In June, Twillingate resident and nurse Sarah Rice captured grainy photos of what appeared to be two people camping on an iceberg floating in an inlet near the community.
At the time, his photos circulated online, raising many questions and concerns from locals who know that icebergs are unpredictable and dangerous even in the best of conditions.
The pair of campers were not identified, until now.
They are Ammar Alkassm and Ethan Harold, who only met a few months ago but quickly realized that they share a love of adventure.
They started a YouTube channel called Orange Carabiner and uploaded a video, their first, of your iceberg adventure On Wednesday.
Alkassm had visited Newfoundland before, spending some time on Fogo Island during the winter in hopes of seeing some icebergs. Unfortunately, as Alkassm discovered, winter is actually the worst time of the year for icebergs.
“After sharing my story and adventure with Ethan, my Fogo Island adventure, I still had it in me that I wanted to go back to Newfoundland and see those icebergs,” Alkassm told Breaking: on Thursday.
“The initial idea was honestly to get a kayak and sail as close to those icebergs as possible, and just have that experience. It started from that idea and then grew to thinking about doing something a little more interesting.”
The opening box of the couple’s YouTube video displays a disclaimer warning others not to attempt something similar.
Harold said that he is not encouraging anyone to follow what they did. The locals they met on their excursion to Newfoundland did not mention any safety concerns when discussing their intention to climb an iceberg, he said.
“We never met anyone who gave us a sidelong glance. They were really excited,” he said.
“I’m sure it’s probably shocking, but everyone I talked to thought it was awesome and actually gave me some advice.”
The trip didn’t happen on a whim, he said.
“We did a lot of research before we got to this,” he said.
“We spend a couple of months planning the equipment, where we want to go, what to expect, what is our criteria for what we want to ride, are we going to be close to land, what is the current like, what is the wind speed, the water. We try to take into account all possible factors, but we also recognize that yes, it is not an extremely safe thing to do.”
Alkassm said it took a couple of days to pick up an iceberg. The one they chose at Twillingate, he said, was close to shore, in shallow water and not drifting.
As Rice’s images gained traction online, the thrill-seeking duo had no idea of the controversy they’d stirred up.
Harold said he had been googling something and found the Breaking: story outlining Rice’s concerns.
“We don’t anticipate anything like that. We were surprised that this was going around the way that she did,” she said.
The pair know how dangerous their stunt was, Harold said, but pointed to other sports, like combat sports, that have very real consequences but are celebrated and glorified.
“People who climb Everest lose a lot of people every year, but they do it because they’re looking for something they really love,” he said.
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