[ethereal music] [loud bang, ice cracking] Oh, I don't likethe look of this at all.
I'm Steve Backshall, a naturalist and explorer.
I'm in Greenland, one of the wildest and most remote countrieson the planet.
And way up insidethe Arctic Circle, this place is whatadventures are made of.
But this is an environmentin flux.
We're in very real dangerof getting trapped here.
I'm attempting to kayak upthe largest fjord in the world, with an expert teamof Arctic explorers.
[Aldo] We're going a long waythe wrong way.
This gruelling expeditionwill push us to our physical limit.
through treacherous waters, littered withunpredictable sea ice.
You just don't want to getcaught in here, do you? This is a pioneering journey.
possible now for the first timein human history.
It's a journey that could shedlight on our changing world.
-[men shouting]-Go on! [banging and shouting] He looks like he's coming back.
[wind gusts] Greenland is a placeof superlatives.
It's the world's largest island, the least populated countryon Earth.
There is no ice cap biggerthan the Greenland one outside of Antarctica.
I've come to a vast inlet onGreenland's remote east coast.
Carved by glaciers, it's known as a fjord.
It's litteredwith chunks of ice.
broken remnants left behind as the solid winter sea icemelted and broke up.
Our kayak expeditionwill take us through this ever-shifting sea ice, until we reachthe solid ice edge.
Something no one hasever attempted before.
[helicopter blades whirr] This expedition will take usright to the heart of one of the remotest and mostinhospitable places on Earth.
of one of the remotest and mostinhospitable places on Earth.
I'm starting here atthe only town on the fjord, Ittoqqortoormiit.
Home to fewer than 400 people, this is officially the most remote settlementin the western world.
And this is just the startof our journey.
[giggling] This is a land of extremes.
In winter, temperaturesare well below freezing.
And in summer, the sun doesn'tset for two months of the year.
To attempt an expeditionin such extremes, I'm bringing togethera world-class team of Arctic explorers.
Sarah McNair-Landryis a polar adventurer who's been to both poles and crossed the Greenlandice cap six times.
Personally, I'm reallyexcited about this area, cos I've spent a lot of timein Greenland but mostly on the ice cap, kite-skiing and skiing.
And a lot of time onthe west coast of Greenland, but this is a totallynew area for me.
Martin Rickard has kayaked over1, 100 kilometres in sea ice.
His knowledge of safelynavigating the Arctic is second to none.
It's managing the riskof the ice and the weather, and then the effect that theweather and the tide will have on that ice and how itcan move very dramatically.
Block us off, trap boats.
It could blow us allout to sea quite quickly if weren't on our game.
So, it should be fun.
-What do you think of this then?-Yeah! Looks good.
The final memberof the team to arrive is my good friend Aldo Kane.
Dude! He's a former Royal Marine andwill be our safety expertand medic.
[Aldo] This thing is wonderful.
I've never been to Greenland.
I've wanted to come here since I was, honestly, about that size.
We're bringing incamping kit and supplies, as well as ourprecious sea kayaks.
Actually, quite nervy moments.
That up there is the crutchof our whole expedition.
If they break, we're done.
I've chosen sea kayaksas our best option for travelling up the fjord.
They can be packed with kitand, most importantly, squeezed through the narrowestof gaps in the broken ice.
Yeah, first one.
They all look pretty good.
[Sarah] Yeah, we have boats! We're packing everything we needto survive for just over a week.
Easier said than done.
It's kind of like, you lookat the volume of kit that'sgot to go in the boat.
You look at the space you've gotand they don't corollate at all.
While the kayaksare being packed, Sarah and I are going to tryand get a look at our route.
[dogs barking] We're taking the traditionalInuit mode of transport.
Local dog-sledder Aqqalu has offered to take usto a vantage point, where we hope to geta view over the fjord.
Nice to meet you, Aqqalu.
[Sarah] Word usedfor “left” and “right”? To turn.
-Iju? Iju, iju.
[laughter] The Inuit have used dogs to pullsleds for over 4, 000 years.
These hardy animals made traveland hunting in the Arcticpossible, allowing humansto make a home here.
