Celebration of Skiing Greenland
The thoughts of another adventure had been running through my head ever since I had met Mikael Strandberg in Qasigiannguit on the west coast of Greenland in 2017.
In 2020 Strandberg said he wanted to ski across the Greenland icecap, and I jumped at the chance to join him. This was going to be a gruelling adventure for which I had no experience. At the age of 65 by the time of the mission I needed to have equipped myself physically, materially, and mentally for a baptism of fire – pulling a 100 kg sled across the ice cap!
The Covid-19 pandemic interrupted our preparations as Strandberg organised a team. Some of us with less experience assembled and tested the right equipment under advice, skilled up with crevasse rescue techniques and pulled tyres all over the place to get fit. Others searched for sponsors, read ‘Endure' by Alex Hutchinson and ‘Polar Exploration’ by Dixie Dansercoer, researched logistics options, insurance requirements, and food strategies.
At one point we were 10 hopefuls but five definite participants made it to the starting line. We organised food, equipment, flights, accommodation, all the necessary SAR procedures and filed all the proper application paperwork with the Greenlandic Authorities.
Mother, mountaineer, author, TV content producer, speaker. Youngest Polish woman to complete 7 Summits.
Adventurer, long-range helicopter pilot, author, and Guinness World Record Holder.
Our expedition was in honour of the first Swedish Expedition to cross the icecap unsupported back in 1988 - that expedition was led by Strandberg’s friend and mentor, Lars Wallgren.
We crossed the icecap successfully in 29 days. We skied 565 km between Point 660 on the west coast near Kangerlussuaq and the Grill Hut on the east coast near Isortoq. This exposed us to the icecap's brutality and stunning beauty in equal measure.
We experienced all conditions from the initial crevasse field, over the top at 2,500 m above sea level and down the other side including blue ice, snow, blizzards, howling 80 kph winds, icy conditions, melting snow, flowing water, and temperatures from 0C to -24 C with wind chill down to -37 C.
We very sadly lost our leader, Strandberg due to a severe concussion and he was evacuated by helicopter on the morning of Day 02.
The Greenland icecap tested our preparation, equipment, and resolve. I have a huge respect for solo, polar explorers now that I understand ‘living in that environment’ better.
I recorded the events as a guest writer on Strandberg’s blog
#1 - I am preparing to cross the Greenland icecap
#2 - I think I am ready to cross the Greenland icecap
#3 - My Greenland adventure - brutal & beautiful
#4 - Did preparations match up to Greenland
James Ketchell recorded a voicemail of our daily progress here.
Our sponsors were vital: Iridium providing satellite communications for our daily updates and for Ketchell’s ‘Exploring the World for Kids’ calls into schools; TotalCool for their solar panels and power banks which worked perfectly to juice the whole team’s requirements; DHL for their international logistics support; and, Oddizzi for whom we collected school geography assets.