Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Expedition test with Max for the Icecap

Back from 3 days in the Arctic and  on the mountain. Grövelsjön och Långfjället.

I feel tired for sure, but I also feel lots of gratitude for having had a few healthy and challengingdays of this spectacular environment. And for having had such spirited and uplifting company. This is not the first time I have company by someone going to the Greenland Icecap together with me. Almost exactly two years ago I spent four of the most sad days of my exploring life in the Arctic. The company was very, very difficult. I know that the darkness, wind, cold, hard work and living outdoors makes you tired, vulnerable and at times people say some less nice things, but this was 24/7. Honestly, I was in kind of a shock for a long time afterwards and it gave me huge worries for Greenland. And as we know, it didn´t end well for me. Luckily the four others made it over, which made me very happy.

The only reason I am mentioning this is not to complain, just mentioning I am very happy I have spent some time with someone which was completely different. Relaxed, kind, generous, a very small ego, respectful, motivated, positive, non-complaining and also very young! Max is 19, heading for a Wall Street-future and the son of one of the most altruisic person I have ever met, my very, very good friend Jeff Willner. It is such a privilige too, to travel with a human being quite untouched by the complications of life. Very inspiring indeed! Max did a great job!

Max arrived directly from New York to Oslo were I picked him up. A 3.5 hour drive from Lima. We met with the really nice older-than-me Lars Ebbesen, a polar legend and traveller who was in Varanasi pretty much the same time I was there! Lars will coordinate our journey. A great guy I hope to see much more of in the future.

Max and I spent the whole next day from early morning to late evening going through all the equipment I have assembled since the end of August. We are sponsored by the magnificient long time freind Kensington Tours and almost all the gear fitted a tall Max, but not all. Still stuff to do, for sure! But skis, sled, ski poes, the BASK jacket and the sleeping bags fitted him!

We then drove in – 26 degrees C from Lima to Grövelsjön, whipped our gear out and the Arctic Bedding and big bags from Jemtlander makes it so much easier and quicker to both get out of cars and tents!

It was getting dark at just after three, so we only had a couple of hours of skiing and finding a place to pitch the tent. I asked Max to lead and he sat off as a rocket up the firtst hill and we did the long climb in 25 minutes. Almost up, he asked me if he could stop and take his jacket off because he was sweating so hard.

We made camp about a kilometer from the base of Storvätteshågna, which we wanted to climb and test crampons, rope and more the following day. Weather was cold around -28 dergrees C, great visibility, hardly any wind. So perfect Arctic travel weather. We made a simple camp with Max doing the wall to cover the tent, whilst I made everything ready inside. And started cooking. I did the same mistake as in Namibia. I had brought diesel and had no primer for that reason. In Namibia I used liongrass to prime the stove and now in the tent, toilet paper. It worked. max thought that the food from RealMat was so good he could consider eating it at his university.

Obviously it was pitched black at 4 p.m. And we knew sunrise was 09.30 am. So yet another quick test for Max in Arctic realities, a long night in the sleeping bag waited. It has to be said, Max was also jetlegged, but fell asleep quickly and got a good nights sleep.

Next day was overcast, a bit warmer, but good visibility and very little wind, though it had been a bit windy in the night with windbursts to 12 m/s. We had been on long skins on the skis, so we started to climb easily. Max decided to go straight for what he thought was the peak and once up on the top, he see me continuing south in the valley below him and yelled and asked if he hadn´t made it to the peak. I pointed south. Still a kilometer to go.

“Are you sure?” Max asked rethorically, a question he would ask me on and of when in disbelief.

We didn´t stay long at the top, took a few photos, wind was getting stronger, the temperature with the wind chill was -30 degrees C, so we returned slowly to camp, where we arrived tired just an hour before darkness. Jetlagged and after a good workout, Max went to sleep at 3 pm.

I woke him at 7 for dinner, he ate quickly and went back to the comfy sleeping bag and slept till 02.00 a.m. The evening before, Max had done two business calls to New York, which in its setting is quite amazing. Max is an amazing young man!

When I woke at 6 a.m the next day, Max had been awake four hours. No complaining, but I figured we might as well, head out into the dark for some dark experience and retrning to the car and give Max some time to relax and rest before we the following day returned to oslo for his long tiresome flight home.

It was a bit windy, 8 m/s, snow covered the entrance, but it was the normal south westerly, warmish and snowy. My thought was to just head directly against the wind which as normal would have taken us directly back to camp, but all my scary stories about going through the ice going to the North Pole, attacking polar bears, and other horrible Arctic disasters and other unnecessary stories caused a bit of worry for a young fella who came strait from Manhattan. Now the open rivers are no deeper than the knees, but in the dark they can come across as worse. But Max asked:

“Are you sure?”

No matter what he tagged a long in the dark, no complaints and when the day slowly arrived we had made it to the top of the montain and just had a downhill to the car.

Max was happy. He said he had experienced so much thrilling stuff in a few days and was looking forward to Greenland. I was very happy having had such an unspoilt young man with me with so many ideas, opinions and stories of his young life which inspired me a lot, gave me a lot of new knowledge and made me feel a lot of hope for future generations.

Obvously we stopped in Idre on the way back to Lima and had a huge meal! Salmon, friend potatoes, fat sauces and other stuff. We stopped agin in Lima and had another huge meal, Max had ribs, sausage. mash and ginger biscuits.

All in all, a great trip and this time I really look forward a 100% to the Icecap!

Still lots of training, kit invest and so on to do. Max have returned home to Toronto and i will stay in Lima until the 6th and ski my 30-40 km a day. Hannah is coming the 30th and she wants me to take her out on the same journey as Max, which I will do. I miss my girls a lot, their with mum in Norway, but i do enjoy my time in Lima, what a wonderfully relaxed and silent place it is!

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