Expedition

4300 km unsupported circumnavigation of the Greenland icecap by means of a Windsledge. An expedition within the 'Windsledge project' - An innovative, sustainable, low operating cost and global impact project.

22.6.17

Expedition IceRiver 2017

Another Windsled Expedition completed
Read all about the Windsled and the 9th Windsled Expedition IceRiver 2017 here and also the 8 previous Expeditions in Greenland and Antarctica.
Amazing Photos by Nacho Garcia That Beagle Production

The Windsled even finally made it to the Danish News









6.7.16

2016 Ice Cap Summit Expedition completed


The 8th Windsled expedition completed. In total 1870km from Kangerlusuaq over the Icecap summit at altitude 3240m to the east coast near Tasiilaq and back to Kangerlusuaq.




Actual route 1870km
Plenty of challenges mostly caused by very difficult wind conditions.  However the objective of the expedition testing the newest prototype of the Windsled and its ability to navigate on the icecap carrying 2T and a crew of 6 was a success, along with completing various scientific test.



Link to Official Expedition site for the Windsled including expedition diary.

Nice piece on the expedition in Explorers web



12.5.16

Greenland Ice Summit Expedition 2016

We are off for a new Expedition with The Windsled Project 15 May 2016.

This will be the 8th expedition testing the lastest proto type of the Windsled for Antarctica Circumnavigation 2017-18

2000km/40days from Kangerlussuaq over the Icecap summit  3205m (Summit science camp) to Isortoq and back to Kangerlussuaq.



Read more about the Expedition and project

11.6.15

National Geographic

The Windsledge Project got a 22 page article in National Geographic Adventura (Spanish edition).


19.11.14

News in Explorersweb

A nice description of the three expeditions circumnavigating Greenland in 2014, written by 'Wings over Greenland'

24.9.14

Windsledge tracks crossed on skis

Ski crossing Isortorq to Kangerlussuaq, 27 days

In the biggest white room 6 little dots snakes their way through a thick white carpet. Once in a while the head of the snake drops off and slides down attaching itself to the tail, as a new head pushes forward head down finding extra strength and the snake continues eating meter after meter. White cords are sticking out of the dots heads, when needed delivering dreams, flow, distraction and power.
This is where nothing exist but the grandness of the white space and the sliding of one foot after the other in a lulling rhythm, until the sun starts its performance on the horizon and they can finally rest.
This is where a cup of hot water during a break and eating crushed potato chips with a spoon gives you the biggest pleasure and laughs are frequent and easy.
This is where no one needs to explain, everyone is longing for the finish and everyone is dreading the finish, as they know they will long back as soon as it is reached.
This is the ' Kamelose' Greenland Crossing deep into their adventure.


Karin, Josh, Bengt, Frode, Zac, Frederik
A successful crossing in every sense, thanks to a great team with lots of humour. After being dropped off by boat near Isortorq 65km south of Tasiilaq, we jumped, sprinted, skipping the pulks across the melting streams and zigzagged our way past the crevasses up the icefall reaching the plateau. Here we met unusually warm temperatures for the year, heavy snowfall, deep and wet snow clotting to our skis making the pulks very heavy to pull. This made the progress in the beginning very slow delaying us quite a bit. But the team was strong and ones the condition got better we made a big effort to catch up with lost time, with days of effective skiing from 9 up to 11 hours and 34km a day. The weather threw everything it had on us, from sneaky freezing wind getting in where it shouldn’t, coming from all directions to storms having us stay in the tents, but also kindly gave us stunning sunny days with powder condition making the pulks fly. Going down the icefall to Kangerlussuaq was epic and even trying to read how Bengt navigated through the never ending icy maze, that didn't seem to want to let us through, I never figured out how he managed this. This really requires skills.
I had to pinch myself twice when the GPS showed we were crossing the invisible tracks set by the Windsledge Expedition less than two months ago…very surreal and feeling very lucky getting to experience both.

Why we ended calling the crossing 'Kamelose' a word shouted out very often during the trip… well a Norwegian joke on the Danish language on Youtube  that some may get (in a kind of English) Kamelose.



Daily updates and more pictures from the crossing Ousland.no
Also check out Zac & Josh's cool project 4Caps.


17.8.14

Crossing tracks

Heading back to Greenland to cross our Windsledge tracks on a East-West Ski crossing starting 21 august from Isortoq to Kangerlussuaq. Our daily progress can be followed here EW Ski-crossing.
During the trip the wind pattern and surface condition will be checked for a possible  more commercial route for the Windsledge.

22.7.14

Actual Route

Actual route (as the crow flies) circumnavigating the Greenland Ice cap 
49 days and 4300 km, max altitude 3200m. 
37 days of sailing, 12 days not moving do to weather or technical issues.

2.7.14

Full Expedition posts

Unfortunately I was not able to post the daily updates I wrote during the expedition and was instead limited to a scribble of 160 characters pr. message, most written with cold hands in a very lively " bumpy" tent, on a tracking device were you have to play the Tetris game to spell your way through a message. Hence the somewhat strange text and abbreviations. The blog also got spammed, so apology for some odd messages.

Following are the full post with a few pictures and videos. They are as I wrote them on the ice, so those of you I know who usually can’t help them self with the red pencil, please bear with my grammar and spelling.
A few more pictures has also been added to this blog (press the slideshow on the right to go to the selection).

Day 51, 24 June Kangerlussuaq
As sailing is over it was everyone to sleep in the tent last night. A bit too cramped for me, so I bivied out leaving the tent to the guys and also to enjoy one last sunset and sunrise. The night turned out to be very windy and I had to retreat to the pilot tent sleeping on top of the kites. As we woke up, it was a strange feeling not having to check the wind direction and speed to decide which kite to use. We woke early as the helicopter was to pick us up at 10. A quick breakfast and then we started to disassemble the tents and sledges. It took us around 3 hours, meanwhile the snow just got softer and softer having us step into the under layering water. The Sikorsky came as the weather started to deteriorate, so we hurried to load all equipment and the sledges into the helicopter and off we went. The very kind pilots had been so farsighted to our needs and supplied us with Coca Cola, Pringles and Kit Kat…. they know what you crave for after almost two months on the ice.
The flight back to Kangerlussuaq was spectacular and we quickly discovered we had stopped just in time as the ice down to Kangerlussuaq was scattered with melting streams, lakes and big big crevasses. Very surreal to think that in about 10 weeks this is the area I will have to go through again coming down the ice after a crossing on skis. Hopefully the water is gone by then.
How cool  is this ? being picked up by a big Sikorsky

Flying over the rolling hills around Kangerlussuaq was surprisingly pleasant for the eyes. To see something green and stepping out of the helicopter suddenly having smells again, was a bit as a slap in the face of nice stuff. Funny how you don't know you've missed something before you have it again.
We located ourselves at Old Camp again, had a shower which was a big disappointment. After 8 weeks of no washing wearing the same clothes there was no hot water!!!
Then we headed for an exceptional meal of reindeer and mosk ox steak at the Rowing club restaurant, flushed down with exceptional good locally brewed black berry beer. We were then all toast, but Hugo and Ramon manned up and continued a bit at the airport hotel bar while the rest of us hit the sack.


