Hungry for adventure?
COME ON BOARD THE EXPLORER PROGRAM
Under The Pole Explorer is your opportunity to gain insight into a large-scale expedition and to discover rarely visited places. Enroll as a trainee in an exploratory expedition and take the alternative route to global travel.
A chance to discover breathtakingly beautiful regions in the company of scientists, explorers, or film crews and to have a glimpse of the world available to only a lucky few.
All training programs are based aboard the WHY expedition vessel. You will be guided by the Under The Pole expedition teams and can take advantage of the vessel’s state-of-the-art equipment.
TWO APPROACHES, ONE EXPEDITION
OUR TRAINING PROGRAMS
Diving training program
The UTP Explorer diving programs are unique: you will discover far-off, untouched regions while diving with a regular cylinder or a trimix rebreather, and have the opportunity to participate in underwater studies with the expedition team.
- Polar diving and ice diving training
- Underwater photography and/or videography training
- Rebreather training
- Exploration training
Sailing training program
During the WHY’s conveyance between its mission areas, embark on open sea crossings to experience the high sea and to appreciate stops ashore. During coastal sailing, the WHY makes headway by sail or engine, depending on the schedule and the weather, and you’ll have the chance for plenty of anchoring and excursions.
- Open sea sailing training (learn about life at sea, taking watch, maneuvers, etc.)
- Coastal sailing training (sailing in ice, anchoring, maneuvers, etc.)
More to explore
Under The Pole specializes in underwater exploration, but also offers numerous opportunities for discovery, enrichment, and exploration: observation of flora and fauna, scientific studies, documentary filming and reportage photography, trekking and glacier hiking, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, polar bivouacking, kayaking, and more.
BE PART OF OUR AROUND-THE-WORLD TOUR LIKE NO OTHER 2017-2020
FEEDBACK FROM EXPLORERS ON UTP II
The welcome I received from Ghislain and his team immediately made me feel at ease, like I was truly part of the group. I spent 15 days on another planet experiencing spectacular moments –like seeing the Northern Lights– in a terrific, welcoming, yet very professional group. I hope to be able to join the upcoming UTP III expedition in a few months!
– Stéphane L., embarked in Greenland on UTP II
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After finding out about and following the first UTP Arctic expedition in the media, I was surprised to find out that UTP II (with the discovery of Greenland) was open to explorers in training! I had been toying with the idea of participating in an underwater expedition for a long time. I was just waiting to find the right opportunity. So, in February 2015 I joined the UTP team and the WHY on the western coast of Greenland near a village named Ikerasak. This adventure allowed me to perform my first cold water and ice dives. I was confronted with overwintering complications on the ice field. But I was also able to get to know the people of Greenland and discover their way of life. The welcome I received from Ghislain and his team immediately made me feel at ease, like I was truly part of the group. With each person having their function on board, according to their area of competence, the apprenticeship is quite varied and hands-on: diving in a polar environment and safety precautions, taking photos and editing images, ice-fishing the Greenlandic way, living life in a polar environment, taking scientific samples, and above all, making chocolate profiteroles in the most extreme environment: a 10 square foot kitchen! To sum it all up, I spent 15 days on another planet experiencing spectacular moments –like seeing the Northern Lights– in a terrific, welcoming, yet very professional group. I hope to be able to join the upcoming UTP III expedition in a few months!
Thank you to the entire team!
I immediately felt like a member of their small family and I quickly found my place thanks to their inclusiveness and their big hearts! I experienced the most amazing dives of my life beneath the ice field, where I discovered a multitude of color shades, types of ice, and plays of light that made each dive unique! I can never thank Manue and Ghislain enough for allowing me to experience these extraordinary moments and for welcoming me so graciously!
– Bertrand F., embarked twice in Greenland on UTP II
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As I’m passionate about scuba diving and the polar regions, I’d always searched for a trip that would allow me to combine the two. After returning from a short expedition in the White Sea in northern Russia, I began my hunt for a new project. During my extensive search online, I tracked down Ghislain and Manue, about whom I hadn’t heard anything since their feats during their first adventure to the North Pole (UTP I). I was surprised to learn that they were preparing for a new diving expedition around Greenland and that it was open to passionate amateurs (UTPII)! Without a second thought, I signed up for a two-week sailing loop in the area around Sisimiut at the end of spring 2014. What memories! I had a blast diving around the icebergs and under the pack and exploring the snow-capped mountains of the western coast.
But the most important thing was how the entire team aboard welcomed me so warmly. I immediately felt like a member of their small family and I quickly found my place thanks to their inclusiveness and their big hearts! I could have listened all night long to the explorers, adventurers, and sailors tell stories of their journeys to the four corners of the world. My fondest memory of the dive has to be when I discovered the blast of air that comes from an iceberg when it moves, leaving traces on the sandy soil, and the end-of-the-dive swim we had in the blazing sunshine in a lagoon dug into the surface of the iceberg. The only thing missing was a pina colada!
