Greenlandcrossing on skis
Join us on one of the world’s most beautiful ski trips! Hvitserk is the leading operator when it comes to crossing Greenland’s ice sheet. Using our vast experience we set up a motivated group that will after careful preparation and training be ready to face the challenge of crossing the massive ice cap of Greenland. A distance of 600 kilometer from coast to coast.
This is a challenging expedition. You will have the chance to put yourself at a test in arctic environments. Teamwork, good humor and great will power will be as important as your physical capacity. It requires thorough preparation, but once you put your skis on the ice, you will not regret it! Leaving in spring we head from west to east. And just like the famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen we pull our sleds.
There is no greater experience than crossing this polar plateau. At first we make our way up over a massive glacier tongue. We will have wonderful days as far away from civilization as you can get before land will come in sight again. And this moment we will never forget. On account of careful preparation that we will do together we will be able to execute this trip in a happy and safe manner. And so become infected by the Arctic fever, the appetite for more chronically…
The crossing of the inland ice with ski and sled is probably the most physically demanding trip we have on the program. Prepare well, and we promise that this will be the experience of a lifetime!
Nansen’s crossing of the great ice sheet in 1888 was a sensation. It did not only put Norway on the map, but it also made its skiing culture an essential part of polar exploration. With regard to this crossing Greenland’s ice cap is something very special. It is an excellent opportunity to set oneself a goal that is both challenging and exceptional. In fact, crossing Greenland means to accomplish something very few have done. Not many have been on top of Mount Everest, but even fewer have crossed Greenland.
Many routines will fall into place during the first week. Based on our previous expeditions to Greenland and the polar regions, we keep a fairly firm daily program. Being 7 - 8 effective hours in front of the sleds we cover approximately 30km on an average per day. The crossing usually takes around 23 days, but this varies due to weather conditions. After a week all the food begins to taste good and you eat more and more. Then we pass the huge, abandoned U.S. radar station DYE II. After a day of rest, we continue towards the next goal: the route’s highest point at about 2.500meters of altitude. However there is no point in looking forward to skiing downhill after the "summit", nevertheless the sled will have become a little bit lighter and thus the daily covered distances increase slowly in length. Only after another couple of days further east the glacier begins to exhibit different terrain formations again. The glacier tongue on the east coast is less demanding than the one on the west coast, nonetheless its melt water channels and large crevasses represent plenty of challenges to master. Once down by the sea in the village Isortoq we are picked up by helicopter and transported to the city Tasiilaq. There we live in a guesthouse that is specially designed for adventurous people doing an excursion. Also by helicopter we start our way home. First we fly to Kulusuk and from there we take an airplane via Iceland to Norway. No later than at this point you will realize that you have mastered a classic polar expedition. This will certainly boost your confidence!
Guide / expedition leader:
Small group of international participants with hand-picked, experienced expedition leader from Hvitserk.
Nansen's book, "The First Crossing of Greenland" from 1890, started with the following sentence: "Over the Greenlandic inland ice, as it is called, had as yet no human sole found its way, though many had tried. No one therefore knew for sure, what it looked like in its interior. To find out about this and to go across this land, from the east coast to the west coast, a small group of six men set off from Norway in May 1888."
If you want to know more about what happened you will have to read the book. If you want to know how it felt like to cross the ice, well then you will have to join us on this trip!
Level of difficulty:
There is no reason to underestimate the physical challenge of such an expedition. Regular training is required. You will have to be able to ski all day. Your sled will contain your own equipment plus your part of the shared common equipment. That means you will have to pull at least 60-65 kg at the start. This is difficult if not impossible if you are not prepared! We will all have to get in shape before this trip. You should make yourself a training program that you follow until departure. The trip requires motivation and good attitude. Everyone has bad days and then it helps to get some support of the others. Greenland is a good place to be if you choose the right time to come and if you make the necessary preparations. Do not be intimidated by storytellers who like to exaggerate when it comes to sub-zero temperatures and wind chill. We will adjust our speed according to the conditions, nevertheless about 8 hours of skiing time is standard for each day.
There will be one or two mandatory briefings that involves both discussions about the required equipment and training sessions. This meeting will take place on a long weekend in way ahead the departure. It will be led by the guide. We will chose a location around Oslo or somewhere in the mountains - depending on snow conditions and what proves most convenient – for this occasion. During this weekend you will have the chance to get to know the other participants of the trip and your Hvitserk guide.
The ability of each participant to do this trip will be evaluated. Please understand that we reserve the right to refuse participation.
This expedition requires you to train systematically in good time before departure. The two things you should do are: go skiing while pulling something heavy with a rope behind you! As a participant you should also be able to do these things: set up a tent in wind and fire up and cook on a primus stove.
Hvitserk puts great emphasis on safety. We have navigation equipment, emergency beacons, satellite phones, medical equipment, ropes and safety equipment regarding the demands of such a trip. In addition, we have the necessary permits which are required, for instance search and rescue insurance that covers evacuation by air in case of serious injury/illness, etc.
