Across Greenland 2018

Six women’s adventure in an ice labyrinth, avoiding crevasses, several storms, fourteen hours of skiing, a helicopter evacuation, doubt about the success of the expedition; here are some examples of what our eventful Greenland crossing included.

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WHY GO?
During my exchange years in Norway I got my first experiences of winter touring. I totally fell for it! In recent years I have participated in expeditions in Sweden’s Sarek, on Iceland’s Vatnajökull glacier and on the glacier landscape of Svalbard. As the trend seems to do more challenging trips progressively, crossing Greenland by skis was naturally the next challenge for me. After all, it has for long been a big dream for me to cross Greenland by skis. Aren’t dreams made to come true?

 

THE ICE LABYRINTH
At last it was the day when we stood on the edge of the glacier near the village of Kangerlussuaq! Our eyes were facing east and it was a great feeling! One year of preparations were behind. At last we were beginning what we had been practicing for so long. The first days we navigated our way in the ice labyrinth, looking for the best route towards the icecap. With crampons on our feet we walked up and down along different ice humps with house-sized ice cliffs on our sides. Sometimes it was impossible to find a suitable direct route because of the deep crevasses. Our GPS track had formed a zigzag pattern. Because of the 80 kg behind us in our sleds, the speed was not breathtaking. At some points, we had to push one sled at a time – that can you call teamwork!

 

ON THE ICECAP
Eventually the ice labyrinth disappeared when the snow cover thickened. We had reached the icecap! Our next goal was to ski more than 20 km a day. Unfortunately, one of the expedition members had got severe abdominal pain, and we understood that our goal was impossible to achieve. Since her condition did not improve, we made a decision about medical evacuation by helicopter. We were prepared for a three-day delay due to storms, but these days were now used when we waited for the evacuation flight. We so hoped that a storm would not hit us at the end of the trip.

 

THE RADAR STATION
After the helicopter evacuation we extended our ski distances. We visited the abandoned and icy DYE2 radar station. An awesome dome building rose in the middle of the snow field. Like other expeditions, we left our name both in the guest book and on the dome wall. We wondered about the amount of goods left behind, like beer bottles and household machines! It was like the time had stopped in the 80’s. Even a Christmas ham was waiting on the table!

 

STORM DAYS
Then the storm hit us … 30 m/s winds forced us to spend a couple of days in tents. This meant that we needed to extend our day distances to the end of the trip, to get to the east coast in time. However, this was not the only storm we encountered, but a third full storm day was still to be spent in the tents. Our trip had now become a race against the clock! The conditions were so difficult, that we were uncertain if we would get in time to the east coast, to the plane waiting for us there. However, we had such a huge motivation to get over the glacier, so finally we skied quite absurd day distances. 14 hours and 40 km were at the end a normal day…

 

AT THE COAST
We looked forward to a decent downhill after the half way, but we had to wait to the last day for the real downhill … What a joy it was to ski the last meters with the land in sight!. After 30 days and 576 km we reached our goal! Thanks to the team’s great humor and will! One more night was in front on the polar bear area. We ended our ski tour on a rocky cliff where we found a small hut. We slept the last night safely inside the hut, where we waited for the morning’s helicopter lift.

 

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Greenland plans for 2018

Greenland map

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Grönlantisuunnitelmia

Jippii! Viimeinkin vuosi on vaihtunut ja tänä vuonna on sitten isompi seikkailu edessä: Olen lähdössä Grönlantiin huhtikuussa 2018! Tavoitteena on hiihtää Grönlannin yli lännestä itään. Reissu on Ankarat Avotunturit -organisaation järjestämä ja meidän retkikuntaan kuuluu kuusi suomalaista naista. Naisvoimalla siis mennään! Suunnitelmat ovat jo pitkällä ja helmikuussa lähdemme retkikunnan kanssa harjoitusretkelle johonkin (toivottavasti kylmään) paikkaan Suomeen.

Reitti ja olosuhteet

Lähdemme hiihtämään Grönlannin länsirannikolta Kangerlussuaq-kylän lähettyviltä sijaitsevalta Point 660 -paikasta ja päämäärämme on Isortoq- tai Tasilaaq-kylä itärannikolla. Matkaa kertyy n. 570 km ja siihen kuluu n. 30 päivää. Ensimmäiset 300 kilometrit ovat loivaa nousua ja korkeimman kohdan (2500 mpy) jälkeen edessä on taas loivaa laskua.  Olemme varautuneet 0°C – -35°C lämpötiloihin ja olemme myös ottaneet huomioon myrskyt, railot ja jääkarhuvaaran. Retkikunta on tukematon, joten kaikki tarvittavat tavarat (ruoat, keitinpolttoaineet, vaatteet ja varusteet) vedämme perässämme ahkioissa.

Yhteistyökumppanit

Tärkeät yhteistyökumppanit ovat mahdollistaneet osallistumiseni näin mahtavaan projektiin. Niiden kanssa on hienoa jakaa elämykset! Kiitos Eskimo ja Santa Maria, tästä tulee aivan huikea seikkailu!


