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Greenland: Focus on beating the storm

Posted: May 13, 2015 02:37 am EDT


(Correne Coetzer / Lars Ebbesen) Today is a crucial day for Norwegian speed skiers Ronny, Vegard and Ole Christian. They have to get down the glacier to Isortoq before the storm hits. The team started to feel the cold (-30ºC), after covering 50 - 75 km per day with 85 km and 18 hours left to the finish line before the storm hits, and to finish in a record time.


The Avery team, traveling in the opposite direction, made use of the winds to kite.



Norwegian Speed Ski (East-West) 

Ronny Andre Kjenstad, Vegard Jørstad  and Ole Christian Kjenstad



The morning of May 11 was very windy and they extended their sleep. Thus the day only brought them 62km closer to their goal. Actually the weather was so good, the temperature plunged at night and not being super fresh(!), they started to get the chill and camped.


On the negative side, they still have some 135km left and the snow conditions are very rough. As Tom Avery reported, the East side it covered by Greenland sastrugi that both slow them down and is tiering. That is the main obstacle now in otherwise great Greenland days.


On the positive side, the weather will stay good for most of the day (Tuesday), the big storm will hit a few hours later and snow is not expected till Wednesday (May 13) 21:00 UTC.


This extend their working period well into Wednesday, though the wind will pick up from 00:00 UTC but not increase dramatically till 15/18UTC.


They are still hanging in there. Spirit is still surprisingly good, but now focus is more on beating the storm than the record. Though both would be quite a reward!


Yesterday the guys did 50 km. The last part, going down the glacier, is filled with crevasses. Important is that they stay safe and not take chances.



67 degrees North Greenland Challenge (West-East)

Tom Avery, Andrew Gerber, Patrick Woodhead and George Wells


The katabatic winds arrived right on cue at 11pm and they dressed in 6 layers of clothing for another night of kiting in -25°C temperatures. 


"These winds are formed by denser colder air effectively rolling downhill,” reported Tom. "They tend to be at their strongest at night when the temperature difference is more pronounced. We had been expecting them on this leg of the journey but more from an unhelpful westerly direction. Instead, they have been coming more from the North which we can use to our favour as our amazing Ozone kites allow us to kite within approx 80° of the wind direction. We each have 3 kites of different sizes - a 6m for strong winds up to approx. 28 knots, a 9m which we use most often and a 14m for light winds of around 8-10 knots." 


They covered 61km (42km in a straight line) in 7 hours of kiting. 


A particularly large impact with a Greenland sastrugi caused a leak in one of their fuel containers leading to the loss of 4 days' fuel. They've brought plenty of spare fuel, said Tom and fortunately none of their food was contaminated but his spare clothing is now drenched in pungent heptane.



Ousland teams


When Bengt Rotmo left on the West side of the Ice Cap, he led 2 small groups trough the lower icefall; his usual 5+1 ski team plus the dogsledge team. For logistic and safety reasons they started out together the first few days.


The dogsledge team met Sigri Ekran (World Long distance Dogsledge champion) on the plateau. She is resting and feeding the dogs she has taken from the East coast, riding them for the return leg. Anja, Clare, Mike, Tom, Chris and Ian have joined the dogs, according to the latest update.



The Ice Legacy team (Borge Ousland and Vincent Colliart) on Stikine Ice Field, Alaska, approached a snow field on their skis until they again had to find a way through a "paradise of crevasses,“ reported Vince. Eventually they reached a proper snowfield to progress on, even though they had to stay roped all the time.





Norwegian outfitter, Hvitserk, has a group of 9 plus two guides, Fredrik and Christian Iversen Styve, on the Ice Cap. They have started on April 20th. Yesterday they covered covered 32.5 km and expect to finish in 5 days.





Norwegian Greenland speed ski update: Day 2


Exweb interview with Tom Avery: Greenland speed record attempt


Greenland kicks off with speed record attempts (2015)


The elusive Greenland speed ski record: Three Norwegian dark horses (2012)


ExWeb interview with Bengt Rotmo, Greenland Fall vs. Spring


Finland’s Jaakko Heikka talks to ExWeb about Greenland’s horizontal ski route


Wings Over Greenland II: The Icecap Circumnavigation 2014


Greenland ICE expedition completed circumnavigation


Greenland ski wrap-up: New kite world record


Greenland climbing: Christian Eide and team on Gunnbjørn Fjeld





Weather4Expeditions (Mark de Keyser)


Interactive maps at Windyty


and Earth Null School 




Norwegian Expedition sites



SPOT tracker


Coast-to-coast kites (Avery expedition)



Amputee crossing






Ousland Polar Exploration




The Ice Project (Mike and Clare)





X Baluba

Cecilie Rydberg and Lars Oven Pettersen

















Night time skiing for the Avery team. "We each have 3 kites of different sizes - a 6m for strong winds up to approx. 28 knots, a 9m which we use most often and a 14m for light winds of around 8-10 knots."
courtesy Tom Avery , SOURCE
Tom Avery and his team started from the East at Isortoq, where the Norwegians are speeding to; to beat the record, and most of all, the vicious wind. Click to expand to see glacier route on the right.
courtesy Tom Avery / 67 degrees North Greenland Challenge, SOURCE
The Ice Legacy team (Borge Ousland and Vincent Colliart) on Stikine Ice Field, Alaska. Click to enlarge to see glacier position.
courtesy Ousland Polar Exploration, SOURCE