First off, let me say what I mean by “Explanation Blog”. Since the expedition Frank and I are going to embark on is of such a massive scale, I thought I might take a little time every now and then to explain certain things like prevailing winds, ecological zones and so on. I hope to give our expedition some context. If there is one thing I learned from cycling Australia, it is that CANADA is one of the most exciting countries in the world.
I thought I would try to answer a question that most people have when I explain to them that we are “climbing Canada”. When I explain our expedition, I start by telling people what we are doing and that is “traveling from the lowest point in Canada to the highest point in Canada”. Then, I announce our start point as Cape Spear, Newfoundland (Canada’s most eastern point) and our cycling end point as “200km west of Whitehorse, Yukon”. I go on to explain the remaining 200km ski tour and summit attempt on Mt. Logan. This is when most people give me a funny face, then a smirk, and ask me that if I am going from the lowest to the highest point – why I don’t just start on the west coast? Most people assume, because Frank and I cycled Australia, we just want to cross another country, however this isn’t the case.
The difference between the ocean levels of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is approximately 20cm. This 20cm can be measured at the Panama Canal, and it is also seen in many other locations around the world.
Good question: I have often told people that thermal expansion is the cause, which basically means that an increased temperature in one area causes the ocean to expand. However, after looking into it further, I realize I am mistaken: considering that most of the active ocean volcanos (the ones that make the earth’s crust) are in the Atlantic, you would expect it to be warmer than the Pacific. But that is a discussion for another time!
The main reason there is a difference, frankly put, (pun intended) is that the Atlantic Ocean is more dense than the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic has a higher salinity, which makes the water compact just a little bit more – squeezing out that 20cm which Frank and I have to climb!
I know what your thinking… all this for 20cm. However, it is not in either of us to leave the small details out. These 20cm mean a great deal to us and maintains the principle of the expedition. It also gives us the excuse to add another extreme. The need to circumnavigate Mt. Logan’s base (or ‘footprint’) in order to reach base camp, since the mountain is so large it actually touches Canada’s northwestern border, means that we also touch that northwestern border. So in the GCA we will effectively travel from the lowest point in elevation to the highest, and also from the eastern edge to the western edge of Canada.
“This one step – choosing a goal and staying to it – changes everything.”