In this Q&A, we get to know a little more about Charlie Smith – UK representative from this years Fjallraven Polar Expedition and leader of ‘The Coldest Crossing.’ The young, English adventurer has achieved alot quite recently and will be leading the youngest, unsupported winter crossing of Iceland this December. To learn more about this extraordinary challenge that lies ahead, visit thecoldestcrossing.com
You can also read our Q&A with Charlie below.
- Introduce yourself, and what it is you do/have done/ have coming up.
I’m Charlie Smith, I’d like to recognise myself as an adventurer but I think we have quite a way before I could start labelling myself as one. I have a British-record for crossing Iceland, was part of the 2015 Fjallraven Polar Expedition and named Designer of the Year in 2014. In December this year I am leading an expedition to become the first recognized crossing of Iceland in Winter, unsupported – The Coldest Crossing.
- You were selected for the Fjallraven Polar earlier in the year – can you tell us what that experience was like?
Polar is a funny story actually – Polar was incredible, life-changing in fact. Getting on the expedition however; that was a little different. It basically involved sitting in front of a computer for about three weeks and individually asking every single one of my friends and family to vote for me – employing the exact lifestyle the Polar aims to get rid of! Though the expedition was great – what I loved was getting a very particular affinity with your surroundings, be it with the other polarists (from all the years) or with ‘the outdoors’ itself.
- How did you come to decide upon your next expedition/how did it come about?
Back when I was slightly more ignorant and much more naive I walked across Iceland from North to South unsupported. If anyone has been to Iceland, they’ll know that as mountainous and beautiful the landscape is – there is an equal amount of vast, arid desert. When I was walking, I was constantly cursing the weight of my pack and that I couldn’t move as fast as I usually would, as a result I started thinking about how I could theoretically do the crossing much faster on skis. The idea has been bolstered and adapted since then, but that was the first glimpse of “The Coldest Crossing”.
- Can you give us some detail around the expedition and what it means to you?
Well, between December 7th 2015 and January 1st 2016 my team and I shall be attempting to ski the length of Iceland from the most northerly point to the most southerly. This is different to most arctic expeditions in that for the first two-thirds the landscape will be reminiscent of a north or south polar attempt – very flat, relatively simple to ‘just keep trudging on’ however, the last third is over mountains, so we will be changing from nordic to alpine touring bindings and boots (on the same skis) in-field. That, coupled with the meagre 5-hours of usable daylight per day is going to make this attempt very interesting…
- How do you keep going on an expedition, when you feel up against it and you’re such a distance from home?
To me, it’s honestly now a case that I just have to. Especially now with The Coldest Crossing – I am very solidly in the belief that this is bigger than my team and I. Simply on the fact that we will undoubtedly be the youngest people ever to achieve this, it’s now out of my control. I’m not making much sense here, erm. Hold on a sec. My honest motivation for this, is that I truly believe this is bigger than the pain in my foot, it’s bigger than being out of breath. It means more to me than the relief of stopping ever could. As long as that keeps circling through our minds, we stay focused and we remember that we’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world – we’ll keep going.
- When you’re back in the UK, what is your preferred place to be?
Ooh – easy one, though I hardly get up there – Sedbergh. A little town at the foot of the Howgill Fells, just north of the Yorkshire Dales. Specifically, on top of Winder.
- Who is your outdoorsy hero?
A very, very close tie between Al Humphreys and Ed Stafford. Both incredibly inspiring individuals, luckily I have had the chance to meet them personally – really down to earth.
- Do you have any expeditions in mind for in the future?
I can’t tell you much, but the next one is an awful lot warmer…