As we come to the end of our first year as Team Fram, Thorsten and I wanted to reflect on our progress, and how far we’ve come. We’ve had some amazing experiences, met some fantastic people who’ve supported us with advice and encouragement, and grown to feel like part of a community. We feel very lucky to have got as far as we have, and are really excited about the year to come.
This year started with us trying skiing for the very first time! I’d never even seen real snow (more than the 2mm southern England usually gets) and was relieved to discover that I absolutely loved it. Also a good discovery was that Thorsten and I got on very well during our lessons in Oslo – as we’d only met once at this point that was a relief!
We’d spent some time discussing what skills would be helpful to us on an expedition, and outdoor first aid came pretty high on the list! I found a local course through Explorers Connect shortly after getting back from Oslo. Thorsten did his 4-day course later in the summer and then followed it up in November with 3 days of cold specific first aid skills.
February saw us doing our expedition training with Wild Norway and getting our first taste of expeditioning. Again, we were relieved to discover that we loved it, and I found myself grinning even while skiing into strong winds and snow. We spent our time on the way home making plans for the rest of the year, and resolved then to ski across Hardangervidda some time in 2019, followed later by Greenland, and then Antarctica.
It became obvious, as we made plans, that we’d need to make Team Fram more of a marketable idea if we were ever going to get the sponsorship and support we need for these big expeditions. So we spent some time working on a team name, and then a logo and website too. I attended the Love Her Wild weekend around this time and went to a talk on social media by the brilliant Laura Try. I set up our Twitter account then and then, and in the 8 months since, we’ve come to find a very welcoming community around exploration, heritage of polar travel, and the outdoors.
The other thing obvious at this point was that we needed to get our fitness up. In particular, I wanted a skilled personal trainer, as I kept injuring myself. So Thorsten went off to find his local gym, and I took the recommendation of the physio I was seeing about my sprained ankle and started working with Jules, who’s been really supportive and totally gets my desire to do odd activities!
One of the people we’d started to follow on Twitter was Dr Nathan Smith, who’s worked with a number of polar expeditions on the psychology of teams in these sorts of extreme environments. He launched an online course on the topic in the middle of last year which we eagerly signed up for, and learnt a lot about ourselves and what likely awaited us.
August saw us heading back to Norway for a hike. We wanted to test the logistics of getting to and from Hardangervidda, to see for ourselves the sort of landscape we were heading in to, and to test our kit and routines a little. We had a wonderful time, despite the heavy rain, and started to feel much more prepared.
In November we both attended the Explorers Connect Expedition leadership course in Bristol, which was interesting and very useful, and then returned to Norway for some more training. This trip was partly for us to practice our skiing but also to test some of our new kit, and get our routines honed. It was another fun trip, and the lessons we learnt about which bits of kit did and didn’t work will be invaluable to us in January on our expedition.
On a personal note, this has been a great year for my development. I’ve gained my Day Skipper qualification, and my Minibus MiDAS certificate. I joined the Guides as a helper and then started my leadership training, helped to run the first MY Great Escape adventure, and signed up to the Mountain Leader scheme. I’ve learnt to ride a horse, and spent a week having a Viking adventure around the coast of Denmark. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved this year!
The coming year will see us complete our first expedition together, skiing across Hardangervidda on our own. We’re planning to make it there in time for the Expedition Finse festival, a gathering of polar explorers.
As soon as that’s over, we’re gearing up for our Greenland crossing in 2020 – we have some big ideas for that which we hope to be able to announce in February or March, and will be looking for sponsorship and support then too.
Thorsten is going to be starting his Hiking and Wilderness trekking guide course in Austria, and I’ll be doing my Mountain Leader training in the UK. I’m also hoping to complete my Girlguiding Leader’s training too.
We’re very excited to complete our first big expedition together and getting started on Greenland, and we look forward to sharing it all here!
Mountain leader in training, Skipper, sometimes Viking and total coffee addict. Runner, hiker, Girlguiding leader, animal lover. British/Irish, aspirant Norwegian.