At least one didn't grow a beard
Manolo, Ramon, Karin, Eusebio, Hugo


Day 50, 23 June N67"01' W48"06', 1528m, 412km  (427)
As forecasted the wind came and what a wind!!. It starting out slow ( 80m2 kite) having M+E do 100km in 6 hours (...my 6 hours of tricky sewing of the kite held :) ). Then Hugo and I took over and starting with the 60m2, with the wind increasing slowly for some very smooth and fast sailing. Had a minor 2h downtime changing kites, but then we did 15h of nonstop sailing with the little handkerchief 20m2. We were easy doing 35-40kmh in average which we allowed ourselves as the surface was so soft and without sastrugi. Had some really fast sessions doing up to 54kmh which is of course way too fast as we are just sitting on top of a cooler box steering. We had 3h going more or less blind in whiteout doing 35-45, again a tiny bit hazardous thinking about it. The only thing making us realize how fast we were actual going was the gps as it felt so very smooth. Last bit before stopping had us going really fast over a very flat stretch passing DYE2 with a distance of 19 km. As we wanted to make use of the wind, we did not stop by for a visit, even knowing there would be people from the summer science team there. Before we knew it, we had suddenly done the last 412km and was close to our starting point almost 2 months ago. Manolo and Eusebious was waken up and we did the last stretch all together from the pilot sledge.
 
Greenland windsledge Circumnavigation done in 49 day approx.~4300 km in total !!!
 
 

Video showing some really fast sailing the last 15 hours
 
 As we are to be picked up by helicopter, we then tried to sail our way as close to Kangerlussuaq as possible until we hit ice or melting water. The sailing became very heavy as the snow got soggier and ended having the quick release go off by itself. Stepping of the sledge we sank half a meter into very wet snow. As this will just become worse this is then our final point. We are now resting and celebrating and will tomorrow morning arrange for pickup by a Sikorsky .....very odd that suddenly we are done and no more sailing.


Day 49 22 June , -16C night
Third night with wrong direction wind, So skis and goggles on, iPod charged and pocket full of jelly babies and another night out on the icecap, this time heavy snow soon came down only with a pause showing another spectacular sunrise. As much as I love these escapes, it's getting frustrating not moving. And it’s defiantly not easier that we are so close to our goal. However weather forecast looks promising now, with south-east wind tomorrow at noon. Crossing all fingers and toes.

A final night out on skis


Day 48 21 June , -13C night
The wind just don't want to come and follow us the last 400km. So clicked in to the skis again and took off into a pale blue/pink night with entertainment of yet another stunning sunset and sunrise. Morale in the team a bit low as we are now so close to finishing but haven't moved in three days. We only need to go to the other side of this Dome that is our southern point, about 50 km straight west, and then there should be wind to carry us the last bit up north. But forecast doesn't look too good. Maybe 50km of man hauling should be a choice now? It's only about 120kg pr person so it's actual doable, but I think I'm the only one on this one.



Off for another ski tour
Day 47 20 June, -15C night
No progress this night Temp has dropped again to -15 so am not exactly exited now having just spend 6 hours sewing a 1m tear in our most used kite. But jobs done and  we are now just waiting for another direction of wind so we can make a u-turn and then go north back to our starting point.
Sunset and sunrise with a half-moon just beautiful, all pink and soft blue with a bit of snow blowing of the surface.




Day 46, 19 June, N63"55' W43"15', 2587m, 145km, total 3476km
Bored waiting for wind Hugo and I paid DYE3 another visit. Found the Rec room, played a round of table football and billiard, tested some 25yrs. old Pepsi and Pringles (this Expedition did not bring any pringles! Big mistake as this in my book is mandatory). Then we put a coin in the wind machine and went out started up the sledge and did 145km in 9 hours with perfect terrain, soft snow, small sastrugis and a strong N wind. Unfortunately we had to stop at N63"55’ as we now have to go more west. So now waiting for different wind direction to carry us west. Manolo discovered a 1 m long tear in our most used kite the 80m2 when taking it down. A bit of a disaster as it is in principle beyond repair. Still we have to try fix it as we will probably need it for the last bit.

 

Entrance into DYE3covered with very soft snowy icicles
 
Day 45, 18 June, N65"10' W43"49’, 2475m, 80km, total 3331km
Some nice sailing in the beginning through some amazing light ending with a whiteout. Spooky having DYE3 appear in the mist. We almost misted it as we were given wrong coordinates and had a whiteout. We managed to find an entrance through the dome climbing a few snowy hills. We explored the station that was abandoned in 89, for some hours with all its remains of personal effects and food left in the fridge. The table was set for Christmas and lots of food that had been prepared as if just to be served was left in the kitchen. DYE3 is one of 52 closed down ‘early defence warning system ' stations left by US. Most go via DYE1 when doing a w-e crossing, but this one is rarely visited.
Wind has increased but turned east so we may be stuck here for a while.


DYE3 appearing in the mist

Day 44, 17 June
Absolute vacuum this night so no progress. The good thing is, I got to go out on another ski tour all night.  Just amazing when the tent has disappeared having 360dgr of icecap to myself, feeling really lucky to be able to do this.

360dgr of pretteness


Day 43, 16 June, N65"47' W42"56', 2288m, 28km, total 3251m
Had hoped to make it to DYE3 tonight for a bit of sightseeing, but we struggled with the few puffs of wind and only did 28km in a snowy whiteout. Forecast not too good either the next few days. Really warm to, +3C this morning.

