Baltic Ice Crossing Report

Posted: Sep 12, 2013 11:53 am EDT


(Newsdesk) An important trade route for the early Vikings; Wikipedia says that since 1720, the Baltic Sea has frozen over entirely only 20 times. The most recent case was in early 1987, which was the most severe winter in Scandinavia since that date. On the long-term average, the Baltic Sea is ice-covered at the annual maximum for about 45% of its surface area with strong winds packing floating ice against the shores of southern Finland. 


As part of Arctic training last February polar travellers Maarten Harteveld and Philip de Roo went to the Baltic Sea for a crossing from Finland to Sweden. Here goes the debrief.


Philip’s report:


We departed the 6th of February from Amsterdam to Oulu. Over there we did the last preparations and then started on the sea-ice. With the lessons learned from the training in 2012 (lots of open leads from icebreakers) we took dry suits with us to cross the open leads. Also we had sledges from my colleague Marc Cornelissen.


At the first day we crossed a frozen lead which was created in the past by icebreakers. That evening there came a big big icebreaker along the route which we just crossed. It was really a big “building” sailing through the sea-ice. Really impressive with lots of breaking ice noise!


The next days we continued with our expedition. The temperatures were between -20C and -30C. While skiing we saw on the horizon a new boat coming our way. It went quite fast and before we knew it the ship created in front of us a new open lead. That means that we needed to swim for the first time! After testing the dry suit we came into the water, and in no time we swum to the other site which was fun to do! That evening we continued skiing and at 20:00u we made camp while it was nearly completely dark.


The upcoming days we made nice progress, and everything became more and more fun! The terrain changed from flat to pressure ridges or strokes open water. We had quite short daylight hours. At around 08:30 it became bright and at 17:30 the sun disappeared. So the schedule each day was tight.

Each day there came more and more pressure ridges. And we crossed a couple of buoys which give the fact that there will be some shipping during summer.


Nearly halfway along the route we saw a strange view on the horizon. It was like there was a “forest fire”. When we came closer there was a big big open lead in front of us. We could not see the other side of this lead. On the sea we saw big billow and “kayaking” with the sledges was impossible and too dangerous. Our only option was to go up north and see how far we could get while hoping the lead came to an end. After 1.5 day’s of skiing up north there was still no progress or opportunity to cross the lead.


Because of running out of fuel and food we needed to decide to turn back to our starting point. After 1.5 hours skiing back we heard an extremely big shot from the place we came form. Probably part of the ice broke off and drifted away. Exhausted and happy with the good decision we travelled back. The first day of course disappointed because we could not manage the trip completely. We put the tent up in the evening and had some nice drink and food. The next morning we continued back homewards. Enjoying the great view from the sea-ice while seeing icebreakers at the horizon.


After 4 days of skiing we came back in Oulu where pizza, beer and a hot Finnish sauna were waiting. A good moment to create new plans for a new expedition… :-)


CV Philip de Roo (1985)

2013 Baltic sea mission and visit Greenland whit a group.

2012: Baltic sea mission

2011: together whit Marc Cornelissen initiator from Mission Sila. (Dutch delegation whit former Prince Willem Alexander, Robbert Dijkgraaf (science) Eric Oostwegel (Royal Haskoning) and Johan v/d Gronden (WWF Netherlands) in dialog whit Greenlandic government Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist and Aqqaluk Lynge President ICC.

2010: Expedition leader and guide to ski to Mount Forel and back

2010: Expedition leader and guide from a group from DYE-2 to Kangerlussuaq

2009: Wilderniss First Responder certificated

2008: Athlete member from The North Face

2008: Notice Expedition. Crossing Greenland from South to North

2007: Notice Expedition. Crossing Greenland from East to West

2006: Assistant from Marc Cornelissen for the Ben & Jerry’s Climate Change Collega on the Greenland icecap

2004: Skied together whit Marc Cornelissen the last degree to North Pole

2000: Xpedition Cool at Antacrtica (at the age of 15 years)


CV Maarten Harteveld (1982):

2013: Baltic sea

2012 Succesfull PAWGI certified Wilderness Instructor

2012 Advance Wilderness First Aid

2011: Wilderness First Aid certificated

2010: Crossing Dovrefjell Norway in winter

2010: Crossing Hardangervidda Norway

2010: six monts tekkig Blue Lake Alberta Rocky Mountains Canada

2008: Crossing Alaska For KIKA 1500km in winter

2006: Crossing Hardangervidda Norway


"Swimming in the water with dry suit. In the beginning it was hard, but later on really fun to do!"
courtesy Philip de Roo, SOURCE
Maarten Harteveld (Right) and Philip de Roo (Left).
courtesy Philip de Roo, SOURCE
"Open water as far as we could see. No change to swim or use our sledges as kayaks. Skiing up north and hope the lead will close."
courtesy Philip de Roo, SOURCE
Open leads made by icebreakers.
courtesy Philip de Roo, SOURCE
"Over the pressure ridges making a track. The sledges we had from Marc Cornelissen are perfect! Fantastic design. Really balances and stable in difficult circumstances!"
courtesy Philip de Roo, SOURCE

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