Across Greenland 2018 – Video

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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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Winter Gear That Matter

The summer is around the corner,  but it’s time to look back at the Svalbard winter expedition for one final time. The focus is now on the gear I used during the trip.

On my final equipment list for the Svalbard expedition, I had 126 items. Some of the list’s items, which belonged to the category unnecessary, I removed during the planning phase. The removed items were most spare clothes and spare equipment. The rest of the equipment on the list was more or less important or necessary. Some equipment belonged to the category comfort, but those equipment contributes greatly to how you enjoy the journey.

You can download my equipment list for the Svalbard 2016 expedition:
Svalbard2016 GEAR (PDF)

Below I have listed the top 5 equipment that I experienced that contributed to how comfortable and successful the journey was. I would absolutely take with me these equipment again on a similar winter expedition.

Top 5 Winter Expedition Equipment:

1. Inflatable Mattress – Thermarest NeoAir All Season

A month before the Svalbard expedition, I did a short winter tour in Koli National Park. It was the first real winter test for my Thermarest NeoAir All Season mattress. I had used it several times in the summer, autumn and spring, but never in the winter. It was under that trip I concluded that it’s a thousand times more comfortable than a foam mattress and I was really rested in the morning. On Vatnajökull, for example, I slept directly on my Thermarest Ridgerest Solar foam mattress, and I remember that my arm got numb every night and my back hurt in the morning. It was easy to take the decision to bring the mattress to Svalbard. I like the mattress because it’s light, warm, comfortable and when deflated it doesn’t take much space. In the winter it is not good to inflate the mattress by blowing, because the moisture is collected inside the mattress and then freezes. Therefore I have a small battery powered electrical pump to the mattress, but to Svalbard I borrowed a pump sack from a friend, because the electrical pump is not so efficient. The pump sack worked great after you got used to it after couple of days. Under the NeoAir I had the Ridgerest foam mattress, just for safety’s sake, if the NeoAir would have gone flat.

2. Vapour Barrier Socks – Rab VB Socks

First some information about VB socks. The idea is to dress a pair of liners on your feet as base layer, on top of those these waterproof VB socks, and outside of those a pair of thick and warm ski socks, and of course the ski boots on top of that. In this way the moisture will not get through from the feet to the warm socks and boots, and that prevents freezing condensation and they hold heat better. These Rab VB Socks was the equipment that I was most skeptical about, but because the socks weighed almost nothing, I decided to take them with me. I had heard very good reviews about them, but I hadn’t had time to test them properly before departure. Once we set of skiing on Svalbard I decided to give them a try, and I was really, really surprised how well they worked. I was worried that the socks would cause chafing or blisters, but in the end I think they prevented that. Under the whole trip I got only a few small blisters under my big toes and a small blister on one of my heel. With some sports tape I easily fixed those problems. The ski boots and the thick ski socks were dry throughout the whole expedition.

3. Ski boots – Crispi Stetind GTX

Last year, during the expedition on Vatnajökull, I had a pair of ski boots (Alpina BC 1550) that weren’t so good. Actually they were horrible. I got some nasty blisters on my feet, which affected negatively my skiing. They weren’t waterproof at all, so I had soaking wet boots throughout the whole trip, except for couple of days I dried them directly over the cooking stove. In the early winter I bought a new pair of ski boots, Crispi Stetind GTX. I was first worried that I wouldn’t have time to break them in, but I had time to make a few ski trips with the boots before the expedition. In most of my shoes and boots I use custom made insoles, because it’s really difficult for me to find shoes that fits my feet. For some reason the insoles in the Stetind boots fit perfectly my feet, and they were really comfort. The boots are very steady and sturdy, but enough soft for skiing. The thing I like most is that they are waterproof! If you like to go uphill with crampons, the Black Diamond Contact Strap fits perfectly on these boots.

4. Devold Merino

Under a winter expedition you don’t change your clothes so often. Therefore you have to wear really comfortable clothes, especially for the base layer. I haven’t tried many brands of merino wool garments, but I have been really satisfied with the Devold Expedition brand. On Svalbard we changed our base layers once, except for our underwear that we changed more often.

5. Durable spoon – Sea To Summit Alpha Long Spoon

The Sea To Summit Alpha Long Spoon is the best spoon when you are eating directly from freeze dried food bags. Because of the length of the spoon, it is easy to get all the way to the bottom of the bag. One more thing is that it’s really durable. I hadn’t thought much about this feature, but in harsh expedition conditions it’s proved to be an important feature. To Svalbard I had with me one Alpha Long Spoon and two Light My Fire Sporks. I use Sporks when eating in the tent. Both of my Sporks broke into two pieces. The total amount of broken Sporks in our three person tent, during our expedition, was four! Well, the cold temperature and the frozen food may have had something to do with the breakage of the Sporks, but now I understand why some spoons are made from strong aircraft aluminum alloy. Maybe I will til the next expedition get a Spork Titanium? The cons of the aluminum or titanium spoon is that it’s not Teflon friendly.

