On a mission to help conserve our planet, four adventurers embarked on a journey across Europe to set a new world record in the hope of encouraging better stewardship of our environment. Across the Atlas was the result: an attempt to ski 30 countries in 14 days.
As the world’s population continues to grow, sustaining our way of life without destroying the environment is a global challenge: water shortages, loss of forests, soil erosion, air and water pollution and degradation of coastlines afflict many areas around the world.
Across the Atlas is dedicated to the support of non-profit organisations by raising donations through adventure expeditions that span the globe. And adventurers Pietro Simonetti, Rick Compton, Kelly Myers and Jesse Borrell have already set two world records in the United States by skiing all 28 resorts in Colorado and California. Across the Atlas teams have a range of expertise: they are skiers, climbers, environmentalists, canoeists and logistics and wilderness experts. Team members of the Eco Ski Race 2011 carved Europe while promoting global awareness of the conditions of our planet.
“We wanted to take a snapshot of Europe in 2011 and the state of the glaciers and snow packs,” Simonetti told WideWorld. “As we made our way through Europe we also planted trees, ate only locally grown, sustainable foods, recycled, and distributed EU’s Climate Awareness packets.”
In traveling from country to country, the team used a compact and efficient car, the Fiat hybrid, which is the lowest CO2 emitting car of any European car maker.
“Travel times were longer than we expected because the car is slower. The top speed is only 60 miles per hour but our trip was unaffected overall. We are trying to show that you can still do a big trip with a small car and maybe when people are considering their next car purchase they might choose something closer to this one,” said Simonetti.
As they made their way through each ski resort, the team members learned of the decreasing size of glaciers and how they have continued to recede at shocking rates. Countering the effects of carbon monoxide emissions that are generating these disturbances was one of the team’s focuses on their expedition. “The trip’s main purpose was to create a time capsule of what we are doing and the conditions of Europe’s environment. Someone can then look back at the pictures, photographs, and blog and see the locations of the glaciers and the little amount of snow here in 2011. When checked in the future there may be no snow and they will then be able to trace the levels of depletion,” Simonetti explained. “This is a way we can capture the impact we have on our planet.”
The environmental conditions in Europe shocked Across the Atlas team members. Simonetti told WideWorld there was a huge disparity between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. “There was very little pollution in Western Europe but in Eastern Europe it was a completely different story. Trash was everywhere. The major rivers in Bosnia and Serbia had an unnatural green-blue color. Eastern Europeans were also heavy smokers and there were no bans on smoking in public buildings, restaurants or bars. There was no way to escape it, inside or out”
Planting trees is a very effective and cheap way to absorb carbon monoxide in the atmosphere but the global involvement was far below the team’s expectations. Just over one hundred trees were planted through donations received on their website.
“You need to have a world connection, where in reality we have more of a localised perception of our lives,” said Simonetti. Across the Atlas is anticipating further donations from countries in Europe and donations from around the world are still available on their website.
The Across the Atlas team was unable to ski all 30 countries in a time frame of two weeks due to complications with the weather, road conditions, and barriers that occurred with cultural shifts. The team was able to ski 23 countries in 13 days and whether they have set a world record is still to be determined.