Day 42, 15 June, N65"57 W42"29', 2191m, 132km, total, 3223km
A bit of good wind came and so did 135 extreme bumpy km. Big magic moment right on the latitude of the Arctic Circle when changing kite size at 2am. A full bluish moon and the sun just trying to set again, bouncing on the horizon showing off all its red colours….got totally paralyzed looking at it and almost wished we couldn’t get the kite up.
We came across two old camps from previous groups crossing the icecap,  spotting the snow walls from a long distance,. Actual one camp could be smelled before spotted as the not so nice remains had been exposed sending a distinct odour our way. Two terns came by the tent while eating breakfast. We are now only 105km from the coast and about 105km to DYE3 that is our next waypoint.


A very atmospheric night changing kite right on the Arctic Circle  latitude

The Icecap -You would think that after more than 40 days on the icecap you would be very tired of starring at the same flat and white landscape with no obstacles for variation. Not the case, the eyes fast learn to see all the many variations, valleys, sun/ shadows, the ever entertaining millions shapes of the sastrugis and the funny tricks by the eyes seeing ice falls, land and big lakes, and keep finding it fascinating. What an amazing place the ice cap is. Already looking forward to going back in two months’ time :) :) :)



Day 41, 14 June, N66"52' W40"37', 2172m, 30km, total 3091km
Again the wind is so teasing us and not sticking to the weather forecast. We are supposed to have really good wind from north brining us on the highway down south. We've passed the latitude of our beginnings and now only have less than a 1000km loop left down south. On our good days this would only take 4-5 days, but looks as we are not getting off that easy. With the last days pace it's going to take 15-20 days. Way too hot to day 0C and very sticky snow. The tent is an absolute hellhole to sleep in now. It’s designed to retract the heat of the sun mainly for use in Antarctica with no ventilation in the ceiling only the entrance, that we cannot open while we are moving. So from last week wearing as many layers as possible in the sleeping bag, it's now to stripped off on top of the bags sweeting bullets.


Ramon with the 'roadmap'

Day 40, 13 June, N67"06' W40"15', 2263m, 28km, total 3061km
Spend all day yesterday taking down the tent looking at the damage of the tent sledge. Several crossbars were missing and practically all nuts worn out. All got fixed and with all ripped kites stitched we were ready to do some km at midnight were the wind was to pick up. After devouring on a very successful experiment of making a steam cake in a pot using pancake mix, we were ready. But the Weather forecast didn’t hold, very week Wind and we didn’t get the 80m2 up before after trying for 4 hours. Total only 30km. As a comfort there was a stunning full moon and  a sun trying to set just bouncing off the horizon...absolutely mesmerizing. Very warm could stand by the kite waiting for wind just in three layers.



Day 39, 12 June, N67"18' W39"50', 2310m, 82km, total 3033km
With the wind turning again coming from south and all over the place, we still managed to move 82km. However the tent sledge that has been looking not to good the last week and no one dared to take a closer look at what was going on under the tent, has finally collapsed. Big sections of crossbars are missing. So a day of repair instead of sleep. Think this could have been avoided as we could have looked at it  and done running repairs  when we didn’t have good wind conditions, before the whole thing collapses and we have to spend an entire day when the wind is actual good ( came back during the morning) ...so a bit waste if time.

Thought I had the big 80 Monster kite tamed, but while trying to do a big loop that requires 1,80m arm span, it pulled me frontal out of the sled into the pulley robes. Fortunately we were hardly moving so no harm done. But will now leave the big M to Hugo when knowing we have to make a lot of loops..I know my limits.


Some major construction work on the tent sledge 
 
Day 38, 11 June,  N67”58’  W39”03’, 2650m, 205km, total 2951km, -3C day
Another stunning night with perfect conditions. A night of bling as humidity was high making everything sparkly even the kite lines was glittering. Not to many repairs, one ripped kite, to start with and fun sailing with the smaller kites 30-20m2. Crossed some ski tracks that must be Team Cornelius as they are very close. A little celebration of doing more than 200k in one day since the west coast in form of Danish pastry.



Day 37, 10 June,  N69”23’  W35”52’,  2753m, 165km total,  2746km
Stunning night and perfect conditions with lots of wind, total did 165km. The small kite collection are being aired now which makes it much more fun to kite. Used the 20m2 most of the night. The sastrugis are getting pretty big now and had me fly of the pilot seat a couple of time surfing them to fast. Managed to hold on to the steering handle though and didn’t drop the kite.
Ohh ....and we have now passed 2/3 of our route yeahaaa !!



Sastrugis -these amazing things that comes in a million shapes, never get tired looking at them. We use them for navigation, surf them and get really annoyed with them when the kite lines are caught in them, making a take off very difficult. They provide hours of entertainment just looking at their many shapes when sailing and keeps us awake as they make the ride very bumpy and a big challenge to sleep in our moving home, when you get air knocked out of you every minute going over bigger sastrugis with high speed. In Spanish they are categorized as sharks, tiger sharks, sardines, school of sardines ....
Keep wondering how it would be to kite with skis in these conditions, as the skis must easily be caught in the sastrugis when this big.


 

Day 36, 09 June, N70”26’  W32”49’, 2857m, 100km, total 2581km, -11C day
Woke up with the wind turned from south to Northwest, so quick all meals in one go and off we went. Lots of strong wind but nothing in the upper layers. We had the usual technical problems, broke a new repaired kite, changed kite size 3 times and didn't even make it to the turnaround point of yesterday's ski trip in 4 h.  But eventually more stable winds came during M+E shift and they knocked of 100km in just 5 hours.
Conditions has changed dramatically with strong difficult shifting winds the last couple of days carrying snow and with much higher temperatures and will probably stay like this all the way in the south and crossing over to the west. Fingers really love the warmer weather.

 
Day 35, 08 June -11C day
No sailing tonight as the wind came from south. So threw on the skis and went for a 4h ski. Weather fast turned into a big thick fog with snow falling. Good practice for not going in circles. Came back a little queazy from going in a whiteout.


