Greenland fall – East to west
This is where Polar Exploration really started with Nansen’s crossing in 1888. And till today it stands out as the most important expedition you can take on. If you have conquered The Inland Ice you are ready for everything!
This trip, with it’s challenging Icefalls, vast planes, surprising altitude and changeable conditions, will give you lots of experience, happiness, an insight into the importance of teamwork and maybe even tidy up the inside of yourself.
- To step off the ice and onto land after 3 weeks endurance is a moment to savour for life!
Food and equipment
Joining a trip to the cold world, being outdoors for many days in a row, sleeping in a tent, skiing for about 8 hours on an average a day, still being able to keep up the pace, spirit, motivation, strength and also being able to enjoy it, obviously requires some attention to equipment.
Once you sign up for one of our trips, we will send you the complete and detailed equipmentlist that explains thoroughly what you need for the specific trip, why and how to use the equipment.
One of the main reasons we have had great success on our many trips, is because we supply the essential equipment that is not easy (nor practical) for you to get yourself. These items are essential in getting you through the day in a good way and ensure that you have a safe and trustworthy experience.
The equipment you need to get yourself might look like a lot, but this is usually items people will already have or could borrow from friends. You might have to buy some of it, but we will help you choosing the right equipment and all this will be discussed in detail with each and one of you. Then you should have a good set of usable equipment that you will be able to enjoy for many future trips as well.
The weight of the sled will depend on which trip you are going on as fuel and food adds up for each day with about 1,3 kilos. Some trips also require special equipment like climbing gear, polar bear protection, waterproof bags, etc. Sometimes we have to carry our stuff in backpacks to reach the glacier or good skiing ground, but we do not load to more than max 30 kilos, it is better to go two times.
On an average we can say that a sled weigh as follows:
- North Pole Last Degree 40 kg
- North Pole Full Length (with/without supplies) 75 kg /110 kilos
- South Pole Last Degree 40 kg
- Patagonia, Northern Icecap, 50 kg
- Greenland Spring 52 kg
- Greenland Fall 55 kg
- Svalbard – Nordaustlandet 40 kg
- Svalbard – Spisbergen crossing 40 kg
- Finnmarksvidda 30 kg
- South Georgia 40 kg
To best prepare for pulling the sled and carrying in backpacks, refer to the training and preparations info. This topic will also be covered more into detail once you have signed up. If you are curious and want some more info either way, let us know.
We provide nutritious expedition food for each participant for all the days skiing. It will be enough calories for the trip, but if you feel like having some extra snacks, please feel free to bring it.
There will always be personal choices. We provide several types of freeze-dried dinners, and lunch with a mix of what you like best. Our selection of food to choose from is based on long experience where energy, taste and also preparation are key factors. We have limited time for breaks during the day, about 12-15 minutes at normally every 1,5 hours intervals.
Our normal day-to-day diet:
Børge’s homemade enriched oatmeal/porridge mix.
Choice of: Fruit soup or energy drink for hot water. Compressed biscuits rations and/or Flapjack (oatmeal cakes).
And/or potatochips, nuts and dried fruit.100-150 g chocolate per day. About 100 g piece of dried meat.
Choise of freeze dried dinners. Our partner for dinner is Real Turmat www.real.no. Instant soup, hot chocolate, coffee or tea as you wish.
All the food will be packed by you in daily rations and stored in bags provided by us prior to departure. There is always a day or so with packing and organizing before we start the trip. You will carry your own food and be responsible for it during the expedition.
Food- allergies or intolerances:
If you have any food- intolerances or allergies, we will together with you (and possibly with your doctor) advice the different ingredients you need to ensure the best nutrition but which is adapted to the diet you follow. You should test this beforehand to avoid any unpleasant surprises on the way.
If you need to be on a special diet, we recommend that you yourself prepare most of your food at home before we leave, so that you are sure to get what you need. It will in most cases be a possibility to ship the food to the destination beforehand together with the rest of the equipment.
Please let us know if you have special needs or concerns regarding food or nutrition, we will do our best to help.
Day by day
Day 1. Most of us will go via Iceland and will meet up in Reykjavik for a leisure evening together. We arrive at the Keflavik International Airport. Stay together in a guesthouse and enjoy a relaxed dinner out on town.
