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GEM profs inspire historic cross-country ski trip

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Anders looking lean and meanThough we can’t know for sure, at this moment Anders Morley is most likely on skis, or in a tent, somewhere in the British Columbia interior. In November 2012 Morley embarked on trip that takes the concept of cross-country skiing to a literal extreme. This winter he plans to ski from British Columbia to Quebec in a project he calls, Big Ski. The journey will take stamina, courage and a little inspiration from scientists at the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment.

The trip will take between four and five months and cover close to 4,500 kilometres, making it the first crossing of North America of its kind and the second-longest trip ever made on skis. According to Morley, “I am interested not so much in distance or endurance as in seeing the country slowly and immersing myself in winter.”

Knowing he was to be spending so much time in the frozen wilds, Morley turned to The Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (CCIN), and in particular the work of Ellsworth LeDrew, Richard Kelly and Claude Duguay in the department of Geography and Environmental Management to help him plan a route through the potentially treacherous Canadian cryosphere – the sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, frozen ground, and glaciers that make up a large part of this country’s winter ecosystem.

“I used the CCIN website to trace snowfall trends. This was crucial in planning my route and deciding which direction to travel in,” says Morely. “I felt so grateful to the folks who put the site together that I decided I would contact them to ask if I could do anything for them, since it's not every day you find someone who is going to be basically outside at all hours for an entire winter.”

LeDrew and his colleagues at the CCIN were happy to have the help and have given Morley a few tasks to complete while on his journey.

“I am going to be measuring snow depth and making observations about how snow is distributed differently in areas in close proximity to each other,” says Morley. “What I'll be asking, for instance… is the snow as deep on the lake as it in the meadow and in the forest? Also, though I won't be able to measure ice thickness, I will be making general observations concerning lake-ice cover.”

Anyone interested in tracking Morely’s progress can follow him on his Big Ski website. He has a blog and an embedded map showing his progress and his expected route.

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