Sarah MacNair Landry the explorer who grew up surrounded by dogs

Sarah MacNair-Landry, the explorer who grew up surrounded by dogs and snow

Sarah MacNair Landry the explorer who grew up surrounded by dogs

If you can't find Santa Claus in Lapland, the South Pole or the North Pole, you might find him. The Canadian Sarah McNair-Landry (33 years old) is not an elf, but lives between glaciers and the northern lights. His spirit of survival and adventure seems like the script of a video game: he is the youngest person to explore the poles and, together with his brother Eric, they have revolutionized expeditions with sports such as kitesurfing, to cross Greenland or the Arctic Wind. Always with a camera on your helmet to document travel and climate change.

“We need to inspire young people to get out there, learn about the planet and care for it. Let them be active. The same thing happens with the cold, if you stay still you freeze,” says the explorer. McNair lives in a mobile home made of recycled materials that she built with her boyfriend Erik Boomer – also an adventurer and kayak expert – in Iqaluit, a corner of the icy and vast Baffin Island (Canada). There she grew up surrounded by dogs and snow, with no television or roads, with two polar guide parents who taught her to live with temperatures so cold that thermometers don't register them and to love white desert landscapes.

You won't find them at a Caribbean resort, even though you've crossed the Sahara on a camel or the Gobi on a dragon boogie. Your comfort zone is the cold. Sarah McNair-Landry runs the company Northwinds, which makes expeditions and documentaries through the coldest regions on earth. She is the first woman to be certified as a Master Pole Guide by the International Polar Guides Association and is considered one of the world's top adventurers by National Geographic. At the age of 17, he and his family reached the North Pole on a sleigh that traveled through fluorescent nights. At the age of 19, a statue awaited her in the heart of the South Pole: Lenin. The Soviets planted it there after tearing up Antarctica with tractors.

Many of the places he has visited have never been human, but his presence is felt. The Inuit tell him about missing animals, about thaws and cracks along old paths. With his brother he traveled the mythical Northwest Passage, more than 3,000 kilometers of ice sheets where the Atlantic and Pacific meet. The crossing had not been completed since 1906. On the way they encountered a shattered horizon. They had to deviate by 550 kilometers. There was another surprise in store for them that day: a hungry polar bear.

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The McNairs form an almost perfect tandem. The courtyard of their house was the steppe where they played as children and imagined distant megacities. That day, nature in the Northwest Passage reminded them of its harshness: Eric fought off the bear with a shovel while his sister looked for a weapon. Sarah had to choose between her brother or the animal. He shot into the air and the bear walked away. The terror was recorded like a tattoo.

The American activist Will Steger knows the tandem. They taught him how to fly a kitesurf. For an old-fashioned map and sled explorer, it was a revelation. “They did almost everything. Your challenge is to find another big challenge,” he elaborates.

Sarah McNair-Landry still relies on her dogs, but takes advantage of technology: GPS, recording devices, drones. On Google Earth he found two unknown rivers in Greenland. The discovery was translated into the documentary Into Twin Galaxies. At the beginning of the expedition, Sarah was traveling so fast that her kite rose into the air and fell like a stone. He broke his helmet and part of a vertebra. Her partner, who accompanied her, begged her to return, but she continued. Boomer avoids the word stubbornness and prefers character. She smiles when she is reminded of it. When traveling there is never a lack of determination and chocolate, whole boxes.

National Geographic has been following their travels since 2007, but also focuses on invisible stories such as the documentary “Pour ne pas perdre le Nord” (Don't Lose the North), a short film that decries the mountains of garbage accumulating in Arctic cities. It also supports art installations like Gauge, where it shows the white walls rising out of the water, painted by artists. It uses renewable energy for its equipment and uses Inuit techniques to make kayaks through the Qajakkut network. The networks have made their adventures visible and although there are customers who follow the image for Instagram, it conveys respect for the environment.

In 2019 she received the 21st Century Adventurer Award from the European Outdoor Film Tour, the continent's largest exploratory film event. The adrenaline of exploring new corners of the planet and sharing its beauty with others gives you hope for the future. One of his most emblematic adventures was repeating his parents' pioneering journey around Baffin Island, the size of Spain. Traveling through a moon and pigeon world for four months. Those looking for her often wait for an older, bearded man to lead them and then find the Snow Queen.

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