Day 2. Early the next morning we depart from the downtown airfield and 2 hours later we land among the spectacular mountain on the east coast at Kulusuk Island. From here the shuttle helicopter takes us in to Tasiilaq, a very picturesque town and the ‘capital’ of the east coast. We check in and go straight to the store for shopping. The rest of the day is packing and preparing, - but we will not drop our last served meal in a restaurant…
Day 3. The first half of the day is all about finishing preparations and change into the expedition clothing that will stay on for the next 3 weeks. Then we put the clean “civilian” clothes in the mail to be sent to the other side and take lunch.
In the afternoon we board a small boat and leave for the Isortoq area. This is a spectacular and wonderful experience as we pass lots of icebergs. Depending on the ice, we arrive in the fjord inside Isertoq (a tiny, but very authentic hunting and fishing village) in early evening. From here we carry everything a short distance up to a cabin where we plan to stay the night. We say plan, as both storms and local festivities may have rendered it uninhabitable.
Day 4. Early the next morning we set off. We walk on foot on hard and icy surface. The first part is easy, but later in the day the ice roughen as we start gaining altitude. How far we get is impossible to plan. Sometimes the winter has dumped lots of snow and combined with a cold summer the crevasses can be mostly filled up. If the contrary is the case, and maybe with extreme melting during summer, we may be facing huge crevasses, melt rivers and even crevasses filled with water! It is never the less a wonderful game of chess against a cunning opponent called ‘Mother Earth’!
What is for sure is that we will be up against some pretty wild, bumpy and challenging ice that will test out stamina and mind-set.
Day 5-6 (approx.). Second and / or third day on the ice we negotiate the field with the biggest crevasses. Here we will have to zigzag a lot and find the safest way. But on the other side we can normally have good use of the skis and start to make distances.
Day 7-12 (or 13?). Even out of the lower icefall, we have to work hard. On the big rolling hills we rapidly gain altitude, but normally the ski-conditions are good. Gradually we are out of the coastal zone and the chance of rain is diminishing as the polar climate takes over.
We hardly recognize that the last mountains disappear under the horizon as we now are focused on the west and the plains.
We are heading into the katabatic wind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katabatic_wind and get little rest till the landscape gradually eases out. After some 10 days the wind fluctuates, the weather hesitates as we get closer to the highest point. This is called ‘Summit’ and is a long and rounded ridge going in south-north direction up Greenland. In the fall, the low pressures hitting Greenland from Canada in the west, and the low pressures building up between Iceland and Greenland fight for supremacy and can play games with us…
Normally we put in a rest day in this area, but instead of planning it we let the let the weather decide what day is best.
Day 13-16. As we clear the highest area the winds stabilizes (normally) and start coming in from behind. At the same time we move into the flattest par of the journey. These plains here are beautiful and we do great distances. If the weather is good, DYE II will show at the horizon when we are several days away! It comes and goes a bit, but this makes navigation very much easier. As we get there we camp and may enjoy half a rest day. Apart from having a look at the monstrous relic from the cold war, we go over the equipment, sleep, eat and drink.
Day 17-22. Soon after leaving DYE II we come across the first lakes filled with melt water from the summer. They are frozen up, but give an indication that more is to come. Over the next days the ice roughen again as we start loosing altitude. We do great distances, but from year to year there can be huge differences in the amount of havoc the melting has done to the ice. If the summer has been cold and the frost has arrived early with snow we may get to 50km from land with no obstacles. If the contrary is the case the fight begins here and the ice looks like a stormy ocean frozen up in a millisecond. It is hard work but at he same time just so incredibly fascinating!
Day 23-27. Exactly how many days we will use, are as you may understand, impossible to predict. But that is the greatness of the autumn crossing. If your mind can take this and not getting downcast by one surprise after another, then you know you are bred for bigger things!
As we dip into the icefall the smaller rivers grow in sizes and we have to negotiate riverbeds 10-20 metres wide and with 10 metre steep sides (hopefully with only some water still left as the mega melting from the plateau has stopped). But now we have sighted land for the first time, and spurred on we stretch the days and muster everything as we slowly make our way towards land. Sometimes it may take hours to complete just a kilometre, but the satisfaction of fighting our way gradually closer is immense! And as we step off the ice in unison we feel the biggest accomplishment!
Later that day we are picked up by a car and driven to Kangerlussuaq. It is time for a beer, a shower and a loooong meal.
Day 28. The flight back to Copenhagen, does not leave every day. And as you will understand we do not know if we will use 21 of 25 days, so we recommend tickets that you can change.
