April 21, 2017

Vatnajökull: before it’s too late

Sport

Exploring a place that is about to disappear is Alex Bellini’s latest solo mission: another complex challenge for the 38-year-old Valtellina-born explorer renowned for his extreme adventures carried out in full autonomy.

Relying on a pair of skis and a 50kg sleight to cover 175 km, Alex left on the 21st of January with the objective of crossing the Vatnajökull – Iceland’s immense glacier and the largest in Europe – from West to East, a stunning yet harsh territory that due to climate change is about to vanish forever.  

It took him 13 days, whipped by strong wind and with an average temperature of -20C°, to complete the crossing. A challenge between himself and the surrounding nature, so powerful and immense and yet so fragile. According to researchers by the end of this century the Vatnajökull will in fact no longer be there due to rising temperatures. The main objective of Bellini’s undertaking is therefore to document the state of the glacier as well as its inevitable and progressive melting in order to raise awareness on the serious repercussions of climate change.

And then, reading through the virtual pages of his travel journal, I discovered what should be the meaning of the relationship between human beings and nature: “It is amazing to experience the power of nature when you find yourself embraced by this giant ice mass. Feeling its energy and infinite strength as an eroding force makes you feel humble as never before. Getting to know Vatnajökull up close is a truly unique experience that everyone should enjoy. Its brittle surface erases your footsteps in one day so your path never leaves a scar… now that’s the way to travel.”

Alex is indeed a rare gem: not everyone would be willing to be exposed to such a high amount of of dangers. In the past he rowed his way through the ocean twice, fighting hunger and all sorts of unforeseen circumstances in the middle of both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and now he’s already planning his next mission: surviving on an iceberg until its complete melting. A brave man, an extraordinary challenge.

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