Greenland Crossing

The ultimate ski expedition – a true goal to work towards. The expedition crosses the Greenland Glacier, the world’s second biggest sheet of ice. The aim is to cross the interior of Greenland from Kangerlussuaq (Sondre Stromfjord) on the west coast to Isortoq on the east coast.

31 days
height 2600M
grade grade grade grade grade grade
price
Apr
2020

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Gateway               Kangerlussuaq

Daily distance       15-30km

Sled Weight          80-60kg

Temperature        0 to – 30°C

Distance                      600km

Nights on ice               25

Ski/ snowshoe days    26

Challenge                     5

Expedition Details

Exped Adventure are running a Greenland Crossing in Spring 2020. Two years is a realistic timeframe for training and preparation and we are now accepting applications for places on our expedition team. Price on request. 

Our expedition crosses the Greenland Glacier, the world’s second biggest sheet of ice. The aim is to cross the interior of Greenland from Kangerlussuaq (Sondre Stromfjord) on the west coast to Isortoq on the east coast. West to East is the preferred crossing in the spring due to the climate conditions and ice melt. The entire expedition takes between 4 and 5 weeks. Exact dates will still be confirmed.

The first day is spent doing the last preparations and packing in Kangerlussuaq, a small village of about five hundred permanent residents that is 200 miles (323 kilometers) north of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk. Then we begin the drive to the edge of the icecap. The anticipation builds as the land yields to ice and the great icefalls come into sight. The initial stage of the expedition can be challenging as we find our way through the crevasses and as the pulks are still full, weighing nearly 80kg. We carry 30 days of rations. The conditions in the icefall depend greatly on the amount of snowfall during the winter. With little snow, it can be a fun struggle to get ourselves onto proper snow for skiing.

We will be out of the Icefall after some 3-4 days. The route gradually ascends and we reach good snow on top and the plateau. The going gets easier and the distances increase.  After 9 days (approximately) we reach the abandoned ‘Early Warning Radar Station’; DYE II, an eerie reminder of the Cold War.

At this point we have arrived on the inland ice and it is wonderful to gaze forward and see an uninterrupted sheet of ice stretching limitlessly to the horizon. When ¾ of the distance is covered we pass over the highest point on the route called the ‘Summit’. This long shoulder stretches out in a south-north direction, and marks the entry to the eastern side of the icecap. With that the wind should start coming in from behind. These katabatic winds consist of cold air flowing from the higher areas and down towards the ‘warm’ sea, where the warm air rises and with that sucks the cold air down, – sometimes in a violent fashion.

With these winds in the back and the terrain starting to drop, the last days will be a real treat as the distances almost double before the first Nunataks start showing on the horizon. Coming off the plateau and seeing the ocean and the mountains for the first time in 20 days is incredible.

On the last leg, we need full focus as we tread our way safely off the ice and onto the fjord and follow the thin ice until the edge. There we are picked up by boat and taken to Isortoq.

Isortoq is a small and very ‘authentic‘ fishing and hunting village, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, floating icebergs and mountains. It is the perfect way to round off our acquaintance with the wild Greenland.

Heading back homewards we will have to fly to Tasiilaq, the ‘Capital’ of the East-Greenland’, for and a good meal and a night, before flying home either via Iceland or Copenhagen.


 

 



 


 

Training and Preparation

Many wonder how to prepare best for a polar expedition. This will vary from trip to trip and for each individual. We provide a lot of advice and support before the start of the expedition to make sure that all team members are as best prepared as possible and we have a functioning team.

Food

Hauling a pulk in low temperatures for long days means you burn over 6,000kcal every day. The food we take is there to keep up your calorie count, but also your morale. We supply freeze-dried Mountain House ration packs as well as lunch packs. For breakfast and dinner there will be a variety of meals to choose from. Prior to the expedition you will be asked to sign up to our Portal and select your preferred options.

Please let us know in advance if you have special needs or concerns regarding food or nutrition, we will do our best to help.