Then we head for Home via Copenhagen (all letting the adventure sink in and – pondering where to go next?).
This is a different challenge. This is the same time of year Nansen and his men fought to be the first to cross the big and unknown White. He chose the East coast as the starting point, not for its climate- and condition advantages at this time of the year, but for the simple fact that with very few inhabitants, turning back and overwintering was no option. Proclaiming ‘The west coast or Death’ they set out – and succeeded.
Everyone crossing at this time of the year will fully comprehend the task, the effort and the heroics of the 1888 pioneers.
So! If you are this tiny bit more adventurous, this is the time for you to go.
We will meet up in Tasiilaq on Monday the 19th August and set off by boat on the 20th towards Isortoq, where we will camp right under the icecap. The next morning we start off and through the next days ‘play chess’ with the Icefall. Rivers and streams at first, then rolling landscape with ice like a rough sea suddenly frozen into a wild theme-park before the big crevasses try to bar us from the snowfields higher up. This part of the trip is hard, tremendous and a satisfying challenge.
Once we are up on good snow, distances increase as we slowly gather altitude. The wind is trying to push us back, but as we get closer to the ‘Summit’ at approximately 2500-2600 metres, the wind comes from all kinds of directions. This is often due to interaction between the autumn low pressures that hit Greenland from Canada on one side and other storms playing between Iceland and Greenland on the other. It sharpens our senses and we learn to go with the flow and maximise the conditions when they are extra good.
After some two weeks we pass by DYE II, now totally silent. This in stark contrast to the spring trip when a manned camp is operating and maintaining a ‘snow- and ice-runway’ for Hercules planes. They train here on snow landings with skis before serving in Antarctica later in the year. The area is now deserted and the goofy ‘building’ stands out in silence.
Normally the first periods of cold set in late in August. This immediately retards the melting process and the huge rivers dwindle into small streams and the lakes up on the plateau will soon be frozen over.
Not far out of DYE we see the first signs of these. Slowly the terrain starts dropping off and the surface gets more sculptured. By the time we drop down to the Icefall, the huge gullies left open by the melt rivers makes us work hard for progress. Lower down we still come across water left in 10 - 15 meter deep riverbeds with vertical sides giving us testing detours and big jumps. At this point the spirit better be high as this labour is not for sissies…
Sometimes progress is reduced to a scant kilometre in several hours. But land is in sight and this spurs us on. As we step off the ice we are in awe of Nansen and his team. The day is Sunday the 15th September and the end of season as the Inland ice goes into ‘no-go’ modus for the winter.
We’re picked up at Height 660 and after a scenic drive we find ourselves in Kangerlussuaq for the first beer, first shower and a big celebration meal.
Training and preparing
Many wonder how to prepare physically for a polar expedition. This will vary from trip to trip and also for each individual. We will therefore provide individual training programs and advice for each participant if needed.
In general we expect people to carry a 20 kg backpack for 8 hours for several days on a row. That’s a physical exercise that is easy to measure, but actual training can and will consist of various methods.
Training and physical preparation for these trips typically consist of at least 3 training sessions a week for at least one hour each. Gradually this should be increased to 4 sessions a week, three months before departure, including one or two longer sessions lasting for more than two hours.
A combination of cycling, jogging, workout in the gym, walking with backpack or pulling rubber tyres is what we recommend. Its not where you do it that matters, but that you do it. Remember that a cycling session in the gym or a hard work out on the walking machine can be equally as efficient as a session outdoors.
There are two main issues with specific training. One is the physical shape needed to endure the trip you have signed up for and secondly to make your muscles, tendons and ligaments, basically the whole body, prepared for the load on the way. Not to forget the third reason, that physical training in general is very positive, something you will benefit from after the expedition as well. So, its only one thing to do when the goal is set, start training!
Note: Be careful in the beginning, start at a level you feel comfortable with and increase gradually. If you start out too hard you might experience overtraining and injuries. Consult a doctor or physician if you experience injuries. Don’t forget to stretch out well after each session. Eating well and healthy will also help preparing your body for the upcoming adventure. The trips are not super hard, but you will enjoy it more when you have done your homework and taken training and preparation serious.
You can read Borges recipe and training program for his big trips here, there might be a few useful tips for you as well!
