The Inuit Way
A Journey across Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelagoby Edward Cooper
The Inuit Way – travel narrative of a Polar expedition. A gripping account of living with the Inuit in northwest Greenland, before journeying to Canadian Arctic islands. Confronting snow blindness, frostbite and hungry polar bears, explorer Edward Cooper’s mesmerising take on Polar travel is part travelogue, part adventure, part cultural history.
About this book
The Inuit Way is a mesmerising take on Polar travel by explorer and award-winning researcher Edward Cooper. It is a gripping account of the author’s travels across northwest Greenland, where he spent several months living and hunting with the Inuit. From there, Cooper and teammate venture across the sea ice on to the Canadian Arctic islands. Here, Cooper’s quest is to track down a note left by David Haig-Thomas, a British Arctic explorer, nearly a hundred years previously.
Suffering from snow blindness and frostbite, fighting off hungry polar bears, surrounded by the white wolves of Ellesmere Island, Edward Cooper and teammate discover a land steeped in culture and history.
Part travelogue, part adventure and part history, this is a thrilling Polar travel narrative that offers insights into the people that live in the Arctic year-round. Meet Aqpaa, a young Inuit hunter who sleeps in a small tent on the sea ice, and fishes for halibut during the winter months. Join Cooper in watching Inuit hunters coach crack teams of dogs across the ice in the year’s first dog race. Get to know a former Danish drug smuggler turned hunter. Experience the realities of Arctic life – drinking water carved from icebergs by giant trucks, and the constraints imposed on sanitation by permafrost and freezing temperatures. And journey with Cooper on a life-endangering expedition, where he falls through a crack in the ice into icy waters while watching his teammate continue onwards, oblivious to danger.
Reflecting on his experience, Cooper appraises Haig-Thomas’s legacy from his time in Greenland, and considers how life has evolved for Inuit families across the following century. Above all, Cooper sensitively discusses Greenland as a litmus test for a world that is evolving geopolitically and through climate change. The Inuit Way is a fascinating book that will be enjoyed by intrepid travellers, adventure junkies, Polar enthusiasts, and armchair or real-life explorers as well as people interested in the environment, fishing or indigenous communities.
About the Author
Edward Cooper is an award-winning researcher who holds a Masters in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. After working as a paramedic in South African townships and kayaking across the North Sea, he joined Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ team on the ‘Coldest Journey’ expedition to Antarctica then led the Haig-Thomas expedition in 2015. Cooper has served as a reservist with the Honourable Artillery Company and worked as a consultant to films about remote places. He sits on the board of the Scientific Exploration Society, which supports the next generation of explorers. He has travelled and worked extensively across the world including in the Arctic, Antarctic, South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He has written extensively about his travels, including several articles on the Arctic in The Telegraph. The Inuit Way is Cooper’s first book.
Additional InformationTable of Contents
Chapter 1 ‘Greenland’
The chapter provides context to the reader of Greenland – its politics, people, and geostrategic importance in the modern world.
Chapter 2 ‘The Explorer’
It introduces the reader to David Haig-Thomas – the details of his 1937-38 British Arctic Expedition – the route that he took and the perils he faced. It describes his respect for the Inuhuit and local knowledge.
Chapter 3 ‘Ideas to Action’
the idea becomes an obsession. It lays out the steps and sacrifices made in a singular drive to set up a polar expedition.
Chapter 4 ‘First Landing’
First impressions of Greenland in the summer.
Chapter 5 ‘A World Without Light’
I return to Greenland in the winter having ironed out some the glitches to the journey caused by climate change.
Chapter 6 ‘The First Sunrise’
Town rests in complete darkness for 2-3 months of the year. The start of February signals an opportunity to see the sun for the first time.
Chapter 7 ‘Freezing Fish’
I befriend a local hunter named Aqpaa. Aqpaa is a young Inuit hunter who provides his own perspective on hunting in Qaanaaq. Aqpaa has set up a small tent on the sea ice and fishes for halibut though out the winter months.
Chapter 8 ‘At the Races’
My teammate arrives to life in Qaanaaq – it’s a shock to the system at first, particularly the lack of a flushing toilet. The permafrost and freezing temperatures mean that there is very little in the way of sanitation. Even the drinking water is carved from icebergs by giant trucks that head out across the sea ice each day. We experience the first dog race of the year as teams of Inuit hunters coach crack teams of dogs across the ice. In their hands fly the red and white flags of Greenland. We meet up with Finn – the old Dane who has lived in Qaanaaq for most of his life.
Chapter 9 ‘The Haunting’
Describes the first training trip to Qeqertussuaq – also known as Herbert Island where Wally Herbert stayed on his north pole expedition.
Chapter 10 ‘Walrus Hunting and Nuclear Warheads’
I talk through the logistical challenges of leading an expedition in Greenland – few people I speak to know where it is or how to get things there. I interview Finn over a cup of coffee, and we act out a walrus hunt.
Chapter 11 ‘Visiting Peary’
I trek to the base of Robert Peary, the famous US explorer who controversially claimed to be the first man to reach the North Pole. A claim that was refuted even in Haig-Thomas’ time, but which David found evidence to back up from an Inuhuit that had accompanied him.
Chapter 12 ‘Leaping into the Unknown’
The day before the plane taking us to Eureka for the start of the journey is set to land, I find out a key piece of equipment hasn’t arrived. I work frantically to get the whole airport to stand down and re-open the following day allowing time for the equipment to arrive. Yanik and Vincent the famous French wildlife photographer arrive in Qaanaaq to share the plane out to Eureka where they will film the elusive white wolf.
Chapter 13 ‘Eureka!’
Finally, we make it to Eureka – the pilots swooping down low over Musk Ox and colonies of Snow Hares.
Chapter 14 ‘Cold’
Getting through the first 2 weeks of brutal cold, hoping for the weather to improve as we head deeper into their journey. -42C and winds of 30kph. My gear isn’t up to the task. Ice forms in my clothing and in my sleeping bag. My fingers turn black with frostbite, Greenwell’s silent despair as he struggles to overcome his dread over the seemingly insurmountable journey ahead
Chapter 15 ‘Bears’
Shock as we encounter 14 bears when I thought that we would be unlikely to see any. A chance to reflect on Haig-Thomas writing about being chased by a polar bear mother.
Chapter 16 ‘Snowblind’
I fall through a tidal crack in the sea ice and watch helplessly as Greenwell continues to move on ahead oblivious to the danger. We move through some of our worst weather and across large stretches of open sea. In a bid to navigate through the worst of it Greenwell loses his sight.
Chapter 17 ‘The Island’
With days to spare we prepare for the final push to the island – it will be our longest journey across the sea ice yet. Greenwell recovers from his snow blindness with the aid of some rest and an overdose of strong painkillers.
Chapter 18 ‘Conclusion’
I discuss Haig-Thomas’ legacy from his time in Greenland. A reflection on how life has changed for the families of the Inuit that he held in such high regard. In my mind they have become a litmus test for world events.