Greenland Expeditions: One Retreats, One Evacuates, One Nears the Finish

Matthieu Tordeur glides along on a rare clear day last week. Photo: Matthieu Tordeur

Poor conditions have continued on the Greenland Ice Sheet, with storms and hurricane-force winds pinning down some teams for days. As continuing bad weather is forecast for next week, two teams have taken decisive action and changed their plans.

Norwegian guide Are Johansen and British client Preet Chandi have done a U-turn and are now retracing their steps back to the east coast. On August 13, after 17 days of travel and six days tent-bound, they decided to abort. At the time, they had two weeks of food remaining. The pair chose not to evacuate by helicopter, except in an emergency.

“It is a different trip now. It’s about survival. It’s about getting out,” said Johansen and Chandi in a recent update. Their reverse progress has been steady over the last few days, and Johansen is an experienced guide.

Dixie Dansercoer’s team continued to progress until two members decided to pull out early for “professional reasons”, whatever that means, by catching a helicopter ride to Upernavik, the nearest town. Matthieu Tordeur had the option to continue another 588km to Qaanaaq with Dansercoer, but he also decided to leave early. The four of them spent five days holed up 94km short of Upernavik in a heavily crevassed area. After one aborted pickup abecause of poor visibility, the helicopter finally reached them this morning, on the sixth day of waiting. Total mileage was 853km in 24 days.

Dansercoer and company await their escape. Photo: Matthieu Tordeur

It’s not all bad news, though. Despite the poor weather, Norwegian sisters Aase and Hanne Seeberg are now nearing their final destination of Kangerlussuaq. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they sat out 100kph winds in the tent. Since then, they have made good  progress and reached the upper icefall yesterday. They roped up, but dealing with fresh snow and whiteouts has made the going slow and picky. They are expected to reach Kang on the weekend or slightly after.

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK specialising in adventurous travel and expeditions, such as mountaineering, polar travel, and ocean crossings. Ash juggles a day job as a public health scientist with this second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, national and international outdoor and adventure magazines, and various websites. Bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

Alongside writing, Ash also spends some time undertaking his own adventures, and completed a 640 km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in 2018. His next arctic journey is a 700 km trek along the coast of Baffin Island in Canada.


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3 Comments on "Greenland Expeditions: One Retreats, One Evacuates, One Nears the Finish"

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Alex Hibbert

Kudos to Johansen and his client for retreating under their own stream and not calling in free heli-taxi.

Insurance premiums are high/impossible enough.


I agree Alex. This is “well” managed trip. We always must prepare for rescue not able to come

Jerry Kobalenko

Note that this was not an emergency rescue. The clients, two Swiss surgeons on a tight schedule, ran out of time because of the poor conditions and chartered the helicopter evac themselves.