As part of the preparations, we organize a weekend of training in Oslo late in late January. The aim is to go through the basic skills for winter survival in order to be as well prepared as possible. We go through all the equipment and routines. During this training weekend we also get to know each other a bit beforehand, as becoming a team is an important part of the whole concept. We also open for one-on-one talks with those who would like to get some personal advise.
The training weekend in Oslo.
Friday 24th of January to Sunday 26th in the afternoon.
Joining the training weekend is free of charge.
We will cover most of the basic equipment, some food, tents etc, except personal equipment like clothes ski boots etc. This is also a great time to go to the sport shop, since some of the equipment needed for trips like this can be hard to find outside Norway. We can assist you with this as well.
You need to cover your flight tickets coming here, food and lodging before and after the training outdoors (if any, as the nights mainly will be spent in tents outdoors).
The training is voluntarily but highly recommended. This will help you and us to evaluate your assumptions and to put focus on the key points for further exercise and practice
More info on the training trip will be distributed when signing up for one of our trips.
We also do a extended training trip: The Finnmarksvidda Crossing
Every February for 5 days and 4 nights around the time of full-moon.
Finnmarksvidda is in Northern parts of Norway, above the Arctic Circle. This trip is a great way to train and learn the ropes of basic winter survival. It is a 4 day mini expedition that is relevant, cold and stunning as we very often have the Northern lights at night. Timed with the full February moon we normally have enough natural light for skiing as well.
The Finnmark trip is one of our regular trips (refer to the complete overview for all trips) but if you already are booked on any of our other trips, you will receive a discount.
Rates, dates and booking
The dates 2014:
20.08 – 16.09
We are going back both in 2014 and 2015. There might be some changes to the dates and price compared to 2013. The program will stay the same.
Contact us for more details or if you have any questions, or complete the booking if you know which year you can go.
6 Participants - 75.000,-
To be paid in full 90 days before departure, (minus the deposit). Refunding/pulling out clauses are dealt with in our Travel Conditions.
What is included: We do all paperwork and cover the fees (applications, permits for the crossing, radio / communication, weapons) and pay the Search & Rescue insurance; We will supply: food, sledges, tents, stoves, fuel, safety equipment like Iridium satellite phone, emergency beacon, VHF radio, GPSs, maps and waypoints; We pay for transport to or from Height 660, boat transport from Tasiilaq to starting point or the return with scheduled helicopter; We are responsible for the medical bag, spares and rep bag + a training weekend - and we answer to every question you may have.
What is not included: You bring your own personal clothing, skis, boots and poles, sleeping bag, mattress and stuff-bags. You choose and pay your own flights and pay for board and lodging during the days right before and after the ice. You must have your own travel / cancelation insurance, travel to and from the training weekend. You may be asked to contribute if you have food allergies etc so that we can be sure you have enough, safe and high quality food. Any unforeseen delays or change of plan by the group may also result in extra cost. We recommend return tickets that can be changed.
The Deposit: We will send you a Deposit Invoice of 10.000,- NOK approximately 6 months before departure or before if you book late. The system works as follows: Your Booking Form will give you a place in the queue. But it is not binding in any way. It only gets serious as you receive a Deposit Invoice. This is refundable according to our Travel Conditions. But this means you are in and the trip is on!
Booking - How to proceed
- If this is something for you, - send us the booking for your desired trip and your place is reserved. This will be kept for you until you have paid the deposit invoice. Then your place is guaranteed until the remaining amount is due.
- You will then receive our expedition-booklet that gives you more information about the trip, insurances, safety, personal training tips towards the trip, as well as info on the training in Oslo (for more info, refer to the training and preparations menu)
- We will also supply you with the complete equipmentlist and work with you to ensure that you know what is needed and included from both your- and our side.
- Personal information-form. By signing up on a trip, we need you to fill in a form for our records regarding health issues, your recent outdoor experiences- and background, passport- and insurance info as well as next-of-kin details.
- The invoice for the remaining amount will be sent to you about 3 months prior to departure (for some destinations the due-dates might be more than 90 days prior to departure. After full payment have been settled, you are guaranteed to get your place for your desired trip. You still have the right to cancel at this point, but depending on how close we are to the departure, some of our basic costs will have to be deducted from the deposit. (For more details on this refer to our terms & conditions)
|Duration:||Approx. 23 days|
|Sheduled for:||2014, 2015, 2016|
|Participants:||6 + 1 guide|