Have been using more energy than expected and I have the sickest fat cravings. Now it's not bread with butter but butter with a little bit of bread and butter on and in everything possible. Catastrophically the rations of butter was miscalculated and we have been on reduced rations for a while.....seal fat is left which some of the other eats, but I think not! too hard on the stomach and the taste not the best. We use it to lubricate the kite pulley as well!!. Unfortunately I eat to slow and because I start our three meal in a row session with oats, I’m rarely able to get enough of the nice fatty cheese and ham Ramon  brought from Spain as here it’s who gets there first get some.

Day 34, 07 June, N71”19’  W32”14’ 2687m, 116km, total 2481km, -7C day
Very slow start with difficult wind and another broken kite to be sowed. Wind finally became stable when M+E started and we did 116km in total. Really nice with some proper progress.

Had a little precious moment of magic while waiting an hour 300m from the sled for signal to set up the kite. A little lonely lost migrating sparrow swivelled around me, sat by my feet looking a bit bewildered at me before heading south. 
Now on latitude with Constable Point & Liverpool land one of Greenland's many Spectacular gems - good memories.


View from the kite end, the tiny dot at the end (300m) is the sledge
 

Day 33, 06 June, N72”21’  W32”11’, 2832, 77km, total 2365km, -5C day
Night started waiting for wind, when it finally arrived taking up the 80m2, we found a hole in the kite, so down with it and on to repair business. Sewing the kite for a few hours, not the favourite thing to do for the fingers. Did 33km and changed to the 24m2 as there was a lot of wind from N in the upper layers. M+E did another 34km. Tricky and fun navigation trying not getting to close to the coast. Wind varied a lot and in different layers.  The days are getting warmer and the tent is getting unbearable hot to sleep in when sailing. The cargo sled keeps taking a lot of beating and needs new knots every day.

Sun with beautiful dogs and plateau out shinning each other this night. We figured the tracks Hugo saw yesterday must have been plane tracks not ski/pulk tracks. The science plane from the Summit science camp makes trips in the area.
Many hours spend in the sewing room


Day 32 05 June N73.02 W32.33, 3000m, 88km, total 2288km

Some really nice sailing this night. Clear blue sky followed by fog and the twilight zone making the kite disappear forming a lot of ice on the kite lines, then a nice sky with very different cloud formations than usually, guess it’s due to being closer to the coast. As the other days there are more valleys making the plateau look very different. Hugo also said he saw ski tracks, a bit strange as it can only be team Cornelius or Dixie but they were not supposed to be this high up on the plateau. Strangely as it is getting much warmer now it was a very cold night, both Hugo, Ramon and I had to jump off the sledge a couple of times and make some speedy runs to get the blood flowing. The wind unfortunately died when M+E took over and they didn't really make any km. Another tent pole snapped, not looking too good should we hit a storm if the poles can't even take the movement while on the go. Pancakes for breakfast and some sips of rum to boost morale and to celebrate reaching the altitude of 3000m!!
Breakfast and not from a boil in the bag
Day 32, 04 June, N74”23’  W32”57’ 2876m, 122km, total 2200 km -14c day

We finally got out of the wind trap we have been caught in snailing  our way through the last 5 days and did  a respectfully 122 km. Plan was to take a risk (bigger sastrugis and getting caught between land)  going lower and closer to the coast to catch a better wind. But it turned out we could keep the bearing and actual reached our highest point so far 2929m. ...Moral super high today J

I'm in need of getting some more calories in as I have even more problems keeping  warm with the wind coming from the side cooling us a lot when we sail and the sun in our back not giving any warmth. It's not even that cold but humid and yesterday night my hands got so cold I couldn't pilot at all. Even caught myself a tiny frostbite under one eye (was wearing googles & facemask!!) So going to try force feet myself the seal fat as butter is low.
Defrosting after some repair work

 
Day 31, 03 June,  N74”50’  W33”47’, 14km, total 2040km,  -18c day
Reached Highest altitude so fare 2800m !

You know progress is slow when to keep warm or to keep from falling asleep, you take a slow jog around the sledge while it is moving . Only a few hours of progress, no wind at all. Weather forecast don't look to good either. Could be that our strategy of staying very high on the plateau is now biting us in the behind as we have cornered ourselves in an area with very little wind. Our support in Madrid is advising us to go more east taking the risk getting stuck in the narrow channel towards the cost.

Could do with another solo ski trip again now, just to escape a bit from the no progress blues and little Spain where it is never quit. The only time the Spanish guys are not talking is when they are sleeping J,  great match with two Scandinavians who don’t have a great need to tak a lot.

It's getting warmer but still managed to get a frostbite patch on one index finger turning blackish. Very annoying, I really try to take care of the fingers, but there's just not enough blood flow in them for what we are doing.  Took another refreshing snow bath today (wearing mittens).



I'm not the only one with finger issues

Day 30, 02 June,  N74” 58’  W33”56’, 2768m, 43km, total 2026km, -18C

Again only a few hours of wind with which we could keep our bearing. So team  a bit blue. That we have now spend a month on the ice is also starting to show, everybody is more quiet when we have our daily meal. I defiantly could do with another solo ski tour….the sun is everything !



Day 29, 01 June, N75”19’  W34”29’, 2709m, 43 km total 1983km
So frustrating now, seems a pattern the last couple of days, starting the first kite takes for ever and when finally going the wind soon drops and turns. Digging deep to find the inner zen... Started the shift by sorting out 8 broken small lines in the new 50m kite we just tested and was going really good with 90 dgr upwind. Repair will take a lot of time so it have to wait, then setting up the 60 m2, one kite line robe snapped, making a total mess of one 300m kite line taking 2 hours to sort out.....deeeeep breath! and then we start the whole setting up the kite process again.

Hugo sorting out 300m of noodles
 
Day 28, 31 May,  N75”41’  W34”56’, 38km, total 1940km, -25C night
Winds not to favourable, could not hold the bearing with a SW wind. We tried one of the new kites and was able to go 90 dgr up wind. Very good, but the kite is more difficult and heavier to handle as it is meant for a different type of kite system. Then finally we broke one of the smaller lines of the kite, So not much progress again today. 
 
The finger situation -Fingers have had a tough year starting with some very mild frost nips in the Himalayas just to get worse nips in Norway. And now daily trying to make them work without any feeling left in the tips, doing the never ending repairs and tying untying knots, all not possible with mittens or heavy gloves. Worst is the first 5 minutes after a piloting session changing to co-piloting.  Then I go very quiet for about 5 minutes trying to get some life back in the fingers while fiddling with the gps and big mittens to check bearings  (not whining, but its quite painful and getting worse every day). No mittens seem to be able from keeping my fingers going total dead when piloting. Guess having the arms raised above the heart and needing to grip hard to hold on to the steering handles is not the best positions if you can’t get the blood flowing. Fingers defiantly need a rest and some TLC to recover after this trip.