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The Alpha Long Spoon compared to the two broken Sporks.

 

If you are interested in the winter clothing, I have written a separate blog post about Layers For the Cold.

Expedition Food for 3 Weeks

When I’m planning the food for longer trips, I try to make the food as easy and lightweight as possible. It can be fun to sometimes luxury something up, but I like simple meals that are easy and quick to cook. I’m not really choosy when it comes to food, but some may think that my menus looks a bit too monotonous. The most important thing is that you really like what you eat, so that you easily  can take in energy.

Winter expedition food are little easier to plan, and here’s the reasons:

  1. Weight: You’re pulling your stuff in a sled, which is for volume much larger than a backpack and you can pull a lot more weight than you can carry, so you can take some weighty gourmet food with you.
  1. Durability: You can take fresh food with you without fear of rancidity, eg cheese, ham and butter, as the temperature remains low.
  1. Water Sources: You get water anywhere, just as you can melt the snow. So the only water you need to pull in the sled is what you need during the day for drinking and lunch.

Menu for the Svalbard expedition (19 days):

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Food for 3 weeks: potato mash, porridge, blueberry soup, chocolate drinks, sports drinks, minced meat of moose (dried), freeze dried lunches (add water), coffee and coffee creamer, beef jerky, multivitamins, cookies and chocolate with nuts. Still missing from the picture: Bread, butter, cheese, ham, 10 x freeze dried lunches and some more chocolate and nuts.

BREAKFAST

  • Porridge (Elovena Plus Whole Grain Oat & Wildberry Milk, portion instant porridge)
  • Bread (with butter, ham and cheese)
  • Coffee (Moccona and creamer)
  • Multivitamins (effervescent tablet)

SNACKS AND DRINKS

  • Sports Drink (HartSport and Fast, powder)
  • Chocolate with nuts (200 g per day)
  • Beef Jerky

LUNCH

  • Freeze Dried Meal (LYO foods or REAL Turmat)
  • Coffee (3in1) or Chocolate Drink (Oboy)

DINNER

  • Mashed potatoes (Rainbow and various tastes of Mummon Muusi)
  • Minced meat of moose (fried and dried)
  • Chocolate Drink (Van Houten)

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Blueberry soup (Ekströms, powder)
  • Cookies (Ballerina milk chocolate)
  • Potato chips (Pringles)

Winter Adventure in Koli

For the winter holiday we planned a few days adventure in Koli National Park. We had enough of the little snow here in Southern Finland, so we thought Koli would be a good choice for a little winter adventure. We drove off to Koli from Helsinki in the afternoon and arrived at midnight. We planned to put up our camp at Rykiniemi camp site, because the site was just a few hundred meters from the nearest parking lot. That way we would not have to walk long distances arriving to camp late at night.

Arriving at the campsite in Rykiniemi

What surprised us was that no one had visited the camp site for several days or maybe weeks. The official parking lot was completely unplowed. We plopped into the untouched snow in 0°C temperature to the camp with our stuff. After a quick reconnaissance of the camp site we pitched our tents and prepared ourselves for the night.

In the early morning we woke to some loud thumps and the whole tent shaking! We already believed in our tent that the neighbor tent had awakened to challenge us with a snow war, as that would have been totally expected… But after a moment we figured out that the noise was caused by heavy snow falling down from the trees above us.

Ski touring on Lake Pielinen

The next day we skied out on the lake Pielinen for a day trip. We took the direction north toward the elongated island Laitosaari. There were a lot snow on the ice, so we skied / plopped in the heavy snow that stuck to the bottom of our skis… After 5 km skiing we reached the fireplace at the lagoon of Laitosaari. There, we held a lunch break in the heat of the fire.

When we started to ski back the weather changed, so we felt like polar skiers in the strong head wind and snow. It was difficult to follow our old ski tracks because they begun to disappear. It was already dark when we arrived back to the campsite in Rykiniemi. The temperature started to drop. We enjoyed the evening in the heat of the fire, but in the end we decided to organize a Yatzy evening in one of the tents.

Snowshoeing the Summit Trail

The following morning we packed the camp and drove towards Koli Centre Ukko. The weather had turned into a brilliant – 8°C winter weather. We put the snowshoes on our feet and wandered off along the Summit Trail or the Koli Peaks Snowshoeing Trail, which is a 1.6 km circular trail that takes you round Koli’s best-known scenic points. It starts from the Visitor Centre Ukko from where the journey goes on to Paha-Koli, Akka-Koli and Ukko-Koli.

Koli is worth visiting, especially when the snow situation is much better there than in Southern Finland. I will certainly be visiting Koli again and maybe next time it will be a summer or autumn adventure. After the trip I also updated the review of the Bergans Trollhetta 3 tent.