Dispatches - Greenland Crossing 2012

May 15, 2012

Follow our Greenland Crossing team as they skied east to west across Greenland in April/May 2012. The team was led by Róbert Þór Haraldsson from Icelandic Mountain Guides, our partners in Iceland.

Greenland Crossing 2012 Dispatches

Screen shot 2012 04 19 at 11.35.02 PM

The team will be led by Róbert Þór Haraldsson from Icelandic Mountain Guides, our partners in Iceland.

We will post occasional progress reports on this page when we hear from the team with news. This won't be every day!

Photos by Róbert Þór Haraldsson, IMG

19 April 2012 - Hahn Glacier, 10.56pm (GMT)
Hugh and Norma Dougall1 Reykjavik Kulusuk TasiilaqRóbert just called in – The team are already up on the glacier. They had the chance to get a ride with the chopper sooner than they expected from Tasilaq. Everything was ready so they jumped on it. They walked about 10km today, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. Good weather and good conditions, Róbert said. So, all is looking good.

21 April 2012 – 10.16pm (GMT)
In the latest call from Róbert and his team, he said that things are going very well. They still have good skiing conditions and sunny but cold weather (-25°C). They skied 15.2km yesterday and 16.1km today.

24 April 2012 – 3.57pm (GMT)
The team is going about 18km each day now, a good pace. It´s been cloudy and a bit windy recently but now it´s better. The sky is clear again and the temperature has risen. The temperature is about -20°C at night and about -10°C when they are getting up in the morning. At noon today the temperature was around 0°C, pretty nice. Yesterday they celebrated Hugh's birthday with balloons and a cake and had bacon with their dinner as a special treat :)

25 April 2012
Due to bad weather conditions, the team will stay put in the camp today.

26 April 2012 – 11.11pm (GMT)
13 Robert Bor Haraldsson3 Greenland ice sheet indoors waiting out the bad weatherYesterday the team got caught in a bad weather (>15m/s) and had to stay put for the day. It was snowing a lot and they had to spend most of the day clearing snow off the tents. The morning after, they had to dig out the skis (that stood upright) since it had snowed more than two meters and everything was covered. After this there are big sastrugis (sharp irregular grooves) all over that will probably slow them down for a while.

After the 0km day they had a good one today and did 15.4km, even though it was hard pulling loads in the demanding conditions after the heavy snowfall. The visibility was very bad until noon and after that they could see the sun every now and then.

By night camp tonight, they had done 109km total and the altitude is 1,890m.

28 April 2012 – 11.32pm (GMT)
10 Robert Bor HaraldssonThe last two days have been slow. There are lots of sastrugis around that make it hard to drag the heavy pulkas (sleds) forward. The weather has been sub-optimal to say the least; windy and snowing with poor visibility. Because of the wind they've been using the tarpauline when taking breaks. The temperature was high yesterday, up to 1°C when it was snowing, colder today and down to -16°C this evening.

It looks like the weather might be a challenge for a bit longer. The winds are predicted to be high tomorrow with some snowfall. Less wind on Monday but it might be snowing even more. Let´s see how that goes.

The team did 14.3km yesterday and 14.2km today. The elevation now is 2,068m and they have done 139km in total so about 400 km left to go.

They are obviously not alone up there. Róbert said they saw footprints of a fox in the snow today.

30 April 2012 – 10.52pm (GMT)
No wind yesterday but it was snowing a bit. So today it was hard to drag the pulkas. At noon today, the wind got a lot stronger. Tonight when Róbert called there was no wind and good visibility.

4 Greenland ice sheet SunsetThey did 16.5km yesterday and 14km today. The elevation is 2,213m so they only have about 250 vertical meters left to the highest point. After they reach the highest point, the fall-wind should stop teasing them. They also start to go downwards instead of upwards so the speed will go up. They have now done 170km total.

In the evenings they have been enjoying beautiful sunsets despite the wind. Today they were briefly visited by a small bird. It obviously didn´t like them very much since it flew off right away.

2 May 2012 – 10.10pm (GMT)
The team has had two pretty good days in a row with decent sunny weather. Still, it was quite cold today, -15°C at noon (last night it was -26°C, brrrr). The wind was only around 5m/s but that means face masks in this cold.

The skiing conditions are better now, the snow is becoming more even. They did 18km yesterday and 16.3km today. Now they have done 202km total and have about 340 km left. The elevation now is 2,370m.

4 May 2012 – 11.50pm (GMT) - The skins are coming off!
5 Greenland ice sheet SkiingYesterday the weather was good; sunny and bright skies. Camp at 2,454m, -26°C during the night. The sastrugis are getting very small and the snow is more even. The group walked 20km and today was a great day. They reached the top of the glacier and for the first time they felt like they were going downhill a little bit. They took their skins off and advanced 23.5km in 6.5 active hours.

An amazing thing happened today when over 50 geese sat down on the glacier close to the group, a fantastic moment! They have now 98km left to DYE 2 station and spirits are high. Count on being there in 4 to 5 days. 246km are now behind them and less than 300km to go. Tomorrow they will be halfway in distance with around 9 to 10 days left in total. We have also learned that one of the group, Hugh, is actually a descendant of Nansen himself, so no wonder their spirits are strong :)

6 May 2012 – 11.40pm (GMT)
6 Greenland ice sheet Traffic on the ice sheetFlock of geese? Nope, it´s the Norwegians crossing the glacier west to east. Róbert's team met a group (of nine) from Hvitserk today. It was nice for them to finally meet other people. One other team passed them few days ago but too far away for them to see each other. The Hvitserk team was on their 13th day. They said there is another Hvitserk team on the way, with 11 people. They also said that there are three Australians one day ahead of our team. Then another Icelandic team of two has just started from the Hahn glacier, so there is quite a lot of traffic these days.

