Expedition Amundsen Wrap and Notes

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The Expedition Amundsen event that Elaine and I signed up for back in May 2016 (or at least bought plane tickets for) was a success. Yes we made mistakes and no we didn’t win, but we did as well as we could given our polar travel experience level, as well as the logistics of traveling so far to race. Honestly, our goal going in was to finish and not make fools of ourselves, and we did considerably better than that. We are happy and there is a sense of contentment. Of course, we’d like to go back and do better, but this will not be a summer of discontent.

This blog entry is simply an accumulation of notes I took. There is an elaborate write-up by Elaine and I on Warren Miller’s site at: http://www.skinet.com/warrenmiller/the-expedition-amundsen-series-part-1. The artistic story can be found there. This is more of a personal resource, written quickly, as we have copious amounts of planning to do for the CDT/GDT trip.

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Before we move on to that expedition walking 3,600 miles from Mexico to Kakwa Lake, British Columbia, I wanted to wrap up some thoughts on the race before I lose them. It was meant to be a stepping stone for a 2018 ski across Greenland, and the lessons learned must be documented. We were fortunate to be in something of a hub of polar exploration knowledge, learning the Norwegian way to do things. They are the best at this, so you could do worse copying their techniques. The greatest value of the event was the lessons learned. In no particular order, here are notes from my journal:

  • Rent car and sled for future race. Or utilize Vik Pensjonat folks for ride from Bergen.
  • piteraq.no is a great resource.
  • Learn to use the sled bag properly.
  • Carabiner on sled for setting up tent in heinous weather.
  • Sleep system – get organized.
  • Two pairs of skis potentially.
  • Alfa boots are the shizz!
  • Get a better start. Don’t line up in the back.
  • Challenge pulling camp in super cold and wind. Must secure stuff well.
  • Gloves need work. Must develop a better system. Research or make like Cille Nille.
  • Watch film “Crossing the Ice” with Gamme.
  • polarview.met.no has current sea ice status.
  • Slightly warmer pants and jacket with fur cuff. Consider Down Pants too.
  • Need a much warmer down jacket.
  • Warm stove pump before using to avoid disaster.
  • Research better stove. Primus. 2 stoves, sameEXA2.jpg
  • Great result considering stomach flu, Elaine cold, crazy travel, poor systems, horrible start, too long at Litlos, wasted time at Hellevassbu, breaking trail to Litlos
  • 2nd place, 27:48, earned respect, learned tons, cool prizes.
  • Great stepping stone – all in all a win. First Americans ever to do the race. First non-Norwegians ever to podium.
  • Would like to do it with systems dialed and more knowledge of race. Robert Sorlie model.
  • Overall, a great winter of learning a new skills and setting self up for future polar exploration.
  • Blue wax works well when cold. Don’t be afraid of wax and pulk. On very cold post race ski days, Swix Green would have been desirable. Of course, this was the coldest snap on Hardangervidda in two years. Normal in Greenland.
  • Small tracks on Hardangervidda likely belong to arctic fox.
  • Check out Bård Haug’s blog
  • Greenland takes 26 days – most go west to east. Logistically easier.EXA3.jpg
  • Foam on tent floor makes things more comfy, like a carpet.
  • Specifically practice descending with sled in breakable crust snow. Get more comfortable on descents in general.
  • Get wind flaps from Petra for Hillerberg Nammatj.
  • Olympus Tough #4 – good camera for arctic conditions.
  • Plastic case to carry all your shit in the pulk.
  • Waterproof box for matches.
  • Start stove immediately upon getting in tent. Warmth.
  • Nøronna mitts.
  • Upsize Alfa Boots and put in Palau liner. Brilliant solution to cold feet.
  • “To become a successful explorer one must become an entertainer” – Amundsen. He didn’t like it, but it was a necessary evil. I agree!
  • Resourcefulness – “He (Amundsen) might question a man about a difficult task or give somebody an impossible assignment. If he got the answer “it can’t be done” he was through with the man then and there.”
  • Team building and character judge are two of your strengths. Amundsen had these as well.
  • A cutting board is great for cutting and placing the stove.
  • Mukluks please!
  • Candles are awesome. Bring lots.
  • Learn how to Kite Ski.
  • EXA 2018 plan: better organization, Mountain Race, NNN BC Size 42 (maybe 43 – Alfa’s run huge). Elaine size 38. 35 mm mohair kickers.
  • Greenland Expedition
  • Svalbard – must go
  • Get a sewing machine to make stuff – Russian doll mitten style with thick wool.
  • Fitness build up this year was fine. More overnights would be beneficial. Nordic skiing and racing built high end fitness. Pulling pulk up Niwot and 4OJ Road super valuable.
  • Avoid major colds in season, and develop a better diet.
  • A winter or two living in Eidfjord and training on the Hardangervidda on a regular basis would be so valuable.
  • ElaineEXA.jpgDanEXA.jpg

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Expedition Amundsen photos taken by Kai-Otto Melau

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