Veteran Polar Skier Evacuated with Serious Concussion in Greenland

Swedish polar explorer Mikael Strandberg sustained a serious concussion after taking a bad fall on the Greenland Ice Cap on May 4.

Strandberg’s trip cut (extremely) short

On May 5, one of Strandberg’s four teammates called a search-and-rescue helicopter to the glacier. They had just begun their expedition and were not far from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland’s main airport.

Medics found the 60-year-old responsive but unwell and promptly airlifted him to a hospital in the small city of Nuuk, some two hours away.

Although his CT scan results were clear, the medical team will monitor his brain for any swelling until his condition improves.

“I will not be fully functioning for weeks. I have a severe concussion,” he wrote. “I am really dizzy and nauseous and have headaches. It is really difficult to do anything, even write this. I sleep on my back. I pretty much sleep the entire day.”

It is not clear how the accident occurred, although in a video post on May 2, Strandberg had mentioned struggling with a “bad muscle”.

strandberg expedition 2022 greenland ice cap

Photo: Mikael Strandberg

 

Greenland expedition continues

Led by Strandberg, the skiers were just two days into their 560km west-east crossing of the Ice Cap at the time of his spill. His partners James Ketchell, Peter Wilson, Milka Raulin, and Mikael Mattsson are determined to stay the course.

A recent audio clip from Ketchell indicated that conditions had been wet and “very, very difficult.” They had managed to advance just six kilometres in two days. The forecast looked much clearer in the coming days, Ketchell noted.

 

The great Fridtjof Nansen and his only slightly less famous partner Otto Sverdrup first crossed the Ice Cap in 1888 from the east. Today, it is a popular training ground for Antarctic-bound skiers.

Strandberg’s teammates are, for the most part, following the path of the 1988 Swedish expedition team.

“The Expedition is in honor of the first Swedish Expedition to Cross the Icecap unsupported,” Strandberg wrote ahead of the trip. “[The expedition leader] was my buddy Lars Wallgren, who I wish was on the trip, but preferred to stay home tend his garden.”

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.


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