Multiple layers of mittens trying to keep the fingers warm

Day 27, 30 May, N75”59’  W35”30’,  2564m, 63km total 1902km, -25 C night
A start requiring all inner Zen... 3h to take up the first kite of the day. First the quick release went off accidental making an utter mess of the lines that took an hour to sort out. Second attempt both kite assembling robes broke for unknown reason (at least a variation to broken kite lines or pulley lines) and again a line mess. Third time we needed to reposition the sledges one by one man hauling  as the wind direction change a bit to lessen the force on the lines when starting. A typical day on the ice... Requiring a lot of patience. Cold night, could not get warm today sailing.


Messy lines
Day 26 29 May N76.31 W36.23, 2526m, 139km, total 1839km, -19C
Uneventful night, okay wind somewhat shifting, so lots of kite changes from 60 down to 20 and up again. The heart of the kite system the pulley has taken a beating and is working very bad. Balls falling out making the steering very difficult and hard. The pulley robe keep getting stuck. Not too good as the spare pulleys brought are apparently also broken. Looong way to go still....
Spottet another little lost sparrow outside the tent this morning.
Kite pulling system

 
Day 25, 28 may, N77”42’,  W38”04’, 2405m, 31km, total 1700km
No wind all day, H+K did a lot of repairs while the rest slept and tried to distribute some weight from the cargo sledge. Wind only strong enough for two hours of sailing…. very slow. M+E also snailed there way on their shift. Temperature very warm, -8c at 19 o'clock. Spotted two terns going west, strange to see life on the ice.

Repair work

Day 24, 27 May, N77”58’  W38”30’, 170km, total 1665 km
Wind fated out again to just a breeze during the morning, but at least we made it past N77, a big breakfast followed by double dinner was deserved.
News from the two other teams does not look to good. Team Cornelius stuck somewhere NE of us seem to have come across big sastrugis and broken all their kites and apparently are mentioning needs of evacuation in their blog, worst place for that too. Team Dixie has not made any updates last 7 days. Seems as we has chosen right in keeping as high on the icecap as possible, to avoid the big sastrugis.


Dinner with a view

Day 23, 26 May
Wind finally turned to the right direction coming from north and M+E could start sailing. The wind speeded up when H+K took over and we were down to a 12m2 kite in 70 kmh wind. The wind carried a lot of snow with it, so much we had to go down to a 150 m line as I totally disappeared in the snow when trying to set up the kite 300m from the sledge. To take advantage of the wind window we have been going nonstop 4X11h with only crackers for food.  The cargo sledge has started suffer, probably do to the Teflon sheets we removed to use on the pilot sledge and also because the lateral pull really take it out on the sledge. Nearly lost one box of food and a bag of fuel. Spotted a little lost black sparrow.

The strange track we leave
Day 22, 25 May
Still no sailing, spend a cold night outside the tent waiting for wind. As we are divided into two shifts, one shift now sleeps in the tent and one sails or if there is no wind, just wait outside to be ready if the wind shows up (tent to small to be use by both shift as original planned). This means some really long ours especially if there are no repairs to do. Luckily the pilot tent can be closed a bit giving some shelter from the cold and wind. The wind never came and unfortunately I couldn’t even go on another ski as my skis are now used to support the tent that needed some extra support.

Eusebio making it comfortable in the pilot tent waiting for wind
 
Day 21,  25 May
Surreal night, no sailing so at two in the morning while the rest of the team were sleeping,  I went for a 6h ski. Going in to the sun, the tent soon disappeared and I had the top of the world to myself, 360dgr of awesomeness, white blanket, blue blue sky and bright bright sun. Was followed back by my own shadow as company…….could have continued forever :) :) :)
 
How lucky I am, 360dgr just me and my ski tracks
Day 20, 24 May, N79”25’  W40”21’,  2238m, 29km
Another try of a bit of progress. H+K did about 30 km in 6 hours, painfully slow. Two of the tent poles got damaged either do to the movement during travel or too much stuff inside the tent while g. Weather forecast not too good with south wind lasting to tomorrow midnight. Exceptional warm thinking about what latitude we are on. Still pretty cold though sailing during the early morning hours with the sun in the back.
In the painfully slow last hours of Hugo and my shift, we were starting to fantasize of all the ways you can eat toasted rugbrød (Danish brown rye bread). Food cravings has started to set in.
 
The process of getting a kite up. This can take anytime between 20 min and up to 3 hours depending on how it was packed being taken down, if it's the first kite of the day or if the previous kite crashed.  As kite changes can slow down the daily progress for hours, It is therefore absolutely forbidden to put down a flying kite unless it has to be swapped for another size or when having a longer rest. During team shift the kite is therefore being kept in the air in neutral position, which can be quite challenging in powerful winds. So it often happens that the sledge starts going when someone is taking a pee, a bit of a strange feeling as it usually takes a while before they can stop again.
If it's the first kite of the day, the wind is checked, size decided and one prs plod  the 150 or 300 m depending on line chosen ( guess work of in what layer the wind is) with the kite a shovel at the same time laying out the two kite lines. Then the kite is laid out in the correct wind direction, purring snow on the edges to keep it from taking off. The lines from the kite untangled if not done when taken down. This can take up to 1hour if it's all spaghetti (usual after a crash). Cold job for the fingers, tying up tiny knots. When the kite is done and attached to the lines, hand signal to the pilot who hopefully can get the kite up with a little help lifting the head of the kite. If everything goes well ( 50% of the time) the kite gets up and the sledge starts coming towards you. Then you start to run tward the sledge and throw yourself on the sledge while moving. If not hitting the pilote sledge which can be  quit tricky if the speed is high then you have to throw yourself on the cargo sledge and the crawl back jumping on to the pilot sledge. Often things doesn't go so well, do to change in wind direction or wrong choice of starting angle or kite... Then the only thing to do is start all over again.
The process after a crash or a quick release - Usually a kite crash is followed by a quick release of the kite , meaning the whole kite pulley system with the kite and lines are detached from the sledge often flying away a great distance. Then you go run for the kite ( or trekking if totally disappeared, bringing your gps). When the kite is found, the whole process of setting up the lines and kite starts again after entangling the lines that are usual in a mess.
It happens that you have to quick release the kite if it is suddenly to powerful or if the pilot makes a wrong move or it releases itself do to some rope getting caught. This last one can be quite painful if you’re not quick enough to throw the steering handle to the side. Then you get a big whiplash on your fingers sending your mittens flying (my mittens have been flying a lot). So all in all it requires lots and lots of patience getting the kite to fly...quite demanding when you are an inpatient person who just want to go go... As the strain on the sledge and kite system are so big do to our weight, we often also have to reposition the sledges one by one for a better starting angle, adding another 30-45 min to the process.
The big Monster 80m2 kite trying to take off
 
