Hey friends and family. If you’d like to follow our ski across Greenland, check out this link. We’ll try to update it each day with a brief description of happenings on the ice. And if you want to message us, we’d love it! It’s great to hear from folks and helps us keep spirits high. Heading to Iceland tomorrow, Greenland Tuesday, hope to start the trip on my birthday April 19 if all goes well. Now, time to navigate the logistics of airports, 250 pounds of luggage, two flights and two helicopter rides.
Here’s a quick and dirty gear list of what all we’re taking to Greenland. This isn’t a nice write up like the one I did for the Continental Divide Trail, but it gets the point across. The format is also what I generally use for our backpacking trips, where I really care about weight. And while I care about weight for this trip, I’m not sure I want to be alarmed by just how heavy everything is! It’s enough for me to know that it’s standard for a month long polar-style expedition sled to weigh 165lbs. So I’m going to say I’m in that range!
This list is my personal gear – Dan’s gear is pretty similar, although without things like the Freshette, Diva Cup, and sports bra, obviously
|Gear Item||Specific||Weight (lb.)||Have||Packed!|
|Sled w/harness & poles||Acalpulka Expedition Tour 135||✔︎||✔︎|
|Arctic Bedding||Piteraq XL||✔︎||✔︎|
|Sleeping Pad||Closed-cell foam||✔︎||✔︎|
|Sleeping Pad||Therm-A-Rest X-Therm||✔︎|
|Sleeping Bag||WM Puma 5’6”||✔︎||✔︎|
|Ski Poles||Asnes Fram 140||✔︎||✔︎|
|Skis w/bindings||Asnes Ceclie 185||✔︎||✔︎|
|Skins x2||Asnes full length, nylon & mohair||✔︎|
|Kicker Skins x2||Asnes 45mm mohair||✔︎|
|Ski Boots||Alfa Polar||✔︎|
|Warm Boots||Steger Arctic Mukluks||✔︎|
|Shell Jacket||Bergans Ceclie||✔︎|
|Shell Pants||Arcteryx Alfa||✔︎|
|Softshell Jacket||Arcteryx Gamma||✔︎|
|Light Pants||Fjallraven Bergtagen||✔︎|
|Big Insulation||RAB Positron||✔︎|
|Light Insulation||Fjallraven Bergtagen||✔︎|
|Light Thermal Top||Kari Traa Tikse||✔︎|
|Light Thermal Bottom||Kari Traa Tikse||✔︎|
|Heavy Thermal Top||Kari Traa Rose||✔︎|
|Heavy Thermal Bottom||Kari Traa Rose||✔︎|
|Sleep Thermal Top||Kari Traa Ulla||✔︎|
|Sleep Thermal Bottom||Kari Traa Ulla||✔︎|
|Wool Tank Top||Icebreaker 200||✔︎|
|Underwear x2||Icebreaker Siren|
|Bra||Kari Traa Ness||✔︎|
|Liner Socks||Bridgedale Race||✔︎|
|VBL Socks||Plastic bags|
|Thick Socks||Darn Tough|
|Sleep Socks||Darn Tough|
|Mid Layer Top||Melanzana Fleece||✔︎|
|Mid Layer Bottom||Melanzana Fleece||✔︎|
|Light Gloves||Hestra Touch Point Wool||✔︎|
|Light Mitts||Hestra Winter Tour||✔︎|
|Warm Mitts||BD Mercury||✔︎|
|Bomber Mitts||Steger Arctic||✔︎|
|Windproof Cap||EXA Lowe||✔︎|
|Headlamp||Black Diamond Spot|
|Facewipes||Yes to primRose|
|Large Thermos||45° Latitude 64oz||✔︎|
|Food Thermos||HydroFlask 18oz||✔︎|
|Watch||Suunto Ambit 3||✔︎|
|Feminine Hygiene||Diva Cup||✔︎|
|Lip Balm||Ski Naked|
|Phone||iphone SE w/Otterbox||✔︎|
|Cards||ID/debt/insurance/passport/Global Rescue, etc.|
|External Battery||Anker PowerCore 26800|
|Cords/Earbuds||iphone charger, earbuds|
|Shoes||La Sportiva Ultra Raptor GTX|
|Crevasse Rescue Kit||Black Diamond Couloir, Black Diamond ATC Guide, Camp Corsa axe, 4 locking carabiners, 4 non-locking carabiners, Petzl Tibloc, varying prusiks||axe|
|Funfun!||Little Kitty toy|
I think Bjorn approves of the kitty!
