Imagine this: four French explorers, under the banner of Deriv, embark on an awe-inspiring journey across the rugged terrains of Patagonia. It’s a narrative that intertwines the raw thrill of adventure, the rigour of scientific inquiry, and a deeply rooted sense of community outreach. 

Are you ready to dive into their story?

The Kahuna team enjoys the sunrise view at Campo de Hielo Continental Sur.
Baptistin and Robin enjoying the sunrise at Campo de Hielo Continental Sur.

The environmental expedition begins

Our protagonists, Baptistin Coutance,  Robin Villard, Thomas Jarrey, and Vincent Lavrov, kick-started their odyssey mid-January from Puerto Murta, Chile. The Kahuna team was all set with Yvan Lazard providing weather predictions from a distance and updating the world through WhatsApp. What awaited them was not just a geographical expedition but also a deep dive into the nature of water, ice, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

French explorers navigating the frozen terrain for the Kahuna expedition.
Four French explorers traversing over 200km of icy wilderness.

The challenges and triumphs of the Kahuna expedition

Navigating the waters of Lago General Carrera, descending the Rio Baker, and stepping onto the Campo De Hielo Continental, the world’s third-largest ice field, the team embarked on a challenging 4-week journey. They were tested, physically and mentally, as they traversed over 200km of icy wilderness and scaled peaks like Volcan Lautaro (3,607 metres) and Cerro Francisco Moreno (3,393 metres). This was no mere adventure; it was a quest intertwined with mountaineering challenges that pushed them to their limits.

An explorer setting up the pulkas on the infinite glacier.
Robin setting up the tent at the foot of the Volcan Lautaro volcano.

Beyond adventure

You might ask, why embark on such a perilous journey? The answer lies in pursuing knowledge and a commitment to make a difference. Amid Patagonia's untouched beauty, the team collected snow samples, searching for traces of microplastics and black carbon. In partnership with the Argentinian Institute of Nivology, Glaciology, and Environmental Sciences, they delved into the health of these ancient ice masses, contributing to our understanding of climate change.

Two explorers collecting snow samples as part of the Kahuna expedition.
Baptistin and Robin collecting snow samples for the research.

A broader purpose

This was shared with a broader purpose: to inspire and uplift. Working alongside charitable organisations like OSER and Cheer Up, associated with CentraleSupelec, the team aimed to bring a sense of adventure and hope to young cancer patients and underprivileged students. It’s a narrative that extends beyond the confines of their journey, touching lives and fostering a sense of community.

Hikers with their Deriv branded backpacks
Baptistin and Robin hiking with their heavy backpacks.

Unforeseen hurdles

Despite their preparedness, the team faced insurmountable challenges. Difficult weather conditions and impassable crevasses forced an early evacuation, cutting their expedition short by 10 days. On 27 February, Baptistin let us know, “The conditions on the ice cap were particularly difficult, and the weather left us no room for manoeuver. Both the initial route and the alternative routes proved impossible to complete due to fields of crevasses much larger than what was mapped (no passage possible between the Lautaro and the O’Higgins glacier). Stuck in the area and too far ahead to consider a U-turn, we were evacuated by helicopter this afternoon to Villa O’Higgins.”

Yet, undeterred, they found an alternative route to complete their journey to Puerto Natales, thanks to the kindness of a local Argentine, who assisted with their 300 kg substantial luggage.

The Kahuna team getting ready for their exploration
Baptistin fixing the ropes for his pulkas.

The Kahuna expedition continues

The end of their journey is not the end of the story. A documentary film is in the works, promising to bring their extraordinary adventures, scientific contributions, and the inspirational moments of their journey to life. It’s a story that promises to captivate, educate, and inspire, all while showcasing the spirit of adventure that drives us to explore the unknown.

The Kahuna team admiring the scenic evening view.
Baptistin, Robin, Thomas, and Vincent Lavrov admiring the scenic view of Volcan Lautaro.

Where curiosity meets impact

This mission, made possible by the expedition sponsorship of Deriv, isn’t just about adventure. It’s a statement about the human spirit — our boundless curiosity and our power to make a difference.  It shines a light on our global connection, urging us to protect our planet and celebrate its wonders.