work animal, able to traverse difficult terrain with ease at a quick pace. Greenland being the least densely populated country in the world, transport by dog sledge is far more practical than by snowmobile over long distances. It's not really convenient to bring tons of extra fuel (or dog food) along, so on longer expeditions the expectation is to hunt along the way in order to feed the dogs.

My expedition was relatively short at just two full days. I traveled with a local Greenlander and his pack of 13 sledge dogs. Accompanying us were two more local drivers leading two Italian tourists. When we came upon a fishing site sans fisherman, we found a number of scrap skate fish and parts left behind. The drivers went through some of the scraps, carving off the meaty parts to later feed the dogs with.

Greenland dogs have been used in some famous polar expeditions, as they were prized for being the best sled dogs, and more reliable than other means of transportation in the harsh climate. Famed Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen chose 97 Greenland dogs to accompany him and his team on his expedition to the South Pole. That many dogs weren't really needed, but the intent was to feed the weaker dogs to the stronger ones during the voyage.

Amundsen's expedition became the first to reach the South Pole on December 14th, 1911. He beat Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Expedition by five weeks. The race to the South Pole is an intriguing story that captivates the spirit of exploration as well as its dangers (Scott would die on his return journey).

A Greenland dog dashing through the snow.