Svalbard

Discover true wilderness in the polar regions on this remote 13 day ski crossing. In the winter Svalbard is a challenging environment. Skiing across the striking scenery of Svalbard, you will become self-sufficient in Arctic conditions and learn everything about Arctic travel.

13 days
height 1717M
grade grade grade grade grade grade
price 3895
Apr
2020

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Gateway               Longyearbyen

Daily distance       17km

Sled Weight          50kg

Temperature        -20 to – 30°C

Distance                      180km

Nights on ice               9

Ski/ snowshoe days    10

Challenge                     5

This was one of the most memorable trips of my life, there are only few experiences in this busy cluttered world that can deliver a true sense of wild remoteness and vast space, Svalbard can deliver this.” – Mark

 

Expedition Details

This is a pure ski or snowshoe trip. To be able to cross this cold, windswept and inaccessible environment in the far Arctic North, halfway between the northernmost tip of Norway and the North Pole, you know you have done something extraordinary.

Few places have a more dramatic nature. The majority of the island is covered in glaciers and permanent snow, and the mountain ranges are vast and varied, from gentle undulating hills to striking alpine peaks.

You will ski/snowshoe about 15kms per day, away from the main routes and in an area where snowmobiles are forbidden. Waking up in a tent that is pitched in remote glaciated mountain terrain, 100s of kilometers away from civilization, is an experience that will be with you forever.

We aim at teaching you the routines of sled pulling, camping in the snow and setting up polar bear deterrents. In this environment, weather conditions can change rapidly and the temperatures in spring-time vary from -10 to -30C. Preparation and correct equipment is vital, as well as learning how to operate and be self-sufficient in polar conditions.

 

Fitness requirements and experience

Good physical fitness is required to pull a 30kg pulk for 8 hours, several days in a row, camp out and deal with the cold. Some previous Nordic skiing experience is essential for a crossing on skis. For a snowshoeing crossing previous snowshoeing experience is preferable but not essential. As part of the preparations, we offer a training course, aimed at going through basic winter skills, equipment and routines to be as well prepared as possible.

The potentially extreme cold and the particular routines needed to remain safe and comfortable in the polar environment, can be tiring and requires a lot of self-discipline. You will be at an advantage if you have previously trekked and wild-camped in cold and snowy environments.

More Info

If you would like more information on this expedition you can download the full PDF trip details or drop us a line with your questions!



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.

 

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Food

Hauling a pulk in low temperatures for long days means you burn up to 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 send us a list with your preferred options.

Please let us know 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. 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.

Training Weekend

There are many ways in which you can train and prepare by yourself – but the best way is to come to our expedition training course which we organise as part of the trip. The dates are flexible, arranged to suit you, but the course generally runs 1-2 months before your expedition to allow you to get more training in and put the things learned into practice. The aim is to go through all the skills and equipment needed beforehand to be as well prepared as we can. It’s also a good opportunity to get to know your team mates, as operating closely as a team will be important on your expedition.

Where our training courses are based depends on the kind of skills we aim to teach: the Lake District, North Wales and Scotland are our usual locations. For this expedition, we will head to the Cairngorm plateau which is the perfect training ground for polar travel.

The training course is free of charge, but you will be required to cover your transport, food and accommodation.

More information on the training course will be given once 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. Our Svalbard expedition is a hard challenge, which is particularly suited to build up to more extreme expedition objectives such as Greenland, South and North Pole, or the Patagonian Icecap. 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 in Svalbard – 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 Polar bear protection 

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.

Most important for Svalbard, you will learn all about polar bear protection. Setting up a trip wire system around camp, practicing rifle shooting and maintaining the rifle. We have strict systems in place for polar bear protection which the whole team must know and follow, including polar bear watches and emergency procedures.

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, and is the area where preparation falls short in most cases. We provide advice in this area. 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
25th Apr 20207th May 202013£3895

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Call us on 01539 822967.

What is included:
• Snowmobile transport from Longyearbyen to Agardhbukta on the east coast
• 8 nights tented accommodation, 4 nights guesthouse
• All meals whilst on the expedition
• GPS, satellite phone and emergency beacon
• Experienced Polar guides
• Pulks and harness
• MSR XGK stove and fuel
• SAR Insurance
• Medical and repair equipment
• Pre-expedition training course

What is not included:
• Food and drink in Longyearbyen
• Personal equipment
• Travel insurance
• Optional tips
• Costs occurred due to earlier arrival back to Longyearbyen.

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.

 

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