Nansen2020 Called Off

Submitted by Thorsten on 15th September 2020

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”. 

Impacts of the pandemic

No international travel and events mean we can’t go on vital training expeditions and courses we would have needed to prepare us for a safe Greenland crossing. We also can’t meet our team in person and develop good chemistry without exposing people to unnecessary and unjustifiable risks to their health. It’s becoming increasingly clear that a COVID infection is not just a simple flu-like illness that goes away again, but can have devastating long-term effects on the whole body, which could end all Polar ambitions permanently for any of us unlucky enough to fall ill. We are not prepared to put the health of anyone on the line like this. 

The ongoing economic crisis accompanying the pandemic was another important factor for us to consider. With the added burden to businesses everywhere, it is highly unlikely we will be able to find sponsors willing to finance our expedition, even with the continued help of the UNHCR and other partners. We expect that we would have to self-fund a 2021 crossing entirely. However, the financial impact isn’t only felt by businesses, but also by us personally. With the uncertainty surrounding our own job situations, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify spending a huge amount of money on a Greenland crossing.

Time to say thanks

We have had a long time to consider this decision, and although we are sad, we are certain we made the correct call. We would like to thank everyone who believed in us and who were willing to support us with Nansen2020, especially our partners at the UNHCR, the Fram Museum, Dr Nathan Smith and Dr Krystyna Kozioł. We still stand by the humanitarian values of Nansen and will donate all money raised so far for our expedition directly to the UNHCR. 

We also want to thank our company partners at Klättermusen, The Heat Company, Firepot and protegear, who were willing to support us. We love the quality of your products and we hope we can count on your support for future projects again. 

We have learnt a lot in the 18 months of planning so far and have met fantastic people in the process. So many of you gave us valuable advice that it’s impossible to list everyone, but we especially want to thank Lars Ebbesen, Lou Rudd, Børge Ousland and Nat Taylor for helping us along the way with their wealth of experience and contacts. 

What comes next for us

Of course, this does not mean we will abandon Polar exploration. We may revive the concept of Nansen2020 in coming years, once it is safer to plan for a year again. However, we can’t make any predictions at this moment, because we don’t know how our professional and personal situations will develop. Until then, we are aiming for smaller endeavours, which we can organise on reasonably short notice. We have our eyes on another Hardanger crossing in Norway and maybe some action in Iceland next year. We’ll be sure to announce any plans on our website and social media, as usual. 

Nansen2020 Called Off


Keen hiker and ÖAV trekking and hiking guide, in love with Nansen. Owner of the most walk-averse rescue dog ever. Ice cream lover, kit junkie, runner and mad software genius.