We've popped upabove the clouds.
It's what's knownas an inversion, where the temperature gradientbetween up and down switches, so all the cloudsform below you.
It's ridiculously beautiful.
But, actually, it's exactlywhat we didn't want, cos you can't see the seaat all.
-What do you reckon?-Not much of a view up here.
-It looks brilliant to me! [they laugh] So out there is the sea andover there is where we're going.
Hidden beneath the cloudsand stretching inland for over 300 kilometres is the longest fjord systemon the planet.
is the longest fjord systemon the planet.
Satellite images showthat this year, the winter sea ice has broken upearly than ever before.
To reach the solid ice, we will have to kayakover 70 kilometres through treacherous, ever-shifting ice.
I want to see first-handhow this early break-up is affecting the wildlifeand the people.
For Aqqalu and for everyonewho lives in Ittoqqortoormiit, the lack of ice is threateningtheir very way of life.
Is this the earliestbreak-up you've seen? Yeah.
[Sarah] And how does thataffect hunting? Does it make it harderto come out here? -Yeah.
-To hunt? [Steve] So maybe ten years ago, our expedition would beimpossible.
You'd not be able to kayakdown into the fjord.
And now, what do you think? Back in Ittoqqortoormiit, and with the kayaks packed, we're ready to launchinto the fjord.
We've got so much gearthat we need a front-loader to haul it down.
[Steve] After years of dreaming, months of planning, finally we have a chanceto get on the water.
Right now, it's.
And we just have to pray that the wind and the weatherstays with us.
We've tried to think throughevery eventuality.
It's always a bit of a concernwhat you do when you'reout on the water and you need to, er.
Well, you know.
So I've come up witha little system.
Which is this, whichI'm going to strap to my leg.
What could possibly go wrong? Oh, no! It's gota massive hole in it! All my grand plans and my peebag has got a massive hole! -Oh, thank goodness I found it.
-[laughter] [Aldo] I'm kind of a little bitgutted that you did find it.
We have three larger boats, which will carry the filmcrew and their equipment.
If these boats can'tmake it through the ice, we'll be on our own.
we'll be on our own.
And on-board cameraswill record our every move.
Today, we're aiming for anabandoned hunting settlement, 12 kilometres away, called Kap Hope.
Our local boat captain, Johan, thinks we can spendour first night there.
-[Martin] Happy? Angel?-[woman] Yup, got it.
[Martin] I'll bring upthe rear, yeah.
[Steve] Best practice is for usto be quite close together, certainly within visual distanceof each other at all times.
And if I'm gettingtoo far ahead, then you guys need to shout me.
Kayaking is all about balance, keeping your weight centralso as not to capsize, while driving the boatforwards with your paddle.
[loud bang, ice cracking] The air temperatureis well below freezing and the sea is turningto ice around us.
[Steve]The second anyone capsizes, goes over, comesout of their boat, it's going to become a survivalsituation instantaneously.
This ice may look harmless.
But stealthily and menacingly, it moves.
Some chunks are largerthan football fields and weigh thousands of tonnes.
Pushed by the wind and pulled bythe ebb and flow of the tides, they could easily crush a kayak.
I don't think there's anywhereelse on Earth where you feel quite so small, quite so vulnerable and quite so muchlike the environment is the master of you.
See, that's a classic exampleof what's closed up -since they've gone through.
Sarah and I make it through, but just behind usthe ice has already closed in.
-What's that?-They're really stuck.
That's closed up already.
I don't know if you canpush it out the way.
[grunts] It just completely, uh, -closed up again.
-[Sarah] Yeah, I saw that.
[sighs] We've travelled just a fewhundred metres from town and we're already gettinga sense of how challenging this trip will be.
Are you guysall right behind me? [Sarah hesitantly] Y-Yup.
That didn't soundvery convinced.
[Sarah] These guys are justa little stuck over here.
Shall I wait? [Sarah] Maybe justhold up for a sec.
[Aldo] It's amazing how quicklyit sets in round about you.
[Sarah] I know, it moves.
