1,400 km walk to the Northwest Passage


Serial adventurer Frank Wolf has already toppled two expeditions in 2024. In March, he paddled 500 km in a sea kayak around the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia. In early June, he joined an all-Canadian team for a 325 km sled trip to the Clyde River region of Baffin Island. Today, Wolf begins a considerably longer journey, paddling 1,400 km from Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories to Kugluktuk in the Northwest Passage.

The Yamozha expedition route.The Yamozha expedition route.

Filling in the wilderness

“Over the years, I’ve slowly filled in the wilderness and drawn lines on the map of Northern Canada,” Wolf told ExplorersWeb a few days before flying to Yellowknife. “This route is a new landscape for me. It’s a seldom-used route… but I realize that these routes have been traveled by the Dene people for thousands of years.”

Inspired by these journeys, Wolf named the paddle the Yamozha Expedition. Yamozja means “traveler” or “wanderer” in the indigenous Dene language. Wolf will not be wandering alone. He will be teamed up with Arturo Simondetti. It will be the pair’s first expedition together.

At first glance, they seem like an odd couple. Simondetti is only 23, while Wolf is in his mid-50s. But a chance meeting through their part-time jobs scrapping abandoned boats was enough to convince Wolf that an expedition partnership could work.

“Being grinding on these boats for 10 hours a day, I could see that he had the mentality to do this kind of travel,” Wolf explained. “He’s also a talented filmmaker… kind of an old soul. We clicked right away.”

Frank Wolf (left) and Arturo Simondetti (right) pack their things for their journey. Frank Wolf (left) and Arturo Simondetti (right) pack their things for their journey.

Frank Wolf (left) and Arturo Simondetti pack their things for their journey. Photo: Frank Wolf

Paddling and portaging

Wolf estimates their route, which includes the Yellowknife, Winter, Coppermine and Hood River systems, ending with a 325km paddle on the Arctic Ocean, should take about 33 days. They’ll carry 38 days’ worth of food, which will give them a small buffer for wind-impacted days.

The plan calls for an average of 40km per day, but Wolf expects daily totals to vary significantly.

“It’s going to be a physical challenge at first working upstream on the Yellowknife River. With all the food, we’re going to be carrying most of the weight and the water levels are a little lower this year. There’s going to be some challenging portage, dragging, grinding… We can only average about 20km a day here,” he said. “But once we get up on the Hood and the Coppermine, we should be able to make pretty good progress.”

With about 10 hours a day on the road, Simondetti is shooting footage for a film as they go. Wolf believes that’s for the best.

“Shoot when it’s hard, otherwise there’s no point,” he says. “There’s no point in making a movie if it’s just lunchtime at campsites. You’ve got to do the good stuff in between.”

You can follow Wolf and Simondetti’s progress via their Garmin InReach here.

The mail 1,400 km walk to the Northwest Passage first appeared on Explorers Web.

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