Safety

Guide-Client ratio is maximum 1:3, which allows for close personal support for each expedition team member. Our teams carry a Personal Locator Beacon which sends out a signal via satellite to identify the approximate position of the party. We are also equipped with satellite phones, firearms and ammunition as a precaution and deterrent against a polar bear encounter. The expedition will begin with a rifle training session. Whilst essential in polar bear country, we will only use a rifle as a very last resort. Tent teams will be instructed in setting up a trip wire system around each tent as safety measure during the night.

Fitness Training

We provide personal training plans and advice for each participant as part of a 1-day Training Consultation, included in the trip package. For this expedition, signing up to the Training Consultation is mandatory, as it is a committing Grade 5 expedition. We’d like to make sure that the teams we take are reliable, skilled and as best prepared as possible.

We are contactable at any time to give individual advice on training and preparation. Our usual support includes talking through any questions on the phone, and we will be in regular contact with you in the build-up to the expedition to supply you with information, updates and reassurance where needed.

If you are looking for the fullest level of support and an in-depth training programme, read more about our Train for Extremes Polar Training programme. We are currently the only expedition company that offers full physical training support for our expeditions.

Training Weekend

An essential part of preparation for the expedition is our Norway training trip, which is part of the Greenland expedition package.  A week in mid-winter on the Hardangervidda Plateau provides a short, sharp shakedown of the highly specific expedition systems we use on the Icecap.  View here for more details on the expedition. Organised to run a few months before the main expedition, this is an opportunity to bring it all together; equipment, fitness and technique.  At this stage, you should be aiming to get confirmation that you’re well on track; there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises or big holes found in your prior preparation. It’s also a great opportunity to get to know your team mates and guides.

The training expedition is included in the trip price, but the inclusions and exclusions stated on the expedition page apply (View here).

More information on the training course and dates will be given when you’re signed onto the trip.

Equipment

Equipment is one of the areas we get the most questions on. Being well kitted out for a trip into extreme conditions is essential. Once you are signed up to a trip we will send you a kit list which explains thoroughly what you need. Why and how you use the equipment will be discussed on the training course. Our pre-expedition training course is designed to help you get familiar with the essential kit.

For our trips we supply most of the specialist equipment that is not easy for you to get yourself, either as part of the trip package or for rental. For your personal equipment we are able to offer advice on choosing the best kit, most of which we can order in for you at good discount prices. We are affiliated with Cotswold Outdoors, which means that our clients get 15% discount at all Cotswold Stores.

All of our trips have a strong focus on training and supporting participants to become self-sufficient in the polar regions. Before and during the expedition we will teach the skills which you will need for an independent expedition or to be a good team member in our and other expedition teams.

Campcraft, Equipment and Clothing 

The only true way to experience the polar regions is by being self-sufficient. Being comfortable and safe out there means paying great attention to detail, practice and techniques and adhering to a workable routine. The essential thing with polar camping is to keep things dry inside the tent. You will learn how to pitch the tent in strong winds or on icy surfaces, how to arrange the inside of the tent, how to secure the pulks outside and how to use snow shovels and a snow saw for cutting snow blocks to dig in the tent.

There’s an art to picking the right sleeping bag, right boots and proper clothing. The issues are knowing how cold it is likely to be, weight and volume issues, synthetic versus down considerations, and of course the budget available.

Our aim is for you to acquire more technical knowledge yourself and start to know what feels right and works for you. Head and face, hands and feet all need special attention as they are particularly vulnerable to frostbite and the chosen systems have to work faultlessly even under the harshest conditions.

Hazardous Conditions 

Experiencing different conditions, knowing what to expect and learning how to cope best is one of the most important things you will learn. Our rule of thumb is to be prepared for the worst and pleasantly surprised with the favourable.

There may be days of whiteout when cloud reduces contrast and definition and sky and horizon are merged into one. Any sense of scale and distance are lost, causing complete disorientation. It will be necessary to take compass bearings and know our rate of travel. Crosswinds, temperature and conditions underfoot can influence our direction and speed.

