Interview: A Baffin Vacation

Sarah McNair-Landry on her 45-day multi-sport expedition in the Arctic Circle

Feature type Interview

Read time 8 mins

Published Jan 18, 2023

Author Rosie Fuller

Rosie Fuller Tour Coordinator for the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour, when Rosie’s not watching films about the great outdoors, she spends her time in the great outdoors: climbing, running, hiking and skiing.

Most people’s summer holidays don’t involve skiing hundreds of kilometres over a frozen fjord in the Arctic Circle, but adventurers Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer are not most people. On a romantic getaway with a difference, the duo set off on a bold, multi-sport 45-day expedition through the remote landscape of Baffin Island in Canada, in search of stunning cliffs to climb and unexplored rivers to white-water kayak.

With the Arctic Ocean and a team of dogs in her backyard, growing up, Sarah McNair-Landry called the wild and remote landscapes of Baffin Island home. Learning the skills of surviving in the cold at a young age, she soon started to venture on longer overnight trips. When she turned 18, she joined an unsupported expedition to the South Pole, and a year later she dog sledded to the North Pole, becoming the youngest person to reach both poles. 

Since then she has traversed the Greenland Ice Cap five times, completed a two-month long dog sledding expedition to Ellesmere Island and has returned to both North and South Pole as a guide. Always seeking new adventures, she headed to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, along with her brother Eric to complete the first non-vehicle supported kite-buggy crossing of the desert, and since has spent a month traveling with a friend and four camels through the Eastern Sahara in Egypt. 

Her true passion though is kite-skiing. Along with her brother Eric, the duo kite-skied 3,300km retracing the Northwest Passage. The journey took them 85 days, battling rough ice, polar bears, and open water. An expedition that saw the two of them nominated for National Geographic prestigious Adventurer of the Year award in 2017 and Sarah named one of the Top Ten Women in Adventure by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. 

When she is not in the cold, she spends her time working in film and photography. And in 2022 along with her partner Erik Boomer, she released A Baffin Vacation, documenting their multi-sport expedition through the remote landscape of the island on which she grew up.

This year, the film will be touring with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Rosie Fuller recently caught up with Sarah to find out more.

So where exactly did you grow up, and where do you live now? 

I grew up in Iqaluit, on Southern Baffin Island Canada. It’s the capital city of Canada’s territory of Nunavut.

Erik grew up in American Falls and later McCall, Idaho. We love both locations, and now split our time between Iqaluit and the Tetons  in Idaho. 

What was the idea behind the film A Baffin Vacation, and the expedition? 

Erik is a professional white-water kayaker; his passion is seeking out new rivers and first descents in remote regions around the world. He is also a photographer. My background is long cold polar expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic – dog sledding or kite skiing. Lately we’ve started climbing. The idea of this multi-sport expedition was to combine our passions into one adventure. 

The idea of this multi-sport expedition was to combine our passions into one adventure

What locations are featured in your film? 

Inuksuit Fiord, east coast of Baffin Island is the location of our expedition and film. 

We love good stories from the making of films. Can you tell us about the best days or memorable moments? 

The expedition was completely self-filmed, which added a fun challenge. Being the characters and the filmmakers, all while on expedition and working physically hard every day, was at times really challenging, especially finding the motivation to film at the end of long days. 

Since we skied in with all our expedition supplies, climbing gear, kayak gear and food for 45 days, we had to be as light as possible. Which meant we had limited camera equipment. We left our tripod at home and we were limited on battery power, as we only had a small solar battery set up, so every drone flight had to count! 

The best days were simply being out on expedition in such a beautiful landscape, with all our toys – skis, kayaks, climbing gear – for a month and a half. 

How about funny stories and mishaps – if they happened, please tell us about them! 

While hauling our kayaks across a thin pan of ice, the ice suddenly gave away and Erik fell through the ice into the Arctic Ocean. I remember clearly thinking – should I film this, or should I help? I decided to help, and pushed out a kayak so he could grab onto it. As soon as Erik got back onto the slightly thicker ice, he looks at me and said, Why didn’t you film it?

What’s next for you – any projects on the horizon? 

Erik and I just spent the summer on a 71-day expedition in Kangiqtualuk on the east coast of Baffin about 250km north of where A Baffin Vacation was filmed. It was another multi-sport adventure; combining all our favourite sports: kite-skiing, skiing, climbing and kayaking. And Erik spent autumn in Mexico on a whitewater kayak expedition, kayaking new rivers that cut through deep canyons. 

Now I know – film first, help second!

Now I know – film first, help second!

How special is it for your film to be part of the Banff Tour?

Super excited that A Baffin Vacation is touring with Banff. We have to thank all the amazing friends who helped us tell this story! A huge thanks to Rush Sturges, who is an amazing filmmaker, and help us craft this story.

A Baffin Vacation will be touring as apart of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. For the full UK schedule, complete line-up of films and to links to buy tickets, click here.

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