Matakana man conquers Greenland

John Gluckman never doubted himself in his quest to cross Greenland.

Matakana adventurer John Gluckman has added another notch to his belt after crossing Greenland – the largest island in the world.

John was a member of a six-man party, plus two dog handlers, that completed the crossing in 24 days in late May. The trip involved cross country skiing and dog sledding across 370km, sleeping in a tent at night and dealing with temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.

“The temperature and visibility in the snow proved a real challenge so it was a great moment to reach the other side,” John, 67, says. “I’ve climbed the highest mountain in Greenland, so I do know the country and its climate.”

John is no stranger to epic challenges having climbed the tallest mountain on every continent and run a marathon in every continent.

Trip organiser, Polar Explorers, rates crossing Greenland on a par with crossing Antarctica.

“When you had a whiteout and strong head winds it got really tough. It felt like your head was stuck inside a large ping-pong ball,” John says.

“The warmest it got to was about minus 5 degrees Celsius and dropped to as low as minus 30 degrees.

You needed to dress up warm, but avoid sweating too much, as you can get a wind chill with moisture under your clothing.”

The group had a tough start to the trip when the 32 huskies, being airlifted from the east coast, were delayed by eight days.

John Gluckman has conquered another adventure.

“We were forced to set up camp and had to build a barrier out of snow to protect our tents against the conditions.

“Everyone got on really well, which was good, and we had a great mix of people from a 65-year-old, who had undergone a heart transplant, to a former British SAS Major.”

During the trip, the group stopped at an old United States missile detection station, abandoned 30 years ago.

John says he doesn’t know when his next trip will be, but is staying fit for when the next opportunity arises.

“As long as you can look after yourself, you are never too old to take on a challenge like this one.”


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