Strong wind and wind chill is common – we will learn to deal with this, looking at protective clothing and camp set-up.

The extreme cold comes with its own challenges and we will practice and revise routines and systems for this. Every task undertaken in the extreme cold will be far more difficult to complete than in warmer temperatures. GPS or batteries may not work, food and drink freezes, taking out a map with gloved hands becomes a struggle.

Food and Cooking 

You will learn how to keep your body fuelled for the strenuous physical exercise and about the routines of cooking in minus temperatures. (By the end of the expedition you will know the perfect fill-line for adding hot water to your dry ration!)

Sledge travel

Sledges are the essential thing about being self-sufficient. Sledge hauling is a self-contained and very efficient way of travel. Personal loads of up to three times the weight of those ‘backpackable’ can be hauled in relative comfort. Even complete beginners can soon learn how to haul on skis. You will learn about hauling and safety techniques as well as efficient packing.

Snowcraft and Snow conditions

We will cover snow and ice techniques, methods for roping up and other safety procedures needed for a polar environment. We will spend time re-practicing techniques and re-familiarising ourselves with all the equipment, trying out crampons and digging simple snow holes.

The surface of the ice sheet consists more or less of well packed snow that the constant wind sculpts into sastrugis. Some precipitation should be expected causing blizzards, bad visibility and difficult skiing and hauling condition. One or two days after snowfall the conditions should be good again, the snow well packed and skiing easy. In the event that the sastrugis are difficult, too high to easily haul pulkas over them, it is very important that expedition members arrange their gear into the pulka in a way that prevents them from rolling over. The expedition leader will be more than happy to advise you on how best to pack things into a pulka. The snow conditions can make the use of skins necessary, when climbing up the ice sheet. For the crossing we recommend rifled (crown/fish scales) skis for all participants except experienced cross country skiers. If someone opts for skis that need wax or klister, we will provide this and advise on how to use it. In the warmer temperatures on the lower parts of the ice sheet on the west side, there may be some complications with ski-wax, whereas rifled skis are perfect. In May there is less chance of precipitation, but some snow and even blizzards can be expected.

Fitness Training 

Where our programme is different to others, is our emphasis on fitness training. Having a solid fitness plan and targeted exercises to work with is essential to prepare your body for the stresses of a polar expedition. If you are extremely serious about your personal development in polar environments and have big targets in mind we can support your training with our Polar Training programme.

 

ADD A REVIEW

1 2 3 4 5

You will get to know your guides in person on the training course. Mark is the main guide on most expeditions, but he has teamed up with a handful of other guides who form part of the Exped team. All of our guides are capable and dedicated. They have the right attitude – both towards reaching the goal and towards their expedition teams. We strive for safety and mutual support in our teams, as well as having a bit of banter. All of us love adventure, but most of all we want to pass on our knowledge, share amazing experiences, and inspire others to be ambitious.

MARK WALKER

Mark is the director of Exped Adventure and the head guide on many of our expeditions. Mark is a highly experienced Expedition Leader and Mountaineering Instructor with over 20 years of mountaineering experience. Mark grew up in the English Lake District and has been climbing, running and walking in the mountains all over the world since he was a small child. He knows the Lake District, North Wales, Scotland and the Peak District like the back of his hand.

Mark has led a variety of expeditions to the far corners of the globe. He specialises in technical mountaineering and remote trekking expeditions. Mark grew up in the English Lake District and knows the area inside out.

Mark has put up new routes in the Lake District, Scotland, and Kenya. Climbing in all disciplines remains his passion.

Mark’s Expediton experience is broad and vast, including expeditions to Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Norway, Svalbard, Russia, and more.

Marks high altitude climbing experience includes; Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon, Ama Dablam, Aconcagua, Kyajo Ri, Elbrus, Tharpa Chuli, Singu Chuli, Mont Blanc, The Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and much more!