Day 19, 23 May, N79”38’  W41”07’,  2217m, 7 km, total 1472km
Starting at 24:30, H+K started in S/SW sailing with lateral pull ( moving the kite pulley system to one side ), this worked well without tearing the sledge apart and we could go about 50- 60 degree to the wind with the 60 m2 kite. Wind was weak and we only did 7 km in 2 hours. Changed to the big monster 80, but couldn't get it going as the wind turned.
Took a snow bath today, very refreshing probably not much cleaner and almost killed the toes as I forgot to bring something to stand on.


Ready for a roll in the snow

Day 18, 22 May
No sailing this night. Escaped the cramped, snoring confinement of the tent and bivied on top of the kite bags. Best sleep so fare. Wind turned a bit towards SW so we are going to give it a try and sail with some lateral pull (kite pulley system mounted to the side of the sledge instead of centre front)
As the Spanish way is being a bit dramatic, I learn a lot of Spanish swear words. Most things not going exactly as planned usually has to be accompanied with verbal outlets. The most typical phrase used would be -Mierda puta marde.
 
Day 17 21 may, N79”42’  W41”19’,  2212m, 143km, total 1465 km
Started at 4 in the morning. Good conditions very bumpy, small hard sastrugis, 60m2 kite both shift. H+k started and did 56km in 5h. M+E did 6h but drifted too much toward east, now making it very difficult to turn south keeping away from the coast on the east. Even only 32km from N80 it is too risky now to continue north as we may strand and not be able to navigate down the east coast with the bearing we would hit N80 with. So waiting game now for some NW wind to start carry us south.
The weight of the sledge is so heavy that our sailing range is limited to 45 dgr to the wind instead of 90 or even 110 as expected we could do with the new kites or shifting the position of the kite pulley system. But unfortunately the sledge suffers a lot from the forces that the heavy weight enforces. This limits our progress substantial and is going to make it even more difficult to navigate along the east coast where we cannot afford to drift too much to either E or W.

Day 16, 20 May N78”30’ W43”38’, 2453m, 99 km, total 1322 km
We did not get going before 4 in the morning, very long cold day of repairs. H+ K did 4h but did not do a lot of km as there was something wrong with the setup, same problem as yesterday for M+E. We were snapping kite lines as twigs?. M+E manage to do 100 km in 7 h, but deviated too much towards west for us to be able to reach N80. The choice is now to wait for a better wind direction or just start heading east not reaching our goal of N80. We need to do some major repairs to the pilot sledge where the cross beams are coming of, before going again. So maybe the change of more favourable wind direction will come during that time.
 
Eating on this expedition is a bit different than what I'm used to on expeditions. As we are not limited too much by weight, half our hot meals are being cooked. For some reason this has landed on my lap, which is okay as it is then much quicker and then I'm sure what is cooked is something I like, so not too bad. The rest of the hot meals are freeze dried food. Unfortunately not the frieze dried we ordered from Fuzion Food  (best on the market) as the delivery got stuck in Belgium and didn’t get to CPH in time for take off.  Breakfast is very Spanish, just biscuits... But Hugo and I who needs a more substantial breakfast manage to get some oats with us. Snacking is Spanish ham, cheese and knækbrød (Scandinavian hardbread).  Must have brought 30 kg cheese with us. Food for when we are sailing is nuts, cereal bars and ...27 kg of Greenlandic food consisting of; dried cod  (very good) dried ammasets a small sardine like fish ( not so good) seal blubber ( ….a very required taste) and dried whale and musk ox (pretty good but tough). So in all we don't go hungry, lots of food. Only problem is, as  we are doing shifts were its not really possible to eat and are therefore  eating all meals at the same time in a period of 2-3 hours when we are not moving. Some start with the hot meal and continue to lunch and then breakfast. I usually start with breakfast as I just woke up, then a hot meal and then try to find room to squeeze in the cheese, ham and hard bread, if not hiding it in my squirrel bag for later( have to or the other will eat it) .
Selection of dried Greenlandic food snack
 ammasets, whale, mosk ox and cod 
 
Day 15, 19 May, N77”45’ W46”03’,  2561m, 96km
Started at 19 with  SW weak wind. We did 96 km with the 80m2 kite, It was very difficult keeping bearing straight N.
Sailed for 7 hours with a fantastic sun dog in front all the time.....just magical, never get tired of it.

 
M+E broke the kite line right from the start of their shift. the cargo sledge had also lost some crossbars and another tent pole broke. The wind has now come back but it looks like we have to spend the day doing repairs.
The afternoon also brought a bit of a different job. While doing the scientific measurements I accidently lost a part of the measurement probe 3m down a small drilled hole in the ice. So got to spend 3h digging a 3 m deep hole to retract the device. Pretty hard job as there was layers of blue ice.
 

Three hours of work

Keeping warm during the cold night sailing with 5 layers. 1st and 2nd layer super warm and 'odour' free from Aclima. Keeping feet toasty with a pair of Alfa North Pole extreme ski boots paired with 5 mm felt liners, heavy wool socks a garbage plastic bag and thin wool liners. For the very cold nights sailing, same set up but changing the Alfas with a pair of  bigboots; heavy mega 5cm foam boots specially developed by Altus for the expedition.