Aldo's through, but Martin's not so lucky.
He needs to use his ice axeto drag himself, inch by inch.
That's why everyoneneeded an axe.
The shifting ice stretchesahead as far as we can see.
We're hugging the shorelinewhere we can, but every paddle stroke istaking us further from help and deeper into the unknown.
After pushing through the icefor six hours, we've finally broken outinto open water.
Yeah! That's more like it! But the satisfaction ofclocking up some kilometres is tinged witha sense of unease.
[Steve] We were planningthis expedition months ago and said to ourselves, “Well, our gamble is thatbecause of climate change, the fjord is going to be open much earlier than it ever hasbeen before in human history.
” And we were right.
And while that's given us theopportunity to do something that no one's done before, it's not actually somethingthat gives us great joy.
The melt is happeningall around us.
Even the solid ice, which we're trying to reach, is melting furtherwith every day that passes.
We're kayaking towardsan ever-shifting goal.
[Aldo] Are your feetice blocks? [Steve] Absolutely frozen solid.
After ten hours of paddling, we've made it to Kap Hope.
Cold and exhausted, we head to the shore.
So eerie seeinga ghost town like that kind of looming outthrough the mist, isn't it? [Aldo] Mmm.
[Sarah] I thinkit was an old community and now it's justhunting cabins.
This is us! The last residentsof this hunting community left 18 years ago, when the demandfor seal skins fell away.
We need to find somewhereto spend the night.
[Aldo] Steve! It looks like a bit of a bothy, doesn't it? I kind of expect to see white tape in the shapeof a person on the ground.
That's not the atmospherichunting hut I was thinking of.
Wherever I lay my hat.
[Steve] It's got a roof, it's got walls.
So, yeah, it's home.
At this time of year, the sun never sets.
But it's beena full day of paddling, and by nine o'clock, we're all in bed.
Today's paddle has the potentialto test all of us to our limits.
We have a huge inlet to cross, ten kilometres wide and packedwith slabs of broken ice.
We'll be paddling farfrom the safety of shore, and if the wind picks up, we could easily getpushed out to sea.
There is a big, thicklayer of ice ahead of us, which looks quite intimidatingand might be impenetrable.
But we just have to goand have a look, check it out up close and seeif we can push through it.
Yesterday's paddle gave usa taste of how quickly the ice can move.
Today, venturingfurther from the coast, the winds and tideswill be stronger.
[Sarah] If the wind picks up, this ice could startdrifting really fast.
It could be drifting out fasterthan we can paddle backto shore.
This whole environment, even though it lookscompletely motionless, it's always changing, always moving, and you just never knowwhat's going to happen next.
If this started to closein on you, you'd be inso much trouble.
We push on into thicker sea ice and the filming boats follow.
[Steve] Oh, oops! Oh, this doesn't look good.
We can't go that way.
We'll have to turn around.
We're in very real dangerof getting trapped here.
It's impossibleto see past the ice.
We need to get out to scanfor a way through.
The ice is unstable.
But we need to findthe route ahead.
That does not look good.
It's a blank expanse of ice.
The only thing I can think ofreally is sending up the drone.
Just flying it good and high and using that as a wayto try and spot the way.
With 100 metres of elevation, we can see there are waterchannels in the broken ice.
But we need to move quicklybefore they close up.
Everything herelooks the exact same.
[Steve] Yeah, it's so easyto lose your bearings.
Which direction would you saywe're heading right now? I think we're, uh.
heading out west and then.
But, ideally, we need to becutting north-east, don't we? [Steve] To get back to land, yeah, we do.
The shifting ice has forced usto paddle way off course.
We're now six kilometresfrom land and water channels are closingquicker than we can paddlethrough them.
It's already startedto close in behind us.
[Steve] We need to get outof here as quick as we can.
I've pushed on ahead.
but the ice has closed inall around me.
Oh, I don't like the lookof this at all.
[Martin] Can you.
Can you see, Steve, there? [Aldo] Can you see Steve? [Sarah] I can see his paddle.
I'm separated fromthe rest of the team.
There's just no way on.
