Diary

Epilogue

Home, finally. Not much movement in my head nor in my pants. Feeling numb. It is time to lie down on my sofa and start endless "Law and Order"-marathon.

I'll describe here our last days on the icecap as well as our time in Qaanaaq and on our way home.

About glacier exit we had following information: obvious route down to McCormick-fjord, straight to Bowdoin fjord or between them, Tugto-gletcher, which (according to our information) was descended by group of Norwegian women 2008. During our expedition we also received information from Qaanaaq that west side of Tugto should be ok. As we wanted to try something new and possibly ski until village, we chose last option for a route down.

On 26th of June we left our camp with kites towards left side of Tugto and nunatak, which is shown at map with height 840m. Wind was quite strong for downhill kiting (8 m/s N), so we were quite soon at the point where kiting must be stopped due to large crevasse area. From this point we were able to see the last part of Tugto and our first route point (nunatak 840). Between us and this nunatak was valley filled with water and west side of it was filled with big crevasses. East side was good, so we decided we'll go with that.

Start of skiing was immediately quite hair-raising. There were crevasses every 50 meters, most of them many meters wide. I was quite worried when Toni navigated over them, and it wasn't too much fun for me either, as I weight more than Toni. Most of crevasses were still covered by snow, which did not make our descending any easier. One cannot know for sure what will be found under the snow. The crevasse area continued next 2 hours, and immediately after it we were in the middle of endless meltwater stream area. Even though we went downhills, it was really slow and exhausting, 700-800 meters an hour. At 5 am we reached first rocks as we touched moraine ridge 700 meters above sea level, which seemed good to continue along. Eventually we reached point where proceeding was impossible to south, east or west.

So we had driven ourselves to kind of bandit sector and had only bad choices ahead of us. 9 AM of 27 of June we put up the tent and considered our options. After few hours of hard thinking we figured, that we have two realistic paths to choose from: either to ascend glacier again and head towards McCormick-fjord or helicopter pickup. For first option, we heard from our contact that Eric McNair and Stephan Copeland had said last 20 kilometers were more challenging than first 2000 kilometers, so we assumed they have had difficulties with crevasses. For us, it would have meant 30-40 km crevasse area to cross. We didn't want to risk again, so it was an easy choice. Pickup was scheduled to be 16.05 on 28.6, but around 13.00 Toni heard the chopper sound and we assumed it is for us (at that area, helicopters are not that common :). Of course everything was unpacked, but we rushed like hell and were able to get everything inside helicopter. Helicopter personnel were not seemed to be in such a hurry as us, so it must have been our parachute ranger training that caused this.

During our flight we were able to see that all Tugto seemed quite impossible for descend, full of crevasses and meltwaters. Also Qaqortoq-gletcher ascending to Piulip Nuna looked very bad. 13.31 o'clock we were back to civilization were Hans Jensen was already waiting for us. He brought us to his place for expeditions, "Hotel California", which is former elder's house!!

arriving  to civilization

Following days we took it easy. We packed our gear for cargo, did necessary shopping and took part to nightlife scene of Qaanaaq. It was even wilder compared to Narsaq. We also had possibility to have a chat with descendants of Robert Peary and Matthew Henson.

emperor of packing in his work

4th of July we flew to Ilullissat and already 5th to Kangerlussuaq. There we had one final mission: Parachute ranger club of Finland had expedition from east to west of Greenland 1999. They left memorial ice-axe for two finnish club members who died in Piteraq 1997. Toni was member of 1999 expedition and our intention was to check whether this axe still exists and if yes, what condition of it is. Also some maintenance work was expected. So we bought tickets to tourist round for icecap. This proved to be hardest part of our whole expedition. It was hot, bus was packed and late from the schedule. When we arrived to edge of icecap rest of the group headed for the glacier but we have had enough of it. 30 mins was the time given to us from group leader so we ran like cheetahs from one hill to another. Finally Toni found it. We kept silent minute, took pictures and marked GPS point for this place. Then we ran back to bus. This gave great final to our expedition!

memorial ice-axe

Big thanks to Pete Mäkelä for maintaining this site as well as for mental support for me and Toni. Great thanks to Olli Vaartimo, who made all the translations to English. We would also like to give thanks to our supporters, ISS Teollisuuspalvelut Oy, Warmpeace and Smartwool. I used my one green Smartwool shirt since day one, namely 67 days in row and it was almost as fresh as in the start. We'll maybe I wouldn't go to disco with that shirt, but almost anyway.