Day 14, 18 May, N76”55’ W47”01’,  2679m, 184km, total 1125km
Started late at 19 with 2x2 hour shift and 2x6h K+H started with the 80m2  kite and perfect wind from S/SE making the kite very easy to handle. We did 107 km in 6 hours and M&E another 77km and we have now passed the latitude of Thule.
Magical night cruising above 20 km/h on the top of the sphere covered in a blanket of diamond  and followed by the sun with full para helium  never leaving the horizon.
Being taught old school navigation without gismos and tested by Hugo during the cold morning hours to keep warm.
A bit of cultural difference trying to adapt to “the Spanish way”. Things has in general to be discussed for a very long time, in Spanish of course, often a bit dramatic without no obviously conclusion for the once not understanding the discussion, then a coffee break, then maybe a bit more discussion and then a siesta...then we can start doing something. I’m sure the three Spaniards think the more no-nonsense, non-verbal , just going ahead trying to fix things right away, Scandinavian approach, that I and Hugo have are just as odd. But most important we make it work together and get things done in the end.
The very important Siesta!
 
Day 13 17 May N75”16’  W46”35’,  2702m, 144km in 12h total 947 km
Started sailing at 23 last night until 05. A challenging night, was going with a 80m2 kite and 300m line in almost whiteout most of the night making the kite disappearing and difficult to steer. You more or less have to guess what the kite is doing by looking at the kite lines. Wind picked up during M & E’s shift and they ended gong with a 20m2 kite.
 
Sleeping moving or not moving ?. Are having a bit of trouble sleeping in general which is not very good as you really has to concentrate kiting. Forces are just too big to lose concentration for just a second. When we are moving, we sleep 2 or 3 in the tent with all personal luggage inside bumbling around on comfy Thermarest to take some of the rough bumps when the sledge goes over sastrugis. The movement however makes it very difficult to sleep, let alone trying to take a drink or worse  hit the pee bottle ( there is no stopping for needy people). Its like being on top of one of those inflatable things being towed after a speedboat. If laying on the stomach going over a big sastrugi you actual get the air knocked out of you. Doesn't seem to be bothering the others who snores away as soon as they hit the sleeping bag. When we are not moving all five us sleeps in the tent meant for four without the Thermarest only foam flooring as there are no room. We are literally stacked as sardines, without any way of moving or turning. This topped with 4 very heavy snorers, gives me a bit of a hard time getting any sleep, so starting to be a bit of a quiet monster in the mornings when we are not moving... There's always the alternative to drop the tent and bivi out  in -25C , that may have to be the choice soon to get a good night of sleep if we are having more days of not moving.

 Our somewhat lively home
 
 
Day 12, 16 May N73”58’ W46”22’,  2729m, 170km , Total 803km, -23C night
Started shift at 21:30 to 04:00. Really good sailing but very heavy as we went with the 60 m2 kite through the night looping our way to accelerate. Last couple of hours I had to let Hugo overtake one steering handle as my arms was just done. We managed to sail this way very well with one handle each. Are quite challenged by keeping myself warm when having the co-piloting task, no matter how many layers I’m wearing as I’m used to keeping warm by moving. So god a bit to cold when shift was over and had one more sleepless night in our dancing tent trying to heat up. Really could have used some hot water bottles, but we are boiling water when we are not moving and the thermos are usually only lukewarm when our shift is over and we are climbing in to the tent and sleeping bags. Even our tea is only lukewarm. Hugo claims I cant keep warm because I don't eat the seal blubber...his probably right, but I'll stick to butter for now.
Tried setting up the 80 kite with a 300m line around 18 but wind was too weak to do any sailing.
Got a message saying that both of the other team Dixie and Wing over Greenland has passed our tracks and are ahead of us? Very surprising, but then again they have been able to move when we couldn't and are probably much more efficient in their time management. The weight of the sledges defiantly have a big effect of the angle of wind which we can sail. On the previous expeditions with less heavier sledge , the sailing range to the wind was up to  a 90 angle which is now down to a 45 angle. This is one of the discoveries on this exped. sailing a much heavier sledges. That the two teams are ahead also means we will probably not be the first to do a full circumnavigation by the means of wind.
Day 11, 15 may, -15C day
Spend the day on repairs. Sat still for 4 hours in -15C sewing the tent. Not to good self-management from my side as I got a bad frost nip on one but checks sitting in an awkward position and also on some of the fingers that I know is prone to nips. So not too proud of that, should be much wiser. Pilot sledge had also taken a beating and one teflon panel was swapped with one from the cargo sledge.  A hard day of work.
A pattern of our progress has begun showing. When we go we do a huge amount of km, followed by many hours doing repairs to the sledges, kites or tents. The huge weight of the sledge compared to previous exp. defiantly seems beyond what the kites or structure of the sledges individual can take. This takes a bit of a toll that so many things are breaking that shouldn’t. I'm told this is nothing compared to the previous exped. ??


Tent down for repair
 
Day 10 14 may, N72”32’  W45”28’, 2748m, 227km, total 633km,  -20C night
Started around 16 yesterday in really good wind condition using a 30m2 kite. 4 hours all sailing together. Came across some ski/pulk tracks, must be team Cornelius & cavendish, they must not be to fare away but we didn't see them.
Hugo and I continued on our shift having  some really good sailing reaching our first milestone 2500m on the plateau. Our shift ended at 4 in the morning sailing directly in to a stunning 'sun dog' ( three sun phenomenon).... No words!
This morning after Manolo & Eusebios shift we discovered a big tear in the tent. Also the pilot tent had another pole break. Seem as we are going to stay here for a while. Can't repair the tent before the weather calms down.


Sun dogs

Day 09, 13 may, 2170m
Heavy wind during the night, covered in snow this morning. Wind turned from N to SE so we are going to give it a go sailing once we've dug ourselves free.
Ramon an Hugo using mental power. If you stare long enough the wind will change direction.

Day 08, 12 may. -23C night
No sailing. Wind picked up during the night but still in the wrong direction E/NE. Max wind measured 45 kmh. Slept until noon and tried to think out a system to distribute the forces from the big kites so it will be easier for me to handle. M and E also had big problems handling the 30m kite  during there shift, so it seems as there is a general problem with the main kite pulley, It's not running as it should.
We spend some time today finding out how to use the sledge as cover digging us self under the sledge in case the tent goes in a storm.
Team doing well but very different type of team effort and dynamic than what I'm use to.
Sunset again magical and out of this world. Really wish I could send pictures. Unfortunately we cannot get the com connection up running and have now given up making it work.


