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Kayaking: The World's Only Class IV Ice Cube

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Outside magazine, July 1994


Kayaking: The World's Only Class IV Ice Cube
By Todd Balf (with Derek Rielly)


This month a bush plane will deposit a four-member kayak team on the Barnes Ice Cap, at the geographic center of Canada's Baffin Island. "Most think we're insane," says Pennsylvania paddler John Weld, who explains that they'll then travel 300 miles on three rivers--including the Clyde, which has Class IV and V rapids--in a bid to become the first to cross the island by whitewater kayak. Led by Andy Bridge of Maryland and Bryan Tooley of Oregon, teammates on the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Whitewater Team, they'll paddle the McDonald River west to Foxe Basin. After following the coast south for 40 miles, they'll head east back to the ice cap, making a grinding, 90-mile ascent on an unnamed river. Then they'll lug the 90-pound boats for a few miles and conclude the trip with a woolly descent of the Clyde. Among their concerns: polar bears on the coast and an unspecified number of deadly waterfalls on the Clyde. "We have a limited amount of reliable information," admits Weld. "Nobody, as far as we know, has done anything remotely like this."

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