Now, here’s our group gear:
|Gear Item||Specific||Weight (lb.)||Have||Packed!|
|Stove||MSR XGK x2||✔︎|
|Box for Cook kit w/lid for stove||Plastic||✔︎|
|Trash Bags||Lopsak Opsak, 12.25” x 20” x2||✔︎|
|Matches & Lighters|
|Snow Saw||Black Diamond Snow Saw Pro||✔︎||✔︎|
|1st Aid Kit||
second skin, neosporin, band aids, liquid bandage, Advil, Tylenol, Advil PM, Benadryl, Peptobismol, needle, athletic tape, wound closure strips, safety pins, tweezers, nail clippers, arnica, athletic tape, Ace bandage, Dr. Braunners, Tenacious Tape
Leatherman Juice CS4, therm-a-rest repair kit, Tenacious Tape, spare pole basket, stove repair kit, bailing wire, zip ties, duct tape, tent zippers, spare pole section for tent, super glue, allen key for sleds, bungee for sleds
binding, screws, steel wool, binding buddy with drill bit
Heel lifts, various wedges, bontex boards, foam, carpet tape
|Spare Pole Set||
|Brush for Ice||✔︎|
|Container for scraping ice/condensation|
Polar, green, Blue extra, cork, glop stopper, kick scraper
|Drone||DJI Mavic Pro, 3x batteries||✔︎|
|POV Camera||GoPro Hero 5|
|GPS||Garmin etrex 30x||✔︎|
|PLB||McMurdo Fast Find 220||✔︎|
|Marine Radio||Cobra Marine||✔︎|
|Weather reader||Kestrel 2500||✔︎|
|Toothpaste||Lush Toothy Tabs||✔︎|
|Solar Charger||Suntactics S-14||✔︎|
|Funfun||Deck of cards (Harry Potter for more fun!)||✔︎|
|Group Crevasse Rescue Kit||Black Diamond 7.0 dry, snow picket, ice screws x2||snow picket|
|Emergency Bivy||Terra Nova Superlite Bothy 2|
Mostly a pictures post, but time is of the essence. What would you pack?
- Review baggage requirements with airlines.
- Print Permit – 2 copies
- Secure return date from Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen & Copenhagen to Denver.
- Footbed refurbish.
- Warm socks.
- Purchase bear bangers for Polar Bears. Must do in Tassilaq.
- Focus on detailed dietary plan for expedition.
- Download music.
- Lodging in Tassilaq, Reykjavik
- Wind vane poles
- Tape poles, practice with sled bag.
- Purchase food
- Download music
- Download podcasts.
- Thank you cards to supporters and sponsors.
- Blog posts.
- Two paperback books for storm days in tents.
- Elastic for harnesses
- Six mm rope
- Fuel Canisters.