Greenland plans

Yippee! This year there is a bigger adventure ahead: I’m going to Greenland in April 2018! The plan is to ski across Greenland from west to east. The trip is organized by the Ankarat Avotunturit organization and our expedition includes six women from Finland. In February we going on a short a training trip to, hopefully, a cold place in Finland. 

Route and conditions

We are going to ski from the west coast of Greenland, Point 660, located near the village of Kangerlussuaq, and our aim is the Isortoq or Tasilaaq village on the east coast. The distance is approximately 570 km and it will take us about 30 days. The first 300 kilometers we are going gentle uphill and after the highest point (2500 mpy) there is again bearly noticable downhill. We have prepared for temperatures from 0°C to -35°C and we have also taken into account risks as storms, crevasses and polar bears. The expedition is unsupported, so all the necessary goods (food, cooking fuel, clothing and equipment) we will pull behind us in pulks.

Partners

Important partners have made it possible for me to participate in this great project. With them, it’s great to share experiences! Thanks to Eskimo and Santa Maria, this will be a great adventure!

Leivonmäki Winter Adventure

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In the early spring we did a short trip to Leivonmäki National Park in Central Finland. It’s known for swamps, shores of two lakes, forests and ridges. I would say that Leivonmäki is a very versatile National Park. Here you can go hiking and kayaking in the summer, and in the winter you also can go cross-country skiing. I you choose to go kayaking or skiing it gives you the opportunity to visit the camp sites on the islands. Here’s a map for the area: Leivonmäki (luontoon.fi).

We arrived in Leivonmäki late in the evening when it was dark. Our base camp was a small hut, at Harjunlahti, without electricity. Our first plan was to just ski away to a camp site, but the hut looked so cozy, that we decided to stay indoors for the night. The problem was that we had planned to eat some sandwiches, grilled over open fire, wrapped in aluminium foil. But now we were inside, with a heating stove, so no open fire. Well, we found out that we had a disposable grill with us, so we just turned it into an oven! We placed the oven on the stove’s top. The oven sandwiches were super! We also made some product development, and for breakfast, when we also ate warm sandwiches, the oven was equipped with an additional bottom, so the sandwiches wouldn’t get burned.

In the morning we skied to the actual National Park, to the lake Rutajärvi, Keskisenvesi. We were really surprised how empty the park was, and we saw only a few others on the ice. We skied eastbound towards the other lake, Kirkkoselkä, but we had to ski through a narrow strait to get to the lake.

As we imagined the strait was an open water channel, so we skied on the shore of the strait. It was a little bit challenging with the pulk, especially in the forest, but we managed to get through to the other side.

We found the camp site and shelter Halttunen on an island, where we prepared some food. We had a really long lunch break. It was still early in the day, so we decided to ski to another camp site to put up tents for the night.

We skied back in our own ski tracks, and when we reached Joutsniemi ridge, we took a short cut over it, so we got to the to camp sites on the west side: Joutsniemi and Lintuniemi camp sites. At Lintuniemi you can also find a shelter.

I the evening we decided for some night skiing, and we had got a little bit lazy. We skied back to our base camp at Harjunlahti for the night. Next morning we had got some new snow! The winter was back!

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Svalbard Training Weekend

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The route: Laivaranta – Kelvenne – Laivaranta

This weekend we had a meeting for our Svalbard expedition. The program included skiing and an overnight stay in tents at Päijänne in Padasjoki. I had an important family event on Saturday, so I took myself to the meeting late in the evening. It was a thoroughly “find the rest of the expedition on the lake of Päijänne” -mission for me. After a two hour drive up to Padasjoki I packed my sled at the Laivaranta harbour. I noticed it already had gone well past eight in the evening, so I had to make my way with the help of my headlamp. I took the course towards the elongated island Kelvenne, which was about 8 km from the harbour.

The weather could have been more Svalbard-like with lots of snow and temperatures well below zero … Instead I skied through slush and water up to my ankles, varying to hard ice surface were you only could go forward with double poling technique (finnish: tasatyöntö). After a two-hour ice skiing I found the camp! They had set up the tents on, what I believe, was the only snow patch of the entire Päijänne. My tent mates had our tent heated, so it was just for me to take off my skis and start to enjoy the evening. The idea of ​​the whole exercise was that we would be able test the equipment we will be using in Svalbard, the most important perhaps the tent, and to meet our tent mates. We’ll stay three persons in a Helsport Svea 4 tent, and it seemed perfectly fine in terms of space. The rest of the expedtion members will share tents in pairs.

During the night, the big snow patch which was the base of our camp, had melted more, and there was now a proper swimming pool in our tent’s vestibule. In the morning it was getting colder, so after we took down our camp we skied off on a hard and icy surface. We tried, where possible, to take us to the shores where there was little snow, but the joy was not as long as we would cross a larger ice area and more slippery and hard ice surfaces. So double poling was the big thing again… We skied a litter longer route back to the harbour, and had a short after ski meeting at the nearby service station. The whole exercise was good training for the Svalbard expedition, and it was great to meet some of the other expedition members, and especially my tent mates! I think we are going to have an awesome expedition in March!