Mark lives in Windermere in the Lake District with his young family.

Mark is a certified ML, WML, IML and MIA.

MATT STAPLEY

Matt is an experienced outdoor instructor and has been in the industry for 12 years. He has worked with clients all over the UK, Peru, and Europe and has mountaineering experience in America, North Africa and Western and Eastern Europe. Matt’s personal interests include multi-day mountain marathons, ultra marathons and triathlons.

Matt is a certified ML, WML and MIA.

RICH MAYWHORT

Rich has 30 years experience of climbing and mountaineering, with 15 of those years as a professional Mountaineer and Climbing instructor. He has climbed and led clients extensively over the breadth of the UK and in the Alps.

With climbing and mountaineering experience over Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria, Canada, Slovenia, Greece, random islands and North Africa.

GARY FLETCHER

Gary has been working as Group Captain and Training Expedition Leader in the Royal Air Force for 25 years before taking on his current freelance work as Outdoor Instructor. He has led numerous White Water Kayaking expeditions to the French Alps and New Zealand, as well as Sea Kayaking expeditions in Scotland. He has been on expeditions to the High Atlas Mountains and Nepal, including Gokyo Ri (5357m).

 

TRACEY WRIGHT

Tracey is a highly experienced International Mountain Leader and also holds the Mountain Instructor Certificate. She has Alpine experience on touring and cross country skis, including summits of Weismeis, Pigne d’Arolla, Grand Paradiso and Mt Leone. She has lead mountaineering expeditions to Mt Kenya, including ascent of Diamond Couloir, Kilimanjaro, Bolivian 6000m peaks and Mont Blanc. She has extensive personal snow and ice mountaineering experience in New Zealand, the Alps and Scotland.
Currently, she is working as a maths teacher at an International school of Aiglon College, Chesieres, Switzerland where she assists with the Outdoor Ed programme throughout the year.

Outdoor national qualifications British Assoc of Snowsport Instructors Alpine Level 2, Cross Country Ski Leader; Mountain Instructors Certificate (winter climbing instructor); International Mountain Leader.

 

Start DateEnd DateDaysPriceAvailability
24th Apr 202024th May 202031£

Good

Prices for our 2020 expedition are on request. 

How to Book

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Call us on 01539 822967.

What is included:

  • All helicopter/boat transportation in Greenland
  • Highly experienced polar guide (maximum ratio: 1:6 skiers)
  • Expedition food
  • Transport from Kangerlussuaq to Point 660
  • Transport from Isortoq to Kulusuk
  • All joint equipment – tents, pulks, harnesses, burners, fuel, navigation, comms, repair, medical
  • Search And Rescue insurance
  • All permits
  • GPS, satellite phone, emergency beacon
  • 7-day pre-expedition training course on the Hardangervidda Plateau (More info on this expedition)
  • 1-day Training Consultation

What is not included:

  • Overseas airports taxes not paid in advance through the international airline ticket
  • UK flights and flight Kulusuk-Reykjavik
  • Personal equipment
  • Evening meal in Copenhagen
  • Bar bills and laundry
  • Excess baggage on all flights
  • Other expenses due to weather or safety reasons (delays)
  • Visa fees
  • Travel, medical and cancellation insurance
  • Optional trips and sightseeing tours
  • Tips

Booking – What happens next:

• The deposit reserves you a place on the trip. It is non-refundable according to our Booking Conditions. You will receive a confirmation of booking and further details about the trip.
• We will also supply you with more information on the training weekend and a complete equipment list.
• If you require a payment plan, get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can discuss the options.
• We will need you to fill in a Client Booking form for our records, regarding any health issues, your experience, insurance and next of kin details.
• The remaining balance will be due 8 weeks prior to departure (unless you arranged a payment plan). Any cancellations at this point are subject to our Booking Conditions.

