Lauren and I set out to become Polar explorers in late 2017 and we made steady progress towards our defined goal of crossing Greenland in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen. Almost exactly two years ago, we were violently thrown off track by the onset of the Covid pandemic. A lot of the things we had taken for granted and relied on for our endeavours suddenly disappeared. An endless array of cancelled courses and training trips. No reliable travel plans, no in-person meetings for scheming and planning. Thanks to Brexit, not even a convenient postal exchange between Lauren and me – which we used frequently before to exchange kit. To say all that was a hit for our motivation is putting it mildly. Fast forward through countless cancelled attempts to meet up in-person and postponed training trips or courses to today, early 2022. Where are we now as Team Fram?
Nothing much has been happening for us in the past two years in terms of advancing our Polar ambitions. However, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel: it looks like we’re finally set to go to Norway for some easy camping and skiing on Hardangervidda at the beginning of April. So it’s time to dust off and inspect our kit and to revisit a project I started two years ago, but then never actually tackled: building a better cooking tray for us. ‘Better’ in that sentence can be directly translated to ‘lighter’ since the functionality of a cooking tray is quite limited, but before I dive into the details, let’s start with what a cooking tray is and why you would want one.
Two years ago – in autumn of 2019 – I signed up for a 100km march in Vienna, that was supposed to be in April 2020, on the weekend of my birthday. As we all know, that minor thing called Covid happened in between, and thus this particular event did not. However, from this moment, the idea of walking around Vienna in one go was planted firmly in my head. Yesterday – Oct 23rd 2021 – it became a reality.
We’re slowly coming out of the pandemic-induced hibernation. Lauren and I still can’t meet because of Travel restrictions, but I can at least go on trekking trips again. If you’ve read a bit of the blog already, you know I’m a gram-counter, so for this year I thought about my cooking setup and how to make it lighter. I’ve written about my default setup before, which is the Alpkit Kraku, Mytimug 650ml and a 100g gas cartridge. So these are the specs to beat.
When we decided in February to postpone Nansen2020 to next year, things were looking good for us. We had a 10-day training expedition to Norway coming up, and we had 18 months to assemble our team again and fundraise. We were confident the unfortunate delay would be to our favour in the end. But as we all experienced soon after, life doesn’t quite stick to plans. Since COVID hit Europe in early March, we’ve been sitting and waiting for the situation to develop. We hoped that we would be able to travel again by summer, which would still allow us enough time to organise a trip for next year. Unfortunately, infection numbers are rising again in Europe, and it is becoming clear now, that COVID will likely stay with us for the coming autumn and winter and that the European nations won’t open their borders quickly again. So we were facing the question if we can actually make a Greenland crossing in 2021 under these circumstances. Sadly, our answer is “No”.
The pandemic has, unfortunately, put a dent in our Polar ambitions for this year, but the COVID situation in Austria has luckily improved enough to allow hiking and trekking trips again. As I’m gearing up for a busy hiking summer at home, I tested a new ultralight sleeping setup made for those warm summer nights to come. It is exceptionally light, weighing only 655g, but is it comfortable, too?
Since self-isolation became a thing, I’ve stumbled across quite a few articles comparing the isolation experienced on an extreme expedition to what we all have at home right now. These articles range from supposedly helpful isolation tips – like listening to music or reading a book – to the implication that we shouldn’t take this so hard, because they had it way worse, like a particular piece by Outside Magazine that triggered this blog post.
Today, we regret to announce that we will be postponing our Nansen2020 expedition for a year until 2021. We have already touched base with all our expedition partners and are grateful that all our collaborations and the expedition concept will remain in place for next year as well.
It’s a new winter season, and we’re gearing up for new adventures in the snow. Just in time, our partners at The Heat Company have sent us updated versions of their gloves. Time to see what they came up with in the past year! We’re looking at the brand-new all-in-one HEAT 3 SMART PRO and a prototype of the DURABLE LINER PRO.
200 years ago to the day, the continent of Antarctica was discovered, arguably kicking off the race to the South Pole that culminated in the golden age of Polar exploration. The expeditions of men like Peary, Nansen, Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton have inspired adventurers to this day. For them, it was all about being the first to achieve something – first to cross Greenland, first to the Poles or first to cross Antarctica. Since then, Polar exploration has become it bit more confusing. Here’s my attempt at explaining the history and what to look out for when reading about Polar – and especially Antarctic – expeditions.