After two weeks on board, I left the WHY, Kayak and the rest of the team with a heavy heart… As soon as I returned, I got to work preparing for my second trip with the UTP team, as they were planning to spend the winter in northern Greenland. This time, there was a change of scenery: ice fields as far as the eye could see, unmoving ice floes, extreme cold, and sleds! How could I resist? In late winter 2015, Manue and Ghislain welcomed me with open arms once again and I prepared to spend, along with another trainee, Stéphane, 15 days underneath (during the day) and on (at night) the ice field! I experienced the most amazing dives of my life, in which I discovered a multitude of color shades, types of ice, and plays of light that made each dive unique! The thing that struck me the most was the logistics that went into allowing three people to spend an hour in the ice underwater. It truly involves a lot of effort, endurance, and, above all, teamwork! Everyone would help each other out, and we trainees received special attention, knowing that we were new to much of the diving equipment and techniques used in these very particular sites. I also can’t forget to mention our encounter with the inhabitants of Ummannaq and Ikerasak who, like all the Inuits, taught us so much about life, the perception of time, and the importance of helping one another in society.
I can never thank Manue and Ghislain enough, as well as all of the UTPII team members, for allowing me to experience these extraordinary moments and for welcoming me so graciously!
See you soon on UTP III!
The warm, friendly atmosphere made me immediately feel like part of the family. We left at 4:00 AM the next day for Disko Island. We navigated slowly while clearing a path in the ice pack, then on open water. When we arrived, we met a scientist specialized in Greenland sharks, John, who studies them from his boat. We spent 3 days with him and also saw several impressive specimens. Thank you to Ghislain, Manu, and their entire team for allowing me to share these magical moments.
– Pascal D., embarked in Greenland on UTP II
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I came across the expedition completely by chance when sailing off the coast of southern Brittany. The WHY schooner, which I saw in the Glenan Islands and in Concarneau, intrigued me and after doing some research, I found out about the UTP II project. This fit very well with the desire I’d had for a long time to go cold water diving, not having found the right opportunity to do so. So I was ready to jump into the adventure and applied without thinking twice.
When I visited the boat in September, I was convinced by the quality of the WHY’s construction, the professionalism of Ghislain and Manue had demonstrated time and again during previous expeditions, and the dream team they assembled around them. Being invited to participate in a scientific expedition with a team of extreme divers is an extraordinary opportunity. The meeting was set for the following spring.
I kept up my motivation for winter training by following the progression of the WHY towards Greenland in severe weather conditions.
In May, I left for Ilulissat, in the Disko Bay, where the WHY arrived up the coast gradually as the ice melted. The weather was calm and mild.
Welcome aboard! The warm, friendly atmosphere made me immediately feel like part of the family. We left at 4:00 AM next day for Disko Island. We navigated slowly while clearing a path in the ice pack, then on open water. When we arrived, we met a scientist specialized in Greenland sharks, John, who studies them from his boat. We spent 3 days with him and also saw several impressive specimens.
Unfortunately, the phytoplankton began to proliferate at the beginning of spring, making the water murky and greenish at the surface. I dropped the idea of the atmospheric blue-toned shots of the icescape I had in mind, as only close-up photography was possible. In Godhaven, the flora and fauna were less vivid than in the north Pacific: the drop off was lined with red, orange, and yellow sea cucumbers. There were some nudibranches and flatworms, as well, but few fish or crustaceans.
The equipment was fit for purpose: two separate blocks with two pressure reducers to isolate a circuit in case of frost. It was mostly my hands that felt cold.
We sailed towards the southwestern tip of Disko Island to dive and spend the night. The boat crawled along, weaving in and out of icebergs and growlers. It was vital to monitor the sounder, as the maps weren’t very precise and shoals weren’t always shown! It was then time for our first encounter with right whales. There was a whole pod of them. Our superhero divers Ghislain and Martin attempted to film it. But despite the water being a bit clearer about 230 feet down, they waited for the whales in vain. On the surface, the scenery was gorgeous, scattered with ice sheets and icebergs, and bustling with flocks of petrels and eiders enjoying the plankton. Their presence went hand in hand with that of the whales.
The divers without rebreathers descended on a black sand shoal between 49 and 82 feet down. Crustaceans, shrimp, sea cucumbers, razor clams, and variegated red worms were all seen on this biodiversity dive!
In the archipelago of the Kronprinsen Islands, improved visibility allowed me to capture the atmosphere in a few photos. At the same time, Ghislain and Martin dove down to 262 feet, testing and validating the various procedures. They were equipped with external and internal temperature sensors, as well as heart rate and respiratory monitors. Their readings were then analyzed.
The next day it was cloudy and snowing, but there was still no wind. We sailed for 17 miles on the engine to attempt to find clearer water in the south near Savik Island. We anchored in Napissaq for the night. The village was deserted. Most of the inhabitants were at work in the Royal fish factory, so we ran into them on their way home.
We returned to the north to dive in Claushavn near the icebergs. Under the layer of phytoplankton, the clear water allowed me to capture the atmosphere with my camera alongside my partner. There was an enormous, menacing wolffish ready to attack, so Romain didn’t want to approach and carefully kept his distance. Ever since Ghislain got attacked by one while filming it, the WHY team is wary of them!
Before returning to Ilulissat, Tonio and Ghislain looked for one last diving site: an iceberg. The temperature had noticeably increased over the last 15 days, so the icebergs had become weak, broken up, and could have even tipped over. So finding the right iceberg proved to be difficult. But we finally found it: magnificent with a series of rounded, bluish crevices.
It was a strange sight, a wall of ice sculpted out of small facets that made it look like a giant golf ball. It was cloudy and snowing, so a pity about the photos. I’ll have to come back…
Thank you to Ghislain, Manue, and their entire team for allowing me to share these magical moments.
Tempted by the adventure?