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Famed Belgian polar explorer Dixie Dansercoer dies in Greenland

14:43 09/06/2021

Belgian polar explorer Dixie Dansercoer (pictured) died in Greenland this week, after falling through a shaft in a glacier. Dansercoer was snowkiting across the massive island from north to south together with a fellow explorer from Canada.

Dansercoer, 58, was a long-time explorer, adventurer, author, expedition guide and consultant. He has his own company, Stellar Experiences and also worked with the Lyon-based company Expeditions Unlimited.

He was an expert polar explorer, often carrying out scientific experiments for local researchers, making documentaries or taking part in ecological activism. He was a celebrity in Belgium and made headlines the world over for his daring undertakings, including completing the first-ever circumnavigation of Greenland’s ice cap without motorised vehicles or outside assistance. It is one of the biggest ice caps in the world.

Dansercoer fell into what is known as a moulin, a circular shaft in a glacier through which surface water drains downwards. Covered by a thin layer of ice and snow, the explorer didn’t see it.

While some moulins are shallow, this one was quite deep. A search was carried out for Dansercoer’s body for 24 hours and finally given up. “It was three or four hours before the emergency helicopter arrived at the scene,” Stefan Maes, a good friend of Dansercoer, told VRT. “They then searched for him for the entire night, but it’s a really deep chasm, and there was no sign of him at all.”

Considering the hazardous conditions, the search may never be resumed. But the chance that Dansercoer could still be alive is “literally zero,” said Maes.

As news of Dansercoer’s death emerged, prime minister Alexander De Croo tweeted: “We say goodbye to a pole traveller, a boundary breaking adventurer and a climate activist. Much strength to his family and friends.”

Belgian explorer Alain Hubert, the former president of the International Polar Foundation, carried out several expeditions together with Dansercoer. “It’s difficult to believe,” he told VRT “and reminds us that the danger is always there. It is and remains nature. We have lost a good friend and a great guide.”

Dansercoer leaves behind a wife and four children.

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw