A SPOT 6/7 mosaic of Mounts Wrangell and Saint-Elias Glaciers used to analyse & track the IceLegacy expedition.

The journey made by the IceLegacy expedition on the glaciers of Mounts Wrangell and Saint-Elias in Alaska, is analysed daily using a SPOT 6/7 mosaic by the explorers Børge Ousland and Vincent Colliard. This is the third time Airbus Defence and Space has supported the awareness-raising actions of IceLegacy concerning glacier retreat and dwindling fresh water resources. 



Over a 6 week period, the Norwegian polar explorer Børge Ousland and Vincent Colliard from France will cross the icefields of Mounts Wrangell and Saint-Elias in Alaska, on skis. Along with their equipment, they were transported to the starting point in the Novatak zone by helicopter, on 21st April 2016. They will then cover 430 km on skis, pulling their sleds, sometimes with the assistance of a snowkite. 

St Elias Wrangell IceLegacy Itinerary

The public can track the expedition’s progress daily on the SPOT6/7 mosaic, via the http://icelegacy.com website. The explorers upload their position every day, with a photo and update describing their day on the glaciers. 


After crossing the main glacier of Spitzbergen Island in 2014, and then the Stikine icecap in southern Alaska in 2015, the adventurers will be taking on the world’s largest icefield in 2016, classified as a UNESCO world heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve.


To prepare for the expedition, a SPOT6/7 mosaic was produced with more than 17 images acquired in the spring and summer of 2014 and 2015. The mosaic was printed out on waterproofed pages to provide the adventurers with day by day guidance, even in foggy conditions with no visual reference points. With this set of maps, bad weather cannot stop the skiers from advancing.


The 1.5m resolution enables them to identify the types of ice, the slopes and the crevasses and thus plan for the next day’s journey.
A grid on each map gives the positions which are then verified with a GPS. The next day’s route is thus adjusted on the basis of a double geographical information system. This mosaic covers the entire icecap so that if the explorers get into difficulties they will be able to locate an exit valley.

The icefield of Mounts Wrangell and Saint-Elias is divided between Alaska and Canada, and is the world’s largest non-polar icefield, covering a total of 31,700 km² and with a thickness of up to 1 kilometre.


At 5,489 m, Mount-Saint Elias dominates the numerous peaks which surround this vast expanse of snow. Animal life is abundant and the icy terrain is home to goats, mouflons, caribous, bears and wolves. A US and Canadian International Park manages this spectacular sweep of glaciers and snow.


The IceLegacy project initiated by the two explorers, aims to mobilise efforts to fight glacier retreat. The goal is to cross 20 of the world’s largest glaciers on skis. This epic 10-year journey will take them from Russia to Alaska and from Patagonia to Pakistan.