Digging shelter under the pilot sledge

 
Day 07, 11 may, N70”32’, W46”38’, 2163m, Total 406km
No wind today. A bit of repairing, sowing ripped kites, tying knots. Seems as the sledges are just too heavy and the forces needed too much for the equipment and kites to handle. To lessen the stress on the robes and kite when starting, we now have to reposition the sledge almost every time we start, so it's now going to take even longer time to put up a kite. We tried with pulley systems moving all three sledges in on go, but as the robes we are carrying are dynamic, the elasticity takes up most gained and therefore takes a long time to move. Instead we now try to separate each sledge and move them individually. Very heavy work as it has to be done by the team piloting so only 2 or 3 prs while the other team is sleeping adding to the weight.  We need to figure out another way as this is going to break our backs doing this 3-6 times pr day and can take up to an hour each time.

A bit of man hauling to reposition the sledges

Day 06 10 may, 21km , -22C night
Climbing steadily NE up to the plateau, which will be a small milestone at 2500m and the highway straight north to N80. Big kites used today 60 & 80m2. They are very heavy to handle and I'm lacking about 25kg dead weight to actual be in control of the big monster 80m2 kite. I have to stem my feet against the front of the runners leaning backwards pulling in a horizontal position to able the force required. Not really durable for many hours so have to figure out some way to make it easier.
 
Day 05, 9 may,  N69”29’ W46”42’
Having hat some very easy days of sailing, today brought big challenges for both shifts. In total we only did 21 km. The wind direction was not favourable and weak. We ripped two kites and broke the main pulley to the kite steering system. Had to quick release several times which tent to break things. Defiantly got a good work out running up and down changing kites and doing loops with the kite to create some acceleration. To get the best conditions for sailing, less sastrugies an stable wind, we are heading as high up the plateau as possible (above 2500m).
Spend some hours making fixed pulley systems to reposition the sledges when starting. they are so heavy that equipment breaks if in a position with too much friction.



Pulley system for reposition the sledge

Hugo and I are going to be piloting from early evenings and into the early mornings. That will be the coldest hours but we get to enjoy both sunset and sunrise which has been out of this world the last two nights. Wish I was able to send pictures but try to imagine - sailing on a never ending pale blue surface, on one side a big blue moon is rising on the other side the sun resting in an incredible  golden sea that it seems  you’ll disappear into,  and for the final tuch both sides covered by an artist airbrush of red, blue and golden colours.



Day 04,  8 may N69”27’ W46”40*, 1900m,  166km
Exiting Sailing this afternoon teaming up with Hugo doing av. of 20 kmh (could easily do 35 km/h but this is too rough for the sledges with this terrain) and covered 160km in 15h. Spend 8 h repairing the pilote sledge that was falling apart going a bit too rough. Repairs are a part of the windsledge game (mainly broken knots) but I was quite surprised of how much repairs that was already necessary after just two days.
Absolutely stunning sunset and never ending sky. Just wish I could sent pictures. On Manolo and Eusebios shift we passed a big crevasse field on the latitude to illusiat and went over a 10m wide snow covered crevasse doing 40 kmh, a bit to exiting that one!.


Kite being swallowed by the sun
 Found big hole in the tent potential losing stuff when sailing.  We started the scientific testing that has to be done every day.


Manolo at it working on the scientific testing
 
The piloting shift - We will probably sail most hours during the Night as the winds seems more stabel after midday until 11 in the morning. We will do shifts with two teams me and Hugo and I and Manolo and Eusebiou ,with Ramon overlapping both shift. The schedule when there are no major repairs, will be starting  in the evening doing 2x 9-10 hours followed by a 4-6h downtime for hot meals, boiling water and a very important siesta for the Spanish. Repairs are supposed to be done during the shift. In my view a bit much downtime were you don't get to sleep anyway so might as well do repairs after eating, not so effective but I will adapt.

Pilot team Karin and Hugo
 

Pilot team Manolo and Eusebio

 


El Capitan - Ramon
 
Day 02, 5 may
We've spend all day assembling the sledges and doing a few repairs. Very little wind and wrong direction NE, we need S/SE to head north.
Finished with the sledges late evening we played around with a few small kites getting familiar with them. Then suddenly the wind picked up and turned. So everything was thrown into the sledge and off we went with a 80m kite doing 16km/h going into the night and the most fantastic sunset...absolutely awesome start!!
So our first shift begun at 4 this morning and Hugo and I did 10 hours of sailing. The kites are pretty easy to handle unless you do something wrong, then they are scary powerful. Also pretty difficult to get up.




...and we are sailing for the first time, pilot tent still not mounted
 
 
Day 01, 4 May, N67”01’  W47”57’, 1554m
Woke up this morning with the message that our departure for the icecap had been move forward to this afternoon instead of tomorrow as a storm was supposed to build up, so the Icelandic twin otter are only going to fly today before going back to Iceland. Not exactly ready for departure yet, but we rushed the final packing of food and equipment and headed towards the airfield and the waiting plain for take-off at 14.
The drop off on the icecap went very smooth, equipment was unloaded quickly and suddenly we were all alone on a very quiet ice cap. We started assembling the sledges and tent right away as we were expecting the storm arriving any minute. However it never came not even the slightest fart of wind, guess the Icelandic pilots just wanted to go back to Iceland early!
First night and a bit of a challenge fitting 5 prs in a 4 prs tent. Did not get much sleep as I was squeezed halfway up against the tent wall having with perfect surround sound of big snorers. Luckily this arrangement will change when we start sailing doing shifts of 10h rest\10h piloting or navigation /4h repair eat time.
Communication still not up so only Iridium.
 
3 May Kangerlussuaq
We arrived in Kangerlussuaq in the afternoon flying directly from Copenhagen and lodged ourselves into the OldCamp next to the airport. Hugo who was in Nuuk arrived some hours later and finally the whole team was gathered for the first time. 



Team 2014 Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition
(Ramon, Manolo, Karin, Eusebio, Hugo)
We started doing a bit of equipment packing, but as we have all day tomorrow for that we headed out for a take-off dinner. As tourist season hasn’t begun yet, Kangerlussuaq was quite dead and it was a big challenge finding somewhere to get any food at all. Ended up having possible the worst Thai food ever, that needed some extra beers to be able to get down. 
Not exactly packing light. Total weight incl. 5 explorers 1,5 ton!