Every single time I paddle, it turns into a blind alley and you're stuck.
And now I also have no way.
How am I going to get back? [Aldo] Steve is on the otherside of this ice here.
But the general flow -it's all going that way.
That's 180 degreesfrom where we want to go.
We're going a long waythe wrong way.
This isn't cool, is it? As the hours have passed, the tide and windhave started to move the ice.
Our worst fearsare becoming a reality.
We're being taken awayfrom shore and out to sea.
We need to get back together andfind a way out of the ice, fast.
[Aldo] Do you guys want to trypushing through on your boat? [Aldo] Do you guys want to trypushing through on your boat? The filming boats have managedto stay with us and Johan, the driver, tries toforce a passage through the ice.
He manages to open a channel.
and we're reunited.
You might want to have to powerthrough these before they close.
Oh, I think I see open water! Massive area of open water.
[Sarah] Yes! We can see open sea ahead, which is good, but we're stilla long ways off the coast.
We're about five kilometresfrom where we want to be.
But it's a nice sightto see the open ocean.
Open sea! Is that evera sight for sore eyes.
We're worn out after seven hourson the freezing water.
We need an easy landing spot sowe can make camp for the night.
Whoa! I thinkwe're in luck, mate.
I think we are, too.
Look at that.
Right, this lead istaking us all the way in.
All that's missingis a red carpet.
-[Sarah] And the margarita.
-And the margarita.
This will be our first nightunder canvas and we won't have the safetyof last night's hut.
We need to be vigilant.
Everyone keep their eyes openfor bears.
Polar bears are a carnivore that will occasionallyhunt down and kill humans.
As the sun skirts the horizon, we sleep in shifts.
each of us taking turn to scanfor the Arctic's top predator.
It's four in the morning and, uh, I'm takingmy shift on bear watch.
The whole midnight sun thing could reallymess with your mind.
The fact that for three monthsof the year, the sun never rises here and then through the springand the summer it never sets.
It's bitterly cold.
Well, we haven'tseen a bear yet.
Well, we haven'tseen a bear yet.
But they're definitely out there and their sense of smellis extraordinary.
So our camp with the foodwill attract bears from miles and miles away.
The fact of the matter is, this is an animal that will attackand kill human beings.
Our bear deterrents – we have flares that wecan fire at a bear, bear spray, which is a kindof paper spray, like mace.
If none of those work, then we have rifles.
You know, none of us even wantto consider using one of those.
Let's just hopeit doesn't come to that.
It's been a long night, but bear watch wasn't the onlything disturbing our sleep.
Thank you very much.
Was there a snorerin your tent last night? -Snorer in my tent?-Yes, I.
Someone got into your tent.
This is the one bonus thatyou have on expedition with me, is that I don't snore.
Although, you do.
I can categorically guaranteeyou were snoring last night.
[laughs] It's quite funny actually.
We have between us allthe most unusual arrayof different snores.
Like one tent, you'll hear whatsounds like a wounded bison and in another one, there's kindof like an old-fashionedsteam train.
And then from your tent, there's a kind of cute whistle.
It kinda goes.
Zzzzz, whooo! Zzzzz, whooo! It's whistling through my beard, that's what it is.
[laughs] [men shouting] Hey! Hey! [Steve]It's wandering towards us! You can see already thatit's smelt us, becauseit's downwind of us.
It's lifting its head up, sniffing the air.
It's very, very awarethat we're here.
Bears have been seen going ina dead straight line for 20 miles towards foodthat they can only have smelt.
Normally, I'd be excitedto see a bear, but chances are, he'll beviewing us as a potential meal.
Aldo, make sureyou've got the gun.
Just out and ready.
And you'vegot bear flares, haven't you? We have to be really cautious.
If we come overto this side of camp, and if everyone comes innice and close together.
and if everyone comes innice and close together.
That yawn thereis directed at us.
That's a threat display.
Okay, he's gettingquite close now.
From there, he could cover thisdistance in a matter of seconds.
[rifle cocking] Hear the guyscocking their weapons.