From my point of view, this is it. Toni might share his thoughts later on. So I'll end our diary with a little story. Thanks for all who followed and supported us. Maybe we'll go for it once more…

"At the beginning they were six. They walked in an endless desert. They walked and walked, and pain and humility were shown from their faces. Suddenly, on one day they heard a Voice. Voice asked: --Who are you? --We are we, we six, answered those six frightened. Voice decided to put the men on a test. --OK, it said, I have a price for one of you. It belongs to a man, who really earns it. After saying that Voice disappeared.

A price! Imaginations of waited fulfillment were running through their minds. -- A bucket full of champagne!, dreamed the first. -- A real hydroplane!, fancied the second. -- A share majority for a bank!, sighted the third. -- A harem!, feasted, the fourth. -- A magic stick, that gives you three wishes!, craved the fifth. -- A railway carriage filled with Keratin hair water!, said the sixth.

But now they were confused. -- Of course the price will be given to the one, who is the best of us, they thought, and I am only a ragamuffin like this. Their minds were blurred by greediness and incoming envy sealed the decision. -- I have to be something bigger and better than the others, I have to do something about it! So all of them slided to their own ways by using weak excuses.

In the darkness of the night there was a movement. -- Stop, who is coming? Shouted Voice. -- It is me, Juri Gagarin, first man at the space!, answered the first and came forward. -- It is me, Jacques Costeau, the tamer of Moby Dick!, hurried the second and came forward. -- It is me, Erwin Rommel, the fox of the desert! Shouted the third and came forward. -- It is me, Artturi Iivari Virtanen, the inventor of AIV forage!, twittered the fourth and came forward. -- It is me, the dog of Baskerville, the most famous character of world!, howled the fift and came forward. -- Dont' you know me, the great patron, the famous composer Kaj Chydenius!, demanded the sixth and came forward. -- Give me my price!, they all shouted simultaneously. The desert was filled by silence. -- You Pharisee, look at yourselves!, Voice thundered and disappeared to the emptiness.

There they stood those six and fearfully they turned to look the others and themselves. Deeply ashamed they undressed their disguises and started a new walk. They walked and walked because they knew that after this endless desert there must be a small fountain surrounded with date palms. And at the fountain there would be someone waiting for them. They walked and walked, and pain and humility were shown from their faces."

30.06.2010

We'll be leaving Qaanaaq already on Sunday and Monday we'll leave Ilulissat for Kangerlussuaq and later Copenhagen. Helsinki we arrive on Tuesday midday.

Otherwise everything is OK in our current place, "Hotel California". Cargo is sent tomorrow and local store is full of beer and food. Yesterday we had dinner at Hotel Qaanaaq, which was great (beef and potatoes), while locals ate traditional food (birds boiled as such). Thanks for messages, now we'll cook (again) something.

28.06.2010

Days on ice: 67
Location:77.28N 69.14W
Latest day distance: 0 km
Total distance: 2229 km
Height: 10 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind: 3 m/s S

koti

Qaanaaq, the most northern village on the earth. During the Monday morning June the 28th we managed to agree upon the chopper transportation and soon after the midday we were airborne and now we're back in the civilized world. The statistics of the expedition are; 67 days + 1 hour on the ice, 36 camps and 2229 kilometers distance. We've now on the airport but the phones are already working and maybe even the e-mail in the near future. First we'll go to look after lodging and after that we'll fo after a bear or two. We'll let you know about our return plans as soon as we'll get things sorted out here. GREAT FEELING !!! ALL VERY WELL WITH THE EXPEDITION.

27.06.2010

Days on ice: 66
Location:77.50N 68.25W
Latest day distance 15 km
Total distance: aprox. 2386,6 km
Height: 830 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 3 m/s S/E