- Big stuff sacks
- Print Maps
- Melanzana Fleece Pants
- Put together repair kit
- Put together first aid kit
- AT&T International Plan
- Waypoint route across icecap and load into GPS system. (4/9)
- Order two stoves. Primus Ominifuel or MSR XKG leading candidates. (3/27)
- Rent satellite phone. (4/2)
- Order mitts. Call Steger in Ely as well as Baffin crew. (4/2)
- Mold boots. (3/25)
- Install bindings on Åsnes Nansens and Åsnes Ceciles, as well as on spare pare of Åsnes Nansens in case of equiptment failure. (3/26)
- Replace runners on sleds. (4/5)
- Cold Avenger Face Masks. (3/28)
- Dermatone. (4/4)
- Purchase necessary crevasse rescue gear + fixed rope. (4/2)
- Crampons order. (3/28)
- Determine memory card necessities. (4/8)
- Determine power plans. (3/28)
- Switch to Expedition Plan for Delorme. (4/4)
- Determine plan to get from Kulusuk to Sissimiut to Isortoq. (3/27)
- Danish cash. (4/3)
- Get candles. (4/4)
- Double poles for Hilleberg. (3/27)
- Plastic bags for feet. (4/8)
- Order hand brush for frost. (4/3)
- Purchase cooking box. (4/3)
- Pickup pots we ordered from REI for melting snow. (3/25)
- Bothy Bag. (3/28)
- How to get to Denver? (4/8)
- Little dude plan. (4/8)
- Send receipt to Scholarship fund. (4/6)
- Payment for sled bags and arctic bedding (3/27)
- Anemometer (3/28)
- barometer (3/28)
- Write in the Rain journals (4/4)
Add as necessary. Date when completed. – DV
A solid three days of training. While we’d love to get sled pulls in, I’ve been training with pack weight, which in many ways mimics workload on legs. Three straight endurance days, skinning right out the door to the ridgeline above Corona, mixed weather. Now rest, some morning nordic skis for sanity, knock off a chore a day while working, more when off.
More than any other adventure that Dan and I have embarked on, we’ve received that big question: Why?
So far, most of what we’ve done kind of makes sense to most people – even those who are not inclined towards launching themselves wholeheartedly at type-two kinds of adventures. Even if someone’s idea of a good time is not trekking across the United States for months-on-end along the spine of the Continental Divide, it seems like most can comprehend why somebody else might want to do that. The same thing goes for skiing across the Hardangervidda multiple times, or entering races, or really anything else that we’ve done. But with Greenland I’ve received the question of “Why?” astronomically more times than ever before.
Let’s be honest: it’s actually a fair enough question. We want to go to one of two icecaps in the whole world. A place with no life. And to be honest – once you’re up on a the icecap, there’s really nothing much at all except me and Dan and a vast white horizon. I know: I’ve watched videos, seen pictures. It’s a vast, non-undulating mass of white. It’s what I imagine being at sea would be like. Just on-going, never-ending, flat horizon. There are no resupply points, so we have to have everything that we might need for a month – including all of our food and fuel. This means that I’m willingly volunteering to drag a sled behind me that most likely is going to end up weighing more than I do myself. According to what I’ve seen – temperatures at freezing are the highest we might expect. To that end, -28°C is definitely a possibility. Added to that is windchill, a very real thing, as it’s not uncommon to encounter quite intense windstorms – and even though we live in a place that we somewhat-lovingly dub “Windora”, the wind there is on a whole other level, if only because there is nothing, absolutely nothing to protect us out there from the wind.
My knee-jerk reaction when someone asks me why is the in-famous, and fully incomplete answer “because it is there”. It’s a cop-out answer, to be honest. So I’ve been thinking about it. What actually draws me to this particular adventure?
I think maybe it might have started the first time I ever traveled to Europe – in 2010 I took a trip to England and Ireland, and as every plane does, we flew over Greenland. At that point, I don’t think I thought I’d ever see it up close. But something about it triggered a longing inside me. It might be impossible to look at that place out a plane window and nor wonder – what if? That feeling has not subsided the more I’ve flown over it – in fact, every time builds a stronger desire to be there, to experience it. Every adventure that Dan and I do – well, it makes me wonder…
This life is short, right? Honestly, we don’t get a whole heck of a lot of time. And maybe something I’ve learned in my short time so far is that I don’t want to let an experience slip away. I don’t want to give up on the chance to learn something else about myself. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to see what is possible. Greenland is like one of those magical lands of opportunities – and obviously I don’t mean that in the obvious sense. Since talking about Greenland, people always make the joke about how Greenland is not green and Iceland has no ice. Obviously not talking about those kinds of possibilities. I’m talking about more…
Greenland is a place that has captured my imagination: the vast openness, the wildness, the starkness that is the icecap – all of it speaks to my soul. It’s an opportunity to see and feel and experience a place that so few humans have. And the opportunity to cross it is a chance to explore myself even further than I ever have before – a chance to explore my own personal human boundaries, both the physical and the mental ones. I’m under no delusions that it will be easy. But perhaps that lack of ease is partially what attracts me. Maybe this is truly at the heart of what we consider type-two adventures: there are those of us that are strongly, inexplicably drawn to what many would deem “suffer-fests”.
