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.
Antarctica season is always a special time of the year for Polar aficionados, like me. In a span of not even three months, dozens of explorers are out there working towards the goals they trained and planned for – often for many years. The 2018/19 season gave us an exciting struggle for the – supposedly – last real first out there, with Louis Rudd and Colin O’Brady both going for an unsupported and completely human powered traverse. In comparison to the media buzz created especially by O’Brady last year, this season may appear kind of slow. This perception may have been reinforced by the fact that due to weather delays, a lot of this year’s explorers only got on the ice at the end of November, which means it took till well after Christmas to hear of the first arrivals at the Pole. But the 2019/20 season stands out for another reason as well: for the first time in my memory, it’s the women dominating the headlines. Here’s a list of some of the amazing women who just wrapped up their expeditions.
Early February this year, Lauren and I found ourselves on the slopes of a mountain pass leading from the Mogen tourist hut up to the Hardanger plateau. We were 46km into our 120km crossing of the Hardangervidda and were already a day ahead of our schedule, so we weren’t too worried by the slow progress. As long as we’d clear the mountain and get onto the flat plateau by the end of the day, we’d be fine. We were worried about one thing, however, and that was avalanches. It had snowed quite a bit near Mogen in the days before we arrived there, and all morning we observed worrisome signs of unstable snow conditions: creaking noises under the fresh snow and snowdrifts sliding downhill even on the moderate slopes covered by trees as soon as we stepped into them. Finally, we reached a small cluster of huts at the edge of the tree cover. We decided to take a rest and regroup. The wind had picked up by now and we were wearing our goggles and face masks to protect ourselves from the elements. While we had been able to see the top of the pass, our goal, for the entire morning, now a thick cloud cover was rolling in and soon we weren’t able to make out our path up the mountain any longer. We had to make a decision. Was it safe to go on?
As I’m writing this, Polar explorers Børge Ousland and Mike Horn are out on the Arctic ocean, struggling against the elements in what seems from the outside to be one of their hardest expeditions, yet. I am following the expedition with great interest. In a recent post, Børge explains how Mike broke off a chunk of a tooth on a frozen chocolate bar, which reminded me of my own experience with this issue and one of my favourite lifesavers.
It has been quite a while since you’ve heard from us on our blog. For the past few months, we have been working behind the scenes on our next big thing. We are going to cross Greenland without resupplies and using only human power, following the original Nansen route in 2020. You can find all the details of that expedition at nansen2020.org. Now where our Hardangervidda trip was basically just Lauren and me flying to Norway to ski for a bit, this one is going to be a proper big expedition. We are putting a team together, working with various research partners, and raising money for charity with the trip. In other words, this is going to be a lot more organising work than our Norway expedition. But how do you get something like this off the ground?
Staying warm is one of the most important things to look for when you’re out in the snow and ice. Your extremities are generally most at risk of suffering cold injuries since they are farthest away from the warm core of your body. Additionally, your hands and fingers are exposed to wind and weather almost always, which is why great gloves are one of the smartest investments you can make when planning to be out in the cold for a prolonged time. Today, I am reviewing several gloves provided to us by our partner, The Heat Company. Note that they offered some of them to us for free, but I will give my honest opinion regardless. When on an expedition, your kit is your life insurance, and I would never settle for anything I consider sub-par.