We conduct our trips in a way that minimizes risk exposure. On this trip we will always stay close to each other, and if an unforeseen situation occurs we will be ready to react. There is a 24 hour on-call duty at home while we are on tour. Medics/nurses are always ready to assist our guides by telephone. In addition, we have good local contacts which are ready to help us if there is a problem.
Hvitserk is responsible for all shared equipment such as safety equipment, navigation equipment, repair tools, medical equipment, tents, stoves, cookware + sled with harness. You are responsible for your personal gear. We require that everyone has the same ski boots and the same binding system. Everyone gets a detailed list from us upon registration. What’s more your gear will be carefully checked during the briefing weekend.
Late april and may is normally a cold time on the ice. However temperatures can be anything between –350C at night to 00C and rain. It is rarely possible to cook and eat outside the tents during the trip. There is a distinctive meteorological divide at the trip’s highest point. The probability of heavy precipitation is greatest on the east side.
We do skicrossings every spring (Late April to mid May). Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining one of our expedtionteams. We recomend you to sign up at least a year before departure - to give you enough time for preparations.
DAY 1: MEET IN COPENHAGEN
Accommodation in Copenhagen at Zleep Airport Hotel, a short train ride from the airport.
DAY 2: Copenhagen - Kangerlussuaq. Packing and preparation.
Kangerlussuaq, a small community located at the end of a majestic, 170-kilometer long fjord. Around 600 tough inhabitants. The city's dynamic, commercial airport served originally as a base for the U.S. Air Force. It was built during in World War II and the Americans kept using it until they left in 1992. Today the airport is the starting point for excursions into the remote and pristine areas surrounding it.
We spend the day making the sleds ready. That means we pack food, fuel and all other equipment that we need to cross the ice sheet. At this point we are about to kick off and the excitement is rising!
In the evening we enjoy a good dinner together and then we say goodbye to civilization!
DAY 3: Kangerlussuaq - Transport to Point 660.
This is a spectacular ride! We drive through the desert Sandflugtdalen and approach the majestic glacier. The distance to the land on the other side is about 580 km… We begin the ascent straightaway. As we do our crossing in May the glacier might still be loaded with snow all the way down. But if there is no snow we have to walk a few hours on foot with the skis on our backs.
DAY 4 - 5: Ascending.
We use a couple of days on the ascent. The route goes up in hilly terrain with stunning ice formations. It can be quite a job to handle the sled in this area, so we take it slow.
DAY 6 - 16: On the ice sheet.
We ski across the plateau. Our way goes gently, very gently uphill. On some days the temperature will drop under minus 20oC. We can expect to do daily stages of 15-25 km, depending on the conditions of the terrain and how we feel. It is important not to push too hard, and we have to take into account that everyone reacts differently to such an unfamiliar daily routine. After 9-10 days we reach the abandoned radar station DYE II.
DAY 17 - 21: Some long marches - and finally downhill?
The distance between DYE II and the highest point of this route (about 2.500m above sea level) is endless and flat. We will spend around five days travelling through this area. This is an almost unreal, in any case fascinating and breathtaking experience! But do not get your hopes up for an easy downhill section after this passage to the "summit". It will take another 2-3 days, before one can sense that the terrain begins to drop.
DAY 22 - 23: Wild, wet and beautiful.
The last kilometers are perhaps the most fascinating. We move slowly down to the sea following a carefully planned route. This is challenging but safe. We continue until the ice ends and meets the open sea. Having finally reached the land on the other side we will realize that we have just completed the crossing of the great inland ice of Greenland. This will be an emotional moment. Many hugs and maybe some tears of joy later we are picked up by boat and taken to Isortoq. Isortoq is a village in the Ammassalik municipality, in southeast Greenland. The name means "misty sea". The reason for this is that the icebergs which are drifting around in the sea stir up sand. This makes the water murky. Isortoq is the municipality's southernmost settlement. It is located on a flat island with the Denmark Strait being its nearest neighbor. Only 5 km further to the northeast, at the end of Isortoqfjorden, ends also the Greenland ice sheet. This is the reason for the harsh climate that prevails here. Isortoq has about 100 inhabitants.
DAY 24: Leaving the glacier behind.
Transportation by helicopter to Tasiilaq where we stay overnight at a hotel. Your travel clothing which was sent by post mail from Kangerlussuaq (before the expedition started) will be waiting for you.
DAY 25: Tasiilaq - Kulusuk – Reykjavik.
It is time to go home again. We take a helicopter from Tasiilaq - Kulusuk. From here we fly via Iceland eastwards. We enjoy a complimentary dinner in Reykjavik together. This will be just the right ending to our trip.
Day 26: Reykjavik - return home
We leave early to get to the airport. This takes around an hour. If we are lucky we will see Vatnajøkul, Iceland's largest glacier. And finally we are back home again. Living our everyday life after an amazing trip!
The program is just an outline. It will be changes due to weather, conditions and flights.