10 Robert Bor HaraldssonYesterday was warm; sleet all day and whiteout. They did 21km. Today they did 25.8km, the furthest distance covered in a day so far. It´s still warm, -2°C at noon and -4°C tonight. It was foggy today with some hail and little visibility but good skiing conditions. The elevation is 2,384m.

8 May 2012 – 10.38pm (GMT)
7 DYE 2 Station in sightYeah… the DYE 2 station is in sight. Tonight's camp is only 10km away from it. They will reach the station tomorrow at noon probably. Must be interesting and even a bit eerie to see DYE 2 out there in the middle of the glacier. Getting there is a certain milestone and good for the team spirit. Congratulations :)

They met two Norwegians today. But they have not seen the two Australians that should, according to the latest news, be one day ahead of our team.

The weather has been good lately and for the first time they have had some wind blowing from behind. That´s helpful and probably had something to do with their new record days. They did 28km yesterday and 29km today. Now they have done 350km and have about 190km left. The elevation is 2,180m.

10 May 2012 – 10.37pm (GMT)
8 At DYE Station 2Around noon yesterday, Róbert and the team reached the DYE 2 station and spent some two hours having a good look around. They met a man called Drew and his wife, who live next to the station for five months each year. Drew takes care of the airstrip there. Huge Hercules planes come from NY to practise landing every week. Drew told them that last season, 84 people came across the glacier. That´s quite some traffic.

The team skis in 1.5 hour stretches. In the beginning, when they were still going up towards the highest point, they did this 4 times each day. Some days they did an extra 30 minutes. After they started going down again, they changed the routine to 5 lots of 1.5 hours of skiing. They always stick to the 1.5 hours before taking a break, that's holy.

Yesterday they did 23.5 km ( long brake at DYE 2) in a whiteout during the first half of the day but after that it got brighter. Today they did 33.4 km. First it was bright and then it started to snow. Skiing conditions are good, almost no wind and not so cold. The elevation now is 1,850m.

Today they saw footsteps of a big fox heading north. That one is obviously on a long journey.

12 May 2012 – 11.30pm (GMT) - Closing in on Hill 660!
This morning fresh snow was covering everything and it was snowing the whole day, making it hard to drag the pulkas. Still they did 31km today and 32.4km yesterday. It´s around 77km to Hill 660 and they will head straight in that direction tomorrow.

Today they started out in -19°C but it gradually became warmer and in the evening the temperature was up to -2°C. They descended about 200m and the elevation now is 1,450m. So far there have been around 10 days with almost no visibility and Róbert is hoping that there are bright days ahead.

Róbert has mentioned how grateful he is for the good group he has with him. Good helpful travel companions and conversations are fun and lively. That's priceless on a journey like this.

13 May 2012 – 11.34pm (GMT) - Mountains on the Horizon!
9 Robert Bor HaraldssonFinally seeing mountains in the distance, what a great feeling that must be. This is an obvious sign that they are getting really close to finishing the Greenland glacier crossing. They did 38km today and have only 40km left to Point 660.

It was a good day today and they even had a tail wind. They are on hard ice but luckily there is are some centimetres of snow on top so they are still able to ski. Most likely they have to, at some point, take their skis off and put on the crampons. That will slow them down so let´s hope they can ski for some time yet.

It was -17°C last night and it´s also cold tonight with clear skies. If it´s cold it´s less likely they will have problems with water on the way down. It is possible that they will get off the glacier tomorrow if everything goes super well, but it’s probably more realistic to assume they will finish around noon on Thursday.

Róbert has been calling in every other day but now he will call more frequently. He called last night and tonight and will call again tomorrow. Now things are happening fast and we are excited to know how things are going. So stay tuned :)

15 May 2012 – 10.05pm (GMT) - Point 660 Here We Come!
Yes, they are off the glacier. Tonight around 6pm their time (8pm GMT) they made it off the glacier. Congratulations guys :)

11 Robert Bor HaraldssonToday was "hardcore", as Róbert put it. The last camp on the glacier was 7.6 km away from Point 660, so a rather short way to go but it was not easy. At first they managed to ski over demanding terrain but at one point they just could not go further, facing a 50m high steep hillside, almost a wall. There was no way they could have dragged the heavy pulkas up there. At this point they decided to take off their skis and use the crampons for the rest of the way, some two kilometres.

They filled their backpacks and managed to take half of their gear with them off the glacier. Then they went in again to get the rest. This wasn´t easy at all. The terrain on the edge of the glacier was very demanding and took time. We had originally arranged for a pick up that we then had to delay a bit.

When Róbert called tonight they were expecting the pick up shortly. Everyone is of course very happy to be off the glacier now, having achieved the amazing goal of crossing the huge Greenland ice cap from east to west. It´s easy to imagine that now they are very eager to get to a warm shower after all this time :)

For the next two nights they will stay at Old Camp in Kangerlussuaq. On Thursday morning they will fly over to Nuuk and stay there one night. On Friday evening they have a flight back to Iceland.

It´s going to be great to hear some interesting stories straight from them when we meet them after they're back home. Right now we know that they are all very happy and everyone is feeling good and healthy. Again… congratulations guys!

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