koti

Toni's second midsummer on the Greenland glacier was sunny when we finally concluded our kite skiing on June 26th, 65 days after the departure from Narsaq. We still have some thirty kilometers to the edge of the glacier and some 45 kilometers to Qaanaaq. We'll have some challenges in front of us because it looks that the rest part of the glacier is full of bad crevasses. It may be that we'll need some flight support in order to get down to Qaanaaq from here. Moving back to the beginning of this week; the week started on Sunday the 20th at 4 p.m with good wind conditions. The wind speed was 5-8 m/s providing us a nice travel speed of about 25 km/h. Towards the night the wind became stronger and our speed increased to about 35 km/h and at that point we really enjoyed kiting. Toni had left one his three pulkhas behind hin and continued with only two pulkhas abreast. Toni's big ski package was put on top of Vesa's gear but it caused some problems because Vesa's high load became unstable and his pulkha fell down several times in high speed. Finally we had to finish at about half past midnight in order not to loose any gear while speeding. On Monday we waited for lighter winds and on Tuesday we struggled to do about 100 kilometers in light wind. On Wednesday the wind conditions were better and we set our record of 50 kilometers in 1,5 hours. As a whole on Wednesday we did 175 kilometers. By that time we started to approach the Qaanaaq area and after the 77th latitude the terrain turned into a fairyland. On a velvet-like snow we experienced the greatest kiting moments of the entire expedition. The last full kiting day started in the night between Thursday June the 24th and Friday June the 25th at 2 a.m. We were speeding further north and when we reached the 78th latitude we turned west. On Friday morning we saw the first rim mountains and the feeling was great. Finally something else than just snow and ice. The wind started to die out in the evening and after 16 hours and 220 kilometers of kiting we were about 30 kilometers from the edge of the glacier. During the night between Saturday and Sunday we still continued another 4 kilometers until melt waters and bad crevasses stopped our progress. It looked that we were totally blocked from every direction. We started to check chopper prices in order to get safely down from here but things will get clear only on Monday. All well with the expedition

23.06.2010

Days on ice: 62
Location:76.27N 54.25W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1806,6 km
Height: 2049 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 3 m/s S/E

Sunday 190 km + tuesday 100 km.

19.06.2010

Days on ice: 58
Location:74.17N 48.40W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1516,6 km
Height: 2468 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-8 m/s S/E

We were able to start to move again on Saturday afternoon June 12th after a couple of days of strong winds. The weather was very unstable throughout the last week and only occasionally, when the wind was lighter and the visibility better, we've were able to advance in our trek. Anyhow, during the night between Saturday and Sunday we made our distance record and advanced in all 207 kilometers. As a whole we were on the move for 11 hours. The ground was soft and full of big sastrugs ( snow dunes ) which made our ride very bumpy. Visibility was every now and then very weak, just about 100 meters, which made it very difficult to see the surface of the snow. All told the ride was very challenging. On Monday morning the wind was great and visibility good and we really enjoyed our kite skiing at that point. And again on Tuesday and Wednesday we had to wait for better weather conditions and we were able to continue our trek only on Thursday morning. However, even on Thursday morning the weather was somewhat questionable. In the morning we measured a wind speed of 7-8 m/s but when we got moving the wind speed was already 9-11 m/s. And the following hours were tough fight due to stronger and stronger wind. Our average skiing speed was 35 kilometers per hour. We rode in three legs 2*2 hours and then in addition another one hour leg. We finished the day's work at 6 p.m when wind got too strong with wind speed of 13-15 m/s. The storm arrived simultaneously with thick bank of clouds that had followed us the whole day. We've used during the past days solely our Ozone kites and the Parawing kites have waited in the pulkhas for better days to come. The storm that started continued throughout Friday until Saturday morning. Now on Saturday afternoon, June 19th, the weather seems to be improving and we're planning to continue our trek again. Our tent has already suffered somewhat from the tough circumstances and the mileage starts to be visible in our other gear, too. The worst bodily injury so far relates to Vesa's upper back, which has forced us even to halt our skiing every now and then. We've now been on ice for two months and it just starts to appear. All well with the expedition.

16.06.2010

Days on ice: 55
Location:72.46N 46.50W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1336,6 km
Height: 2658 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-8 m/s N

Mon 80 km. Tue no wind. Wen wind from north. Heading straight to the Qaanaaq. Too slow.

13.06.2010

Days on ice: 53
Location:72.05N 46.06W
Latest day distance 207 km
Total distance: 1256,6 km
Height: 2615 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 8-10 m/s S cloudy and snowshowers

11 hours ride. :-)

11.06.2010

Days on ice: 51
Location:70.15N 44.29W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1049,6 km
Height: 2319 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 10-14 m/s S Whiteout and snowfall

