Arrival at Point 660

Yesterday was a tough day for the team but they succeeded in reaching their goal for the day the fabled Point 660, which they have been aiming for all along, thereby completing the traverse of the Greenland Ice Cap from east to west. Congratulations!

Maxime the EL, called us last night and confirmed that they would continue into the early hours of today in order to reach Point 660, estimating arrival there around 1.00 am. He said that the ice fall was proving to be really tricky with crevasses and cauldrons to navigate through and the slushy and wet conditions had not been favorable. The team was not skiing at all yesterday but dragging the, by now lightweight pulkas along, wearing their boots and crampons. Needless to say they must all have been very tired, yet elated on reaching Point 660.  Let´s hope they all enjoyed a good night´s sleep off the ice.

Happy crossing to all the team members!

Going through the Ice fall

Maxime just called and reported that the team was on the edge of the ice fall and would spend the day getting tackling its obstacles. Last night they camped at the edge of the ice fall and spent, hopefully their last night on the ice. If they complete the navigation through the ice fall they will set up camp on Point 660, a small and barren hill at the edge of the ice. Weather is not bothering them too much today, even though they would appreciate slightly lower temperatures.

Navigating through the ice fall can be a tough feat since you constantly need to change course in order to find the best way out of this labirynth that the cracks and ridges of the ice have formed. Temperature has been high the last few days so there might be some water to tackle with as well. We wish the team all the luck with getting through the ice fall and look forward to hear how they dealt with this last obstacle of the expedition. We will of course report as soon as the team has come off the ice.

Getting closer to Point 660

This morning the team is 89 km from Point 660 and if all goes according to plan they will stand on Terra firma on Saturday evening. They have been doing great in the last 2 days, covering 30 km despite difficult conditions, wind and wet snow. There has also been some rain making their lives even more difficult and views have been limited due to fog.

Their prayers, and ours as well, for a drop in temperatures have gone unnoticed up until now but their spirits are still high and they are far from moaning at all. Yesterday they met 2 groups coming up from Point 660 so they have recent news of the conditions of the ice fall. A minor cold has been bothering Gareth but he is getting better. They will continue today in less wind and if the forecast is correct they will have no rain either and hopefully some views since the peaks leading up to the ice cap should be within view those last few days.

We send our good thoughts to Maxime and his team hoping for some great last days on the ice and can not wait to hear how they tackle the ice fall.

The team reaches the radar station DYE 2

Yesterday morning we got a message from Maxime and were relieved to hear that all had gone according to plan despite the storm on Sunday. True, this was a long day and conditions difficult but skiing from 08.30 in the morning to 7 o´clock in the evening did the trick and they reached DYE 2, the bizarre remnants of a cold war radar station out there on the ice cap.

There were 4 cold war radar Stations across Greenland, two of them on the ice cap DYE 2 and DYE 3. Those were abandoned in 1988 in 72 hours and almost everything left behind. Inside the strange dome you will find a fully equipped kitchen and other remnants of the necessities for daily life. Time will erase all of this and one day ski explorers will simply ski past without even noticing, since the structures are slowly sinking into the ice.

Luckily the wind is slowing down and Maxime and his group continue today heading for the Point 660 enjoying the stable conditions of the ice cap before the real ordeal starts, finding a way through the labyrinth of the ice fall

Yesterday the team covered 35 kilometers despite strong winds from the south. After yet another windy night, this morning it is still quite windy but they are intent on continuing. Weather forecasts show that the wind will lessen somewhat today so hopefully the team can enjoy the last days on this immense ice cap in relative calm.

30km away from DYE II radar station

We received a phone call from Maxime tonight (Saturday, 7th of May) at camp 17, now only 30km away from DYE II radar station. The last three days have been going really well, they´ve been covering over 30km each day. So they will hopefully reach the station tomorrow.

Maxime aims at reaching Point 660 in 7 days. But let´s see about that. The fact is that the last part on the western side is extremely wet according to people in Kangerlussuaq and the water might slow them down. They have also had this confirmed by two Norwegian teams they recently met that started their crossings on the west side. They also saw a flock of geese flying over yesterday but did´t manage to get any useful information out of them 🙂

If they reach Point 660 in 7 days, they will be there on the 14th of May. If this goes as planned, they would like to do the awesome two day hike from Point 660 (the western edge of the glacier) and down to Kangerlussuaq village.

So far the weather has not been too problematic. But now this coming Sunday and Monday the wind is picking up quite a lot, blowing from the south, not really calming down until late Monday or Tuesday. It´s also getting warmer and it continues to be warm, not exactly what we hoped for since there is already a lot of melting happening on the western side.

So there might be challenging times ahead and challenges is something that is to be expected on an expedition like this one. The good thing is that the team is strong, everyone feeling good and healthy and spirits are high.

Highest point of the route

Maxime brought us good news yesterday, they have reached the highest point of the route.

“We slept at the top of the ridge 2480m.  On the way to dye2. should take us 4 days.” So from now on they will be going a bit downwards.

We will try to get more info from them on conditions in the area. The weather has been stable lately and we hope it will stay like that.


Much colder than before and a bit windy today

We got a message from Maxime and the team this morning, now just about to leave camp 12 (at 2345m altitude). After the first warm days, it´s getting way colder. Maxime tells us that it is now “-28°C at 7 am. -35°C yesterday night. A bit windy 12m/s. it s going to be pretty cold today.” But all is OK and pretty extreme weather something to be expected. Now it´s cold but in general the weather is stable.

The condition of the team is overall good even though some have blisters, “but nothing bad” Maxime assures us.

We will  stay in touch with the team and report about how they are doing but because of how cold it is at the moment, they can’t stop for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time during the day. So we can´t expect them to be texting that much, mainly in the night after they have set up the camp.

Here is a short description of how their daily life goes: “We start every day at 8h30 AM and stop at around 17h30/18h. take 40 min. to build the wall and then we pitch our tents. At ten o’clock everybody is asleep. Max”

More later…

At camp 9 and conditions improving

Maxime sent us a message last night. They are at camp 9 and did 25km yesterday and 20km the day before that. So they are picking up speed and overall doing pretty well. Its been very warm lately but now it looks like it’s getting colder and the conditions for skiing and dragging the supplies should get better.

It was a bit windy yesterday 12m/s) and it was snowing. The forecast for the next few days looks good. It’s still going to be colder than the last few days, some precipitation but only light winds from the North. Let’s hope that will be the case.

“I think we will reach the highest point in 3 days” Maxime said. Now at camp 9 they are at 1977m.

More news from the team coming up very soon.

Camp 5 – The story so far

Maxime, the expedition leader, and his group started their journey last Thursday. The progress on Friday, their first full day of the tour, was rather slow with the group only doing 6 km (3.7 miles). The conditions were not optimal with heavy wet snow on a warm day (+4°C at 20:00) . They did 15 km (9.3 miles) on Saturday, 16.8 km (10.4 miles) on Sunday and again 15 km (9.3 miles) on Monday. Maxime told us yesterday that “it is still very warm (+7°C) and snow is melting at 1348 meters above sea level”. He also told us that everyone was okay and the group had good spirit.

From everyone here at the Icelandic Mountain Guides office: Godspeed and good luck with the remaining 500 km!

Preparing for the long journey

Preparing for a long expedition is a lot of work. Whole lot of gear was sent over to Greenland from Iceland some days before the team arrived. They then of course brought even more with them. Then when it all had come together, plus even more that was picked up in Tasiilaq, it was all organized and weighed.

Here are few photos of the team preparing just before leaving for Hahn glacier where the actual crossing starts on skis. They are organizing, packing, weighing and loading the helicopter.