email a friend iconprinter friendly iconBest of Adventure 2008
Page [ 7 ] of 10
Sarah + Eric McNair-Landry: Arctic Royalty
Riding the wind over the Greenland Ice Sheet

When you grow up with renowned Arctic guides for parents, with all of Baffin Island as your playground, a team of sled dogs at your disposal, and a tangle of snow kites in the garage, you are bound for big things. So when Sarah McNair-Landry, 21, and her brother, Eric, 23, along with their friend Curtis Jones, 30, decided to snowkite some 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) across the Greenland Ice Sheet—that's Boston to Miami on an uninterrupted sea of ice—no one was surprised. In awe? Now that's another matter.

As the children of Paul Landry and Matty McNair (who herself was an Adventurer of the Year in 2006), Sarah and Eric were practically raised on expeditions. By the time they set out for the Ice Sheet this summer, Sarah had already been to two poles, Eric to one, and both were veterans of two previous trips to Greenland. But this time, says Eric, "We wanted to do something that was long and challenging and would really push the limits." Try hiking four days from the ocean up mountains and across crevasses, dragging 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of equipment apiece. And that's just to where the team could start kiting. Then it was six weeks of whipping across the ice at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kmh). In one amazing run they covered 256 miles (412 kilometers) in 24 continuous hours. "Our stomachs hurt from the vibrations," says Eric.

To most, such a remarkable journey would be a means to equally remarkable ends, a "first" of sorts. But Sarah and Eric claim not to be motivated by records (though, incidentally, they did grab two: They're the first brother-sister team to cross the Ice Sheet, and Sarah is the youngest to do a south-to-north traverse). Instead, Sarah insists, the goal was to inspire the next generation of explorers. "You get youth outside and get them active and they start to appreciate the environment and care for it," she says. There is no record more worthy than that.

Next: Tim Cope: Horse Whisperer

Page [ 7 ] of 10
Join the discussion

National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article. Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Recent Comments
  • No comments have been posted