Hey! Hey! Haaah! Go on! We're in this polar bear's home and the very last thingwe want to do is hurt him.
But we do need to scare him off.
[Sarah]Just wanna let the flare off? -Yeah.
-Hah! Hah! [flare bangs] Good job! We hope the bright lightfrom these marine flares will drive him away.
[men shouting] -[Steve] Hey!-[man] Hah! Hah! Hah! Hey! Hey! [gunshot in the air, rifle cocks] [Aldo] Have wegot another flare on? [man shouts, flare bangs] [banging and shouting] We're tryingabsolutely everything.
Hah! [flare bangs] Hah, hah, hah! [beating and banging] [Steve] Yeah, I think, hopefully, that'll be enough to make him get on his way.
But you can see, he justwas not frightened at all.
He could smell foodand he just keep on coming.
Oh, it looks likehe's coming back.
So, so far.
all the things thatwe've used are non-lethal.
We're using flares, firing into the air.
But it's not having any effect.
He still keeps coming back.
-[banging and shouting]-Hey! Go on! As a last resort, we trya few well-placed stones.
They won't hurt himthrough his thick fur, but may put him off.
I know it seems crazy to bethrowing stones at a bear, but it's for his safetyas much as ours.
If he does decideto come for us, there's absolutely nothing elseyou can do but shoot it and, seriously, that is the lastthing that any of us want.
and, seriously, that is the lastthing that any of us want.
You can see he's justkeeping on coming.
[Steve] Go on! [Sarah] Go on! Nice shot! Finally, it looks likehe's decided to go.
[Sarah] He's in the water.
So that's exactlywhat we were hoping for.
He's gone into the water.
He's swimming around us.
He's finally decided it wasn'tworth the confrontation.
But it is just pure and simple, down to the fact that right now food is so, so scarce.
Because the ice has broken upso quickly, there are no seals around.
We haven't seen a single seal since we've beenout here paddling.
And he just has no option but to come and try outeverything that could be food.
And it turned out that was us.
Thankfully, we and the bear are walking away unharmedfrom this encounter.
Polar bears rely on the sea iceto travel, hunt and breed.
They and everything elsethat lives here are feeling the effectsof our changing climate.
Climate change up hereis not something that you see on a graph orin stats and facts and figures.
It's in changesto every single day and, you know, the factthat since the last Ice Age, here at this time of year, this has just beena flat expanse of ice and now it's not.
Does it need to be any moredefinitive than that? What do we have to dobefore humanity wakes up? All right then? [Sarah] The goal of thiscamping trip was always to get as far as we couldup Scoresby Sound to where the icemeets the ocean.
So, back in our kayaks, there's big headwinds.
So it's going to bea tough day of paddling.
We're now 30 kilometresfrom where we started and there's still 40km to wherewe think the solid ice will be.
We kayak further and further.
You've just gotto keep paddling.
You've just gotto keep paddling.
[sighs] Watch for bears, then sleep.
eat and paddle some more.
It's our fourth day on the water and as we getfurther up the fjord and closer to the solid ice, we're finally startingto see more wildlife.
What is that littleblack dot there? [Sarah] That's a seal.
It's the first we've spottedon our journey.
[Steve] That's all right, little fella.
That's all right.
At this size, it's very difficultto tell what species it is.
But by far the most numerousup here is the ringed seal.
And they're also the favouritefood of the polar bear.
This one here could well -it's young enough that it could well still bebeing seen by its mother.
Oh, that is beyond cute.
Though this sealis on the shoreline, mother seals tend to give birthon solid ice.
This sighting could be a signwe're getting closer to the receding ice edgeand journey's end.
Sixty kilometresfrom our launch point, we again make campfor the night.
[Steve] When you set up camp, first things you think about are water, wherethe toilets gonna be, shelter, warmth, food.
But fresh water is, generally speaking, right at the top of the list.
So having running waterlike this is a blessing.
Probably gonna warm uponce we get in the water.
Today, we hope to reachthe ice edge.
But ahead of us is open water.
But ahead of us is open water.
-Sarah?-Yeah! We've been going an hour.