I’ve read some articles that touch on the subject. Apparently there are some people that do not actually get rewarded for exercise – they for real do not get the “runner’s high”. Their bodies simply do not reward them. And then there are others – others whose bodies reward them higher than average. That’s right: some people’s bodies reward them very highly for doing things involving strenuous physical activities. My suspicion is that I fall in the later category. And so does Dan.
That’s another part of this: I want to experience absolutely everything. I want to grab this life by the horns and really feel and experience whatever it is that is waiting out there and I want nothing more than to go through it all with Dan. I’m beyond lucky to find this in a partner, but it works so well. It’s true – that feeling of strength and power and all those little reward chemicals that pump through your body when you complete something challenging are incredible. But to get to share them with the love of my life? Well, that’s just plain special.
And as I think of it more, my only real response to the Big Question is: Why would I not?
Also – I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of us as we’ve trained and worked towards this goal! You all mean so much to us. And if you would like to support us monetarily (because, let’s face it, this expedition is hella expensive!) we have a Go Fund Me at https://www.gofundme.com/expedition-greenland-team-vardami. Also, under the Donations tab here, the link is at the bottom. We plan to really share this experience via words, photos, and video when we get back!
Once again, thank you so much!
We finally got our Greenland application out just the other day. That’s been a major weight, so it’s nice to have it signed, sealed and delivered. We’ll see what happens. I do worry we don’t have enough requisite polar experience to be accepted for an independent expedition, in which case we’ll have to reevaluate our timeline. We’ll know soon enough. If we get permission, it’ll be time to buckle down and get to work, because there is much preparation to do.
This has been one of the slower starts to winter in many years in the Front Range of Colorado. Of course, there have some memorably bad years, the winter of 2011-12 coming to mind, and before that, the drought years of the 2000s. Beyond the lack of snow, it’s been very warm, most days soaring well over freezing and perhaps one or two days where nighttime temperatures dropped below zero. Certainly global warming plays a role, but a larger factor is the jet stream is sitting just to the north of us. We’re missing the brunt of the action and the cold is having a hard time settling in.
That’s at 8,800 feet above sea level, right next to the Continental Divide. Just a few miles east and 500 feet lower, in Nederland, there is virtually no snow. Meanwhile, Boulder has been downright balmy. It’s a stark contrast from last year, where December and January were like a scene out of the Shining movie, snow piling up in copious amounts on a daily basis. There was so much snow we had to park our cars a half-mile from home and ski home with groceries.
We’re actually better off than most of the state. Down south, in the San Juans, the picture is grim.
It could be an ugly summer down there if this continues. As we learned hiking and skiing thru it this summer, southern Colorado is a tinderbox of dead, beetle killed trees. If I were hiking the CDT this summer, I would definitely go north, at least if things continue this way. Best to get thru the state before things possibly burn up.
We’ve managed our winter decently well thus far given the snow restraints. Thank goodness for Eldora, the nordic center and uphill travel. We’ve spent a lot of time on manmade snow there this winter, only recently getting out more on natural surfaces. That’s been a nice change of pace.
There is a drainage near our home that I’ve been eyeing for a nice backcountry cross country ski “trail” for some time now. It has all the desired factors – generally north-facing, sheltered from the wind and a bit away from the main travel routes. The Little Raven and CMC trails are fantastic nordic touring options, but it would be wonderful to have a bit more. So yesterday we headed out into the forest and did some exploring.
As is always the case on exploratory days, there was a fair bit of futzing around, making wrong turns and getting stuck in deadfall. I carry a small hatchet on days like these to try to break thru and create something decently passable. Bottom line though – the route could be a good one. There were moments during the two hour ski where we thought, this could be really good. Another good sign – there were moose tracks. I find if animals use an area, it’s probably a good human route too. Numerous times on the CDT we lost the trail, followed a game path, and found a better way. Animals are not dumb. It’s an area of mysterious woods, full of creaking old trees, freshly sprouted firs and deep, deep snow. It has a feeling of good forest. I think we’ll explore it some more.