odotus

We've now finally made the hard decision to turn from here directly towards Qaanaaq. Under the current weather circumstances it will be impossible to go there via Kaffeklubben as originally planned. The distance from our current spot to Qaanaaq is about 1300 kilometres and even that will be a tough challenge. We've been postponing the decision to change the travel plan already during the last two weeks and now when the decision has finally been made, it's a relief. We've been here now for 50 days and nights waiting patiently for better and unaware of the future. The weather conditions have not helped us but at the same time we have to say that our experience to handle the kites was inadequate. We fully admit our handicap in this respect and hope that the next expeditions will learn from our experiences. The expedition has, however, been in many ways very rewarding and we've learned a lot. On the other hand, our trip is still only halfway, so it's not time for farewells yet. We've considered various options concerning the rest part of our trek. One option would have been to go all the way to Kap Morris or Kaffeklubben with our kites and take then a flight back to Qaanaaq from there. It would, however, been very difficult to organize at this point from here and the costs would have been excessive as well. Thereby we're now decided to head towards Qaanaaq as mentioned above. Another problem if we would have decided to head towards the north-east corner of Greenland had been the current weather. Greenland seems to be melting around us faster than we can make progress and water is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. This has also been evidenced by the local authorities in Greenland who have closed the normal route to cross Greenland because of the flood water streams. No expedition has been allowed to start their trek across Greenland any more. Even we received a call from the authorities a couple of days back to check our location and status. We were at that point already a little bit higher up north from the normal east-west basic cross route and therefore we were allowed to continue our trek. We've now skied the whole week in soft snow up to our calf-length. My Ultima Thule HIT pulkha has now felt like an anchor in soft snow because of its narrow bottom while Toni's Paris pulkhas with their flat bottom spread out their weight on snow a lot more evenly. Last week we had to make a turn to west from our route. This was caused by the magnificent ice heaps of the Ilulissat glacier which covered an area hundreds of kilometers east from the glacier itself. Thereafter we saw fjeld like sceneries west from us during a couple of days on our way north. While waiting today for better wind conditions we've had an opportunity to listen here in the middle of Greenland to BBC and its broadcasting from World Cup in South Africa. We also want to use the opportunity and send our warmest thanks to all who have sent messages and greetings to us during the past weeks. We are of course very disappointed and even pissed off not being able to finish what we came here to do. But new exiting plans are already starting to take shape in our minds. And we'll definitely be back to Arctic, too. Now we have, however, lifted our forefinger up and we're saying "HOME" like ET. And in order to get there we have to start moving again. All well with the expedition.

09.06.2010

Days on ice: 49
Location:70.15N 44.29W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 1049,6 km
Height: 2319 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 0-4 m/s W Cloudy and snowfall

SMS: Saturday, Sunday, Monday 30+70+102 km. Yesterday snowfall.

05.06.2010

Days on ice: 45
Location: 68.26N 44.59W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 847,6 km
Height: 2149 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-8 m/s SE

The weather has been exceptionally warm during the past few days. On Saturday, May the 29th, the weather was again sunny but also windy. The wind made up a wall of snow a couple of meters from the ground. If the snow stayed even a short while on our skies or on our gear it immediately melted on them. The power of the sun was amazing. The bad side of it was that our gear was getting wet again. In spite of the strong wind we decided to move on and to kite ski late in the night, naturally within the limits of the weather. Our first target was the forsaken U.S research station Dye 2. After three hours and 75 kilometers we arrived there after midnight at 2.00 a.m.. Thanks to good wind conditions the last 20 kilometers took only half an hour i.e our speed was 40 km/h. We wandered around the station for a couple of hours and found a big number of stickers by various Finnish expeditions from the past years on the walls of the station. And naturally also we left our own markings there. After this it was time to camp out next to Dye 2. On Sunday afternoon we continued our kite skiing and managed to do another 127 kilometers until the wind died down. And then we had again three days, from Monday to Wednesday, with no wind at all. Waiting is piercing when you have no idea about the next days and the total outcome of our expedition but you just have to bear up it. On Thursday the June 3rd we had again better wind conditions and we managed to advance100 kilometres and further on Friday another 20 kilometres in light wind until a wet snowfall started and we had eventually to camp out for the night . The snowfall was that heavy that we had to dig our tent out of the snow several times during the evening. We still have a lot to learn in using our kites, we keep on losing time with kite lines all mixed up. Before the trip we thought that by this point of time, after almost 50 days on ice, we would have already become experts in kite skiing but we're not. Otherwise we're in high spirit and eagerly looking forward to the coming days.

04.06.2010

Days on ice: 44
Location: 68.26N 44.59W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 847,6 km
Height: 2149 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-10 m/s SE Snowstorm

SMS: Allmost whiteout. Good wind. No horizon.

02.06.2010

Days on ice: 42
Location: 67.31N 45.04W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 727,6 km
Height: 2193 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 0 m/s Sunny

SMS: 30.05 we make 200 km and again... Past three days zero m/s.

.29.05.2010

Days on ice: 38
Location: 65.49N 46.27W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 527,6 km
Height: 2228 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 2-3 m/s E

waiting

Sunday May 23rd was a stormy day with a wind speed up to 25 m/s but our tent bore the strong wind up very well. It was naturally very noisy but it brought anyhow some change to our daily program. On Monday the wind speed was 8-12 m/s and we dug ourselves out from deep snow with high expectations. After packing up the pulkhas we tried our kites but found out quickly that the kites were full of snow which had got into them through the air-holes of the kites. Unfortunately the air-holes of these modern kites are covered by a mosquito-net type of nets and it was impossible to get the snow out in the windy weather without tearing the nets. Therefore we packed up these kites and took out the Parawing kites instead. With these we were able to advance some 15 km/h. The wind, however, got stronger and we found out the handicaps of the Parawing kites; when we took them down the lines were totally mixed up and it took a really long time to clear them up again. During one of our breaks we measured a wind speed of 16 m/s. On Tuesday the wind was again too strong and we had to wait and we used the time to clean up the kites from snow. On Wednesday the weather was good even though the wind was rather mild. Anyhow we managed to advance some 76 kilometres during the day. No wind on Thursday and we skied only about 1 kilometer in the deep snow. On Friday the wind was again too strong, some 23 m/s. By now we've read all the books we had with us and we most probably have to start to reread them in order not to get too bored. One always needs some good luck in these type of expeditions and it looks that we're not going to have anyt. First two weeks with heavy rain and now another two weeks in a storm center - and only 100 kilometres more north and we would have had excellent wind conditions towards north. Some people are just lucky and some are not. Otherwise all well with the expedition.

28.05.2010

Days on ice: 37
Location: 65.49N 46.27W
Latest day distance 23,5 km
Total distance: 527,6 km
Height: 2228 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 2-4 m/s SE

SMS:Yesterday only 1 km. Today poor wind. Frustrating.

26.05.2010

Days on ice: 35
Location: 65.36N 46.28W
Latest day distance 76,6 km
Total distance: 503,1 km
Height: 2249 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 4-6 m/s E

SMS: Sunday,Monday storm. 15-25 m/s E.

22.05.2010

Days on ice: 31
Location: 64.41N 46.29W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 426,5 km
Height: 2435 m
Temperature: +3 ℃
Wind 15-20 m/s S

Wind

We're sitting in our tent waiting for the storm outside to calm down and it gives a good opportunity to write our weekly report one day earlier than normally. During the past week the weather has been better and we've had four kite days. Monday and Tuesday were practically the first decent days during our four weeks stay on the glacier when we were able to use our kites. The wind was mild during both of those days and we managed to advance some 35-40 kilometers per day. What was more important was that we finally had an opportunity to really test our kites. During both days the wind died down in the afternoon and we camped out early to wait for better weather conditions.On Wednesday the wind was stronger and we managed to do the first over 100 kilometers' day. Still on Wednesday we lost some time while trying to learn to control our pulkhas when our speed was getting faster. Our gear tended to fall off from the pulkhas and during the breaks we lost time in sorting out the mixed kite lines. But then finally on Thursday, as experienced kite skiers, our kiting was pure joy. During the first leg, about 1 hour 50 minutes, we advanced fantastic 59 kilometers. And it all continued like this until late afternoon, with our bad luck, a snow storm ended up our day. In spite of it the day's balance was close to 150 kilometers. If we only could have one full day with good wind conditions we know now that even 300 kilometers per day is possible. The storm continued on Friday with a wind speed of 10-15 m/h and with very weak visibility. Today on Saturday visibility is better but the wind speed is 15-20 m/h with flying snow. Lets' hope this storm doesn't last too long, now when we know what we can do we're eager to get back to business. The expedition also wants to congratulate Toni's long term expedition partner Mike Vermas for summitting Mount Everest on Friday. All well with the expedition.

21.05.2010

Days on ice: 30
Location: 64.41N 46.29W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 426,5 km
Height: 2435 m
Temperature: +3 ℃
Wind 10-15 m/s S

SMS:Yesterday 146 km. Today stormy weather and we are waiting in a tent again.

19.05.2010

Days on ice: 28
Location: 63.25N 47.21W
Latest day distance 124 km
Total distance: 280,5 km
Height: 2336 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 4-8 m/s S Sunny

SMS:A couple of nice kiting day behind. Kites over the Greenland ice cap. Smooth snow.

kaffeklubben

17.05.2010

Days on ice: 25
Location: 61.38N 47.01W
Latest day distance 16,4 km
Total distance: 80,5 km
Height: 1715 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 0-4m/s E Sunny

Rain continued still two days after the Mother's Day. Also Vesa's HIT Ultima Thuma pulkha had to give up and let water in with a result that some of Vesa's gear got wet,too. Finally on Wednesday morning May the 12th Greenland showed new face and the sun started shining from the fully blue sky. Unfortunately the wind conditions didn't change and we continued to face strong head wind, in average 10 m/s but every now and then even 20 m/s. So we continued to ski and haul our gear further up the glacier. By this point the slope had become somewhat flatter and we managed to pull all our gear in one go but the job was really tough. Our speed was at that point only about 2 kilometers per hour. During one day we managed to do 5-6 about 45 minutes legs and to ascend about 100-200 metres. Today, on May the 17th, after skiing the first 45 minutes leg we noticed during the first break light easterly wind. We naturally got immediately exited and set up our kites. The wind was really light, only 2-4 m/s, but we anyhow managed to advance some 6-7 kilometres per hour. Unfortunately the wind faded away after two hours when we had advanced some 14 kilometres. However, this again confirmed that our kites can be very powerful when the wind is just from the right direction. Inevitably we've started to think that it may be impossible to complete our mission, because even though we have enough food but it start to look that we'll not have enough time. It's frustrating to think about the time schedules knowing that it's not about us but about the winds and the wind direction from now on. Otherwise everything fine with the expedition and we continue to move northwards.

14.05.2010

Days on ice: 23
Location: 61.24N 46.48W
Latest day distance 8,9 km
Total distance: 53,5 km
Height: 1403 m
Temperature: +5 ℃
Wind 0-1m/s N/E

12.05.2010

Days on ice: 18
Location: 61.20N 46.48W
Latest day distance 8 km
Total distance: ? km
Height: 1213 m
Temperature: +5 ℃
Wind 10-15m/s N/W

09.05.2010

Days on ice: 18
Location: 61.16N 46.49W
Latest day distance 5,1 km
Total distance: 34,6 km
Height: 1115 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 8-12m/s N/E

Leiri

Yesterday we managed to advance another four hours before it started to rain again. We are now making better progress when the terrain has turned somewhat flatter and we're able to pull all our gear as one package. The biggest problem with the rain continues to be Toni's pulkhas that gather water when it's raining. And the rain has also caused additional damage to our gear. One part of Toni's food, roughly equaling to about one month's food supply, has got wet. This means that Toni will be on a diet for the rest part of our expedition and he will look even slimmer than what we have thought, when we'll get back to the civilized world. Now on Sunday it's raining again and the temperature is about 5 degrees centigrade. We're planning to try our kites in order to get somewhat more westwards and higher up. The winds are supposed to be better further west. Before leaving to Greenland we were told that the weather in Greenland is erratic with major changes on daily basis. Well, we've had now this rain for nine days so we've proved that urban legend to be totally untrue. Good thing is that we've now left behind us those small lakes of smelted water we still yesterday saw everywhere around us. So in any case the scenery is more wintry today. Because the plain porridge starts to loose its taste after eating it every morning for three weeks, we've started to add various flavours into it. The most exotic boiling so far included spoonful of barbecue spice, which took us to a totally new level of culinary experiences. We've also remembered our mothers today and called home, not because we're getting desperate, but because it's the Mother's Day weekend in Finland. Happy Mother's Day to all mothers all over the world ! All well with the expedition in wet Greenland.

07.05.2010

Days on ice: 16
Location: 61.13N 46.50W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 29,5 km
Height: 968 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 12-20 m/s N Rain

The same camp as on May the fifth. Northerly wind 12-20 m/s and heavy rain. There starts to be open lakes of water all around us. We lost one fifth of our toilet paper when it got soaking wet. This means that part of the trip we have to use snow instead, as the real explorers do. It's boring to continue to wait for better weather. Our warmest congratulation to the Ultimathulegreenland 2010 expedition on finishing their expedition successfully. All well with the bored expedition.

05.05.2010

Days on ice: 14
Location: 61.13N 46.50W
Latest day distance 2,3 km
Total distance: 29,5 km
Height: 968 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6-10 m/s N/E Rain

We were stuck in our May First camp for four days because of heavy rain. We start to have real problems with the continuing rain. It's still o.k when we stay in the camp, because we can keep the pulkhas sheltered by the vestibule of tent. However, when moving there's a big risk of our dry food getting wet. Today, the rain finally ended and we immediately packed