What say we, uh, stop and have a drink? Sounds good.
Each day, we have to take on6, 0000 calories, fuelling our muscles andenabling our bodiesto keep warm.
Mmm! Are you checking howyou look in the camera? -No.
Um, this is us on a stopon day five.
And, uh, the windhas turned against us.
Pretty much been paddlingfor one hour and probably doneabout a kilometre, if that.
-Do you need your hand back soyou can get into your cheese?-No, I'm okay.
I can't believe you, uh, you stopped off -with a whole block of cheese.
-Do you want some? -No!-This is how Canadians travel.
That orange cheese alwayskinda scares me a bit.
Red Leicester? That's the one.
Though you're quite happilybattle a polar bear, but you're scared by cheese.
[laughter] God! This far up the fjord, there's less broken iceblocking our way.
But the ice we do seeis much, much bigger.
towering icebergs, many of themover 100 metres high.
These are another signthat we're closing inon the solid ice edge.
They are absolutely monstrous.
Some of them, the size of towns, it looks like.
These icebergs broke awayfrom gigantic glaciers at the end of fjord and have been trappedin solid ice over winter.
Now, they're freedas the ice thaws.
We can't resist a closer look.
Oh, my God, that isabsolutely awe-inspiring! -[Sarah] God, that's pretty.
-Can you paddle this way, Sarah? -[Aldo] Yeah.
[Steve] Whoooa! Oh, my goodness!That is absolutely incredible.
But beautiful as it is, it's a potentially lethal place.
We want to minimise our timehere as much as we possibly can, because any part of this couldbreak, crack and fall off.
because any part of this couldbreak, crack and fall off.
It could even roll and.
Well, you would not want to beanywhere near it whenthat happened.
This ice could have originallyfrozen 100, 000 years ago, when Neanderthals stillwalked the Earth.
[Sarah] This part of it'spretty beautiful, too.
[Steve] Whoa! Look at that! That is immense! Don't get too close, Sarah! The wind really pushes you in.
[Steve] Just see all thesedaggers aimed at your head! [laughs] God, that would hurt.
It's a scary thought as well tothink how much is underneath us.
What is it? Roughlya quarter above the water? [Steve] Yeah.
So what you're sayingis that really that's justthe tip of the iceberg.
[Steve] Whey! Leaving the iceberg behind, we spot what lookslike a white line extending from one sideof the fjord to the other.
What do you think, guys? I think this isour big white wall.
To get here, we'venavigated shifting ice, freezing conditionsand a hungry polar bear.
Finally, it looks likewe've made it.
[Steve] Go on, Sarah!You can do it! [Sarah] Whoo-hoo-hoo! This is the ever-recedingbarrier of ice we set out to reach.
We can paddle no further.
Are you standing on it, Sarah? [Sarah] Uh, just one foot.
[Steve laughs] [Steve] Yo-ho-ho! Look at that! [Sarah] Solid.
Well, I'm stilla little bit nervous.
Ha-ha! Great job.
-Well done, Aldy.
[muffled] As a team, we've completedthe earliest recordedkayak expedition up the largest fjordin the world.
[Sarah] There's somethingspecial being at this point where the ice meets the water, and especially at this timeof year, where it's changing and the conditionsare so dynamic.
[Aldo] This is the biggest fjordon the planet.
You know, to paddle up thisat this time of year, it is genuinely a privilege.
But having said that, it's also quite sad.
This time of year, this isthe earliest that the sea ice has broken up, on record.
And that is, very definitely, you know, a signal thatthe planet is changing.
[Steve] I think it would bean absolute tragedy if my generation wereto be remembered as the people that wrecked theplanet and did nothing about it.
I want to be knownas the generation that stood up for the thingsthat we believed in, that took charge of our problemsand then tried to solve them.
This is somewhere whereclimate change, you know, is changing everything.
Now, not in 100 years' time.
And unless peopleswitch on to that, the impacts are going to befelt everywhere.
♪ EXPEDITION WITH STEVE BACKSHALL IS AVAILABLE ONAMAZON PRIME VIDEO ♪ ♪.