At the expense of the wind through Greenland

At the expense of the wind through Greenland

Marisol Garmendia, Juan Ignacio Asensio and Juan Manuel Sotillos at the presentation of the project. / michelena

The SOS Arctic expedition, led by the explorer Ramón Larramendi and Juan Manuel Sotillos, will carry out a study of the Arctic ice in a kite-powered sled

An adventure in the Arctic and an environmental mission. With these ingredients, the SOS Arctic project will start on Tuesday the 26th of this month, the first polar expedition that will travel 1,500 kilometers in Greenland only at the expense of the wind, thanks to a kite-driven sled that will complete the journey with zero emissions. The adventure has the experience of Ramón Larramendi, with roots from Donostia and settled in Reykjavik for two years, and the participation of Juan Manuel Sotillos, from Gipuzkoa. The Provincial Council of Guipúzcoa, the City Council of San Sebastián and the sports company 'Ternua' collaborate in the financing.

The expedition, presented this Friday in the Gipuzkoan capital, is a pioneer in many aspects, both scientific and technological. Let's go by parts.

The SOS Arctic 2022 project aims to “take ice samples in different areas of the Arctic at different elevations. Our purpose is to carry out a subsequent study of the microorganisms found in these areas, ”Larramendi and Sotillos explained this Friday.

An expert on polar lands, an explorer and a polar adventurer, Larramendi highlighted in the presentation that “the Arctic is probably ground zero for climate change. It is evident that a reduction in the thickness of the ice sheet is taking place, which will cause the rise in sea level worldwide with the consequences that will be generated. In addition, permafrost, the frozen land that is being exposed by melting, releases more greenhouse gases, which accelerates climate change.


  • SOS Arctic 2022.
    Ramón Larramendi will lead the expedition, which will include Juan Manuel Sotillos, Lucia Hortal, Begoña Hernández, Carlos Pitarch and Marcus Tobia.

  • Date.
    The expedition members will travel from East to West 1,500 kilometers from April 26 to June 15.

  • Goal.
    Environmental study.

These are just two of the consequences of climate change which, as Larramendi insisted, "what happens in the Arctic, although it is so far away for us, also affects Spain". To the Gipuzkoan institutions are added many others from all over Spain and companies, among which is 'Ternua'.

We are facing a sustainable expedition in which there is a clear commitment to zero pollution. To carry out the adventure that will last about two months, Larramendi will travel in a 'catamaran-sled' that will navigate through the white ice cap thanks to the push of the wind. The sled will have 250-square-meter kites, which will be in charge of moving the three or four bases where the expedition members will carry between 2,200-2,400 kilos of technological and scientific material, in addition to what Larramendi and the other five expedition members will need. Among them is Sotillos, a mountaineer and the first Basque to successfully cross the North Magnetic Pole (Latitude 79 or 20»). Together with Larramendi and Sotillos, the chemist Lucía Hortal, the polarist and environmentalist Begoña Hernández, the mountaineer Carlos Pitarch and the Venezuelan mountaineer and explorer Marcus Tobia will undertake the adventure.

From East to West

SOS Artic will be a pioneering expedition in many aspects, as Sotillos explained in the presentation of the project. “It will be the first time Greenland has been traversed from west to east. To do this, from Nassarsuaq, the starting point, we will move north in order to catch the winds that will lead us to our destination.

Sotillos highlighted the adventurous spirit of the expedition, without forgetting the "scientific, technical and environmental side of it". The Basque mountaineer recognized that "it will be a challenge for everyone, but in addition to the important scientific value for the work in collecting microorganisms, it will involve a study on the use of the wind in the sled in which we will travel during the 1,500-kilometre journey" .

To this, we must add "the adventure of working and traveling at twenty degrees below zero," recalled Sotillos, who, as he explained, "we will try to reflect each day of the expedition and report the details of it online, if technology allows us to do so." It allows". What he did say is that "after the trip, we will carry out the disclosure of everything we have experienced in Greenland, another of the purposes of this pioneering project that we will embark on shortly."

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