Taking back their World Record: Interview with Greenland speed ski team

We consider the record ‘ours’, and when someone else took it last year, we wanted it back, stated Ivar Tollefsen, Trond Hilde and Robert Caspersen – updated with hours skied and slept; a last day of 27h skiing

(Correne Coetzer, Edited June 29, 2016 to reflect hours skied and slept)

June 2016, a new Greenland ski World Record across the Ice Cap: 6 days 22 hours 20 minutes over 560 km (sledge-hauling in a straight line; the team had to do 50-60km meltwater detour.)

Late August, early September 2002, three Norwegians, Trond Hilde, Ivar Tollefsen and Odd Harald Hauge, set a speed ski World Record across the classic 560km Horizontal route across the Greenland Ice Cap. They did the crossing East to West in 8 days, 9 hours 30 minutes. This record was untouchable for 13 years, until last year when three 27-year-old Norwegians improved on it; West-East in 7 days, 10 hours and 20 minutes.

This month, no other than Trond Hilde and Ivar Tollefsen, now both 55-years-old, returned to Greenland. The reason for this comeback? Ivar Tollefsen explained to Explorersweb/Pythom: “We consider the record ‘ours’, and when someone else took it last year, we wanted it back.” The veterans didn’t waste time, “This was our first opportunity after we lost the record last year.”

They teamed up with Robert Caspersen (turning 45) as a third member. Ivar explained why, “I have spent more time with Robert on expeditions (Ulvetanna 2006 and 2011) and private the last years, therefore Robert. And he is one of the most experienced and strongest expedition skiers around – a huge asset to our expedition.”

All these Greenland World Record ski expeditions were done unassisted (no resupplies) and unsupported (no kites/dogs). Trond, Ivar and Robert pulled 2 sledges weighing approximately 27 kilos each.

Their start point was at the Glacier next to Isortoq and their end point on solid ground approx. 1 km to the North West of Point 660. Near the end, several occasions, they thought they had to give up. Explorersweb/Pythom find out more from the team.

Exweb/Pythom: Apart from being Norwegian and always being active, how did your preparation look like?

u2028Ivar Tollefsen: Nothing.

Exweb/Pythom: What was your game plan on the ice?

Ivar: Keep up the speed, long periods of skiing, short breaks.

How long? 14, 14,5, 15, 19,5, 33 and 27 hours.

How much sleep did you get? 6, 5, 5, 4,5 and 3 hours.

What did you learn from 2002 that you have done differently now?

Ivar: Using skis under the sledges.

Three top tips from Lars Ebbesen and others?

Ivar: Lars didn’t really give us any tips – but his enthusiastic support could have lifted us through any headwind at great speed – for that I will always be grateful and impressed. Thanks Lars.

What have you learned from the three ‘boys’ last year that you knew you could improve?

Ivar: Nothing really. We just needed to be a little bit faster in ski speed.

In 2011 two Brits, Alex Hibbert and Andrew Wilkinson, tried to break your 2002 record, but were unsuccessful. They were two people. You were three in 2002 and now. Last year’s record team was three. Would you say a team of three has a better chance than a team of two?

Ivar: The number of team members makes a marginal difference. In theory, the more members, the better, since you can swop breaking trail. But in real life, there will always be difficult to have a large team act exactly the same way all the time.

Two is a little too few for trail-breaking, three is good, four is also good.


Ivar answered:

Skis: Fischer Racing

Boots: Fischer Racing


Robert Caspersen answered:

Skins: Twin skins (fixed)

Clothes: Norwegian manufacturer Norrøna. Their lightest gear that still gives enough protection against the elements.

Tent: Helsport fjellcamp. The tent held the whole trip, but it was really too light. We were afraid it would break in the winds a few times, and spent considerable time and energy building snow-walls to protect the skinny construction… Next time we double the weight on the tent…

Sleeping bags: Western Mountaineering – warm and light. Down.

Weather and Ice conditions:

Ivar: A good combination of headwind and tailwind. A lot of water on the West side.

Robert: We had to circumnavigate endless rivers and lakes and wet areas on the West coast to finally reach solid ground. At several occasions, we thought we had to give up – being caught in this endless maze… We ended up doing a detour of close to 50-60km, to find the sources of the rivers we could not cross and walk around them…

Team: Ivar Tollefsen, Trond Hilde, Robert Caspersen

Start time: 01:25 Tuesday 14.06.2016 local time

Finish time: 23:45 Monday 20.06.2016 local time

In 1991, the crossing originally took over a month, which was improved to 13 days, 4 years later. The time was further improved in 2002, to 8d 9h 30m (East-West) when all improvements stopped. The Greenland dream-mile seemed untouchable – until last year, and again, this year.

On May 13th, 2015, the 27-year-old ‘boys of Snåsa’, Ronny Andre Kjenstad, Vegard Jørstad and Ole Christian Kjenstad blazed across the Greenland Ice Cap, covering around 350 miles (560 km) in 7 days, 10 hours and 20 minutes, the Record that is taken back this year.


Day 5, skiing 150 km in 34 hours… Western Icefall tracking, daily notes and facts explaining this enormous effort and impressive mental approach


Greenland Ski World Record – Breaking News

Norwegians set new Greenland speed ski record (2015)

Greenland “Dream-Mile” broken: Lars Ebbesen talks

Exweb interview with Norwegian World Record skiers on Greenland: Strategy, experience and weight-cutting


Definitions and Rules of Adventure at AdventureStats.com

Rune Gjeldnes recalls sea-land-air Greenland 1996


Greenland Windsled update

Cycling: Kate Leeming on Greenland

Ice Horizons 2016 successful Greenland crossing

Finnish ski team crossed Greenland Ice Cap

Greenland Skiing Round Up

Greenland 2016 update: Teams on the Ice Cap – Updated

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