What motivated you to try these extreme adventures?
Curiosity! For example, about how I would cope in extreme situations. That was my primary motivation, at least. When you get more self-assured, then you start to explore other aspects of yourself.
When I went on my first Greenland crossing in 1996, I thought that I would be extremely creative. I thought that I would come back with lots of great ideas, and my head would be boiling with stuff. Instead I kind of turned off my brain – it started to be more empty. I started thinking about songs, and in the end I was playing music in my head. Rock albums. I was absolutely not thinking about anything. That expedition took 24 days. I had undertaken two week expeditions in Iceland before, but the big obstacle in my mind was crossing Greenland.
What type of person goes on an expedition?
There’s no one type. You needs curiosity and will. An ability to not give up so easily. Endurance.
How should you train for such a trip?
It’s going to be physically demanding. You must be technically ready but perhaps even more important psychologically prepared – you must have a certain mindset to go on an expedition. It’s going to be a huge job for ‘nothing’.
For crossing the Greenland Ice Sheet, it’s good to have tried out camping in snow for example, before you go on an expedition. It is necessary to have tried out outdoor gear, especially shoes.
The most important thing is to be generally fit. I had a girl who had trained for an expedition just by being at the gym. She was really strong and fit. Motivated. She had limited prior experience. She only had one week in East Greenland to get used to camping and skiing. One short week in Norway for cross country skiing, and she did fine. The most important thing was that she was happy.
She is an example of what can be done when you don’t have possibility to go into the mountains to train. She did not overestimate herself. The most dangerous people to get on a trip are ones who think they are ready for everything.
What type of expeditions do you offer?
At Icelandic Mountain Guides, we offer all sorts of adventures, including crossings over the Greenland Ice Sheet and Antarctica. We also offer shorter expeditions in Iceland. We will often ask individuals to join us in Iceland or climb Gunnbjorn Fjeld mountain in Greenland first so that we get to know them, before allowing them to join us on longer trips. It is important that we know who we are crossing with, and that we trust that they can handle it.
I started Tasermiut South Greenland Expeditions in 1997 because I wanted others to experience incredible things too. We offer one- and two-week kayak tours, and I personally guided the expeditions the first four years. For many people, it will be a challenge and an eye opener. Even though you will be protected in some ways (you will be in a small group of maximum 12 people with 2 guides) you will get a glimpse of what is going on in the world of expeditions.
You will still have to manage your equipment and your own things, and you will have to camp. It’s a huge personal experience, and you might struggle. You might doubt why you are doing this, and your own personal capacity, but this pressure is part of defining your adventure.
Want to cross the Greenland ice sheet on a windsled or kayak around Greenland? Explore visitgreenland.com and read more about other expeditions!