Explorer Mikael Strandberg

What does it take to live a life like yours?

I started skiing the 19th of December. I will continue until the 9th of January. I have two days during this time of no skiing, doing alpine downhill instead. I do 20 km/day average. The last two nights I haven´t been able to sleep, due to the pains in my shoulders. Overtraining and no rest is the problem. I have done -except four days on the mountain- the same loop over and over again. To mentally prepare better for the void of the Greenland Icecap. I get up early every morning and do yoga and extra work on my calves, back and feet. I follow my diet strict. And I have done this most of the last two years. This is what it takes to be able to live this life.

I often get questions on this topic. What does it take to live a life like yours? Or to prepare to do a crossing of the inland ice of Greenland? Or any Expedition of length?

Dedication. A choice of this lifestyle. All in. It has its price, but it is the only way to go.

It certainly isn´t easy. I have so many projects going on, I have two wonderful daughters and age is knocking at the door. But I don´t want to live another life! And can´t either!

One of the most important times during the preparations of an Expedition, is to do practice trips. Not only to get outdoors, but check if your equipment works and is the right one. If you are a team, get together and see if you do work together or not. Expeditions should first of all be joy, not hardships.

Those four days in the mountains together with one of the members of the Greenland team, was incredibly valuable. Incredibly important. The others could not make it due to the pandemic. For this reason, we need to spend time with each other just before we set off over the ice. Again, on a long difficult journey like this, the team dynamics are more important than anything. And then, the choice of right equipment. You cannot set off on a month-long journey in the wilderness without the right equipment. Of course, you can, but if you do there will be a lot of frustrations over kit failure. And most people today, come from a very comfortable life and if things doesn´t work, frustrations get worse. And if in a team, the person with the poor equipment will cause a lot of frustrations, delays and problems for the other team members. Of course, things go wrong all the time, this is part of Expedition life, but if you have prepared as good as you can, it will be less of an issue.

The circumstances during our 4 days in Grövelsjön and its mountains was a perfect set up for Greenland. Down to a -29 degrees C windchill (around 12-13 otherwise), occasional snowstorms up to gusts of 18-19 m/s, little snow, only a few hours of daylight, making everything more stressful, dominated by condensation and I came back with a long list av must-to do´s!

It was a wonderful time out there! Loved it!

As a whole my equipment is really good. The tent, the stove, the sleeping bag, the sled, the skis, the clothes. But here´s the list of things which has to be sorted out!

The list!

  1. Think of a better piss solution.
  2. Down socks absolutely
  3. Teeth maintenance is really important!
  4. Protein, vitamin in day packs needed.
  5. Skin ointment/cream for feet and hands.
  6. Cord on all zipper holders
  7. Small soups as a quick drink throughout the day.
  8. Larger thermos. Or two of them.
  9. Sleeping pills
  10. Sewing needle, strong thread
  11. Rechargeable batteries?
  12. Storm match and jukka stick
  13. New shell garments
  14. New facemask
  15. Shovel with longer shaft, important
  16. All clothes in waterproof bags. Everything sorted.
  17. Review the current selection and vbls
  18. All technical items in waterproof bags
  19. Earplugs
  20. Foam and gorilla tape solution, iceaxe
  21. The ice ax also needs a leash, made of thin rope
  22. Bring dental products such as small brushes, oral hygiene is very important
  23. Find a better solution for the kitchen. Some type of night storage.
  24. Take a crevasse rescue course with Mikael Blixt and Go Climb.
  25. Before departure, read aloud the hypothermia carefully, download info
  26. Add a third tire in training from now on.
  27. Extra lower back training at gym! And the same for shoulders!
  28. Go through the food carefully, carefully BUTTER, extra soups as a drink instead of tea / coffee, how do I get BREAD (?), Nuts and dried fruit, protein bars. Spices extremely important! Seeds, nuts. Protein is available in portion bags!
  29. Communicate with the girls often! Tell them how important this is!
  30. Bring an extra hat.
  31. 2 numbers bigger for surgical gloves on top of the thinnest gloves.
  32. Plastic bags inside the camp boots/downboots.
  33. The brush inside the tent, good one, clean everything carefully.
  34. Insulated thermal cup with a lid.
  35. Two smaller pots, instead of one big one.
  36. Lightweight spoon not metal
  37. A lightweight bowl to pick up snow with.
  38. What ice screws do I have? It seems it is better with the ones you can hammer down.
  39. Bring Nalgene bottles for storing daily ration.
  40. Toilet paper, how many rolls? They´re use for cleaning inside tent too.
  41. Rethink the sled organizing.
  42. A specific bag of hygiene things.
  43.                                                   Do we need more than 2 solar panels?
  44. Extra fat is needed. A is 2-3 kg extra kg:s before setting off.

I came back with tooth ache. The constant warm and cold drinking in cold weather did it. Good it happened now.

Over the cause of this time of skiing on track or in the wilderness, 16 days so far, even though I have eaten really good food, I have lost 4 kg:s!!! I am lighter than I have been for many years, 68 kg! In Siberia, when starting I weighed 84…..

I hope this list can be of any help to those of you who consider a lifestyle like this!

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