 

Bespoke option:

We can organise this expedition on a ‘tailor-made’ private basis for groups of friends, families, clubs, charities or any other group. Please contact us to discuss the itinerary and your preferred dates. We will then send you a quote, with no obligation.

 

Insurance:

You will need a travel insurance policy that caters for the activities you will undertake on your trip with Exped Adventure. It is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have such a policy. For advice on best policies get in touch.

Our greatest focus in building our expedition teams is to find people with sufficient commitment to train and prepare. Generally, expect the lead time to build up the fitness and experience required to successfully complete the expedition to be between 1-2 years depending on your background.  Training should be continuous and progressive. A solid background in endurance sports like running or hiking long distance is a good starting point but additional structured training is essential.  As important as general endurance training is specific training: placing any training in the context of hauling a pulk that weighs 80 kg at the outset for up to 30 days means that you will have to balance ultra-endurance training with strength training and targeted exercises.

If you are looking for the fullest level of support and an in-depth training programme, read more about our Train for Extremes Polar Training programme. We are currently the only expedition company that offers full physical training support for expeditions.

The potentially extreme cold and the particular routines needed to remain safe and comfortable in the polar environment, can be tiring and require a lot of self-discipline. You will be at an advantage if you have previously trekked and wild-camped in cold and snowy environments. If you’re not used to working in such a cold climate, look into ways in which you can gain experience.  Whilst the training course will focus on the specific techniques used on the expedition, this experience is only a part of getting prepared.

An essential part of preparation for the expedition is our Norway training trip, which is part of the Greenland expedition package.  A week in mid-winter on the Hardangervidda Plateau provides a short, sharp shakedown of the highly specific expedition systems we use on the Icecap.  View here for more details on the expedition. Organised to run a few months before the main expedition, this is an opportunity to bring it all together; equipment, fitness and technique.  At this stage, you should be aiming to get confirmation that you’re well on track; there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises or big holes found in your prior preparation.

For those who haven’t got previous experience of a long and arduous ski journey, we’re offering a polar training course in the form of a 5-day ski expedition through Huldreheimen, the details of which can be viewed here.  This expedition is a perfect opportunity to gain in experience and confidence. (Please note, this expedition is not part of the Greenland package and has to be booked separately.)

Participants should expect long and hard days throughout the journey. As such, the expedition is only suitable for people that are both physically and mentally prepared for a highly engaging experience. Be aware that the mental aspect is often more challenging on expeditions like this than the physical one. Therefore, it is of great importance that participants are ready to deal with unexpected and challenging circumstances, since they can be stressful.

Expedition members must be prepared to be confronted with cold weather, strong winds, fresh snow and even blizzards. Also expedition members should be ready for very challenging camping and camp life in bad weather conditions. In this environment, weather conditions can change rapidly and the temperatures in spring-time vary from 0 to -30C. Preparation and correct equipment is vital, as well as learning how to operate and be self-sufficient in polar conditions.

The Greenland Crossing is a real Polar expedition and needs to be approached as such. The expedition follows a set routine and we will soon get into the rhythm of expedition life. Each day is divided into different skiing periods. The pulks are at their heaviest and the slopes the steepest when the team sets out from the West Coast. We therefore plan on gradually ‘acclimatising’ to the workload of pulk-hauling by gradually increasing the number of hours skiing; in the opening stages, this tends to be 6 hours and towards the end, up to 9 or even 10.

We take regular short breaks throughout the day, where the expedition members can grab a snack and a drink and at noon there is a longer stop for lunch. It is not advisable to carry a backpack as all the gear should be stored inside the pulka. The best thing is to keep all necessary gear for the day, such as the day’s food, a down parka and other essentials, extra hats, gloves etc. on top of the pulka where this is easily accessible. Individual snacks can be carried in your jacket pockets where they are easily accessible for snacking on the go and won’t freeze. Each evening camp is set up, snow is melted for plenty of tea/hot drinks and dinner is prepared by each tent team. After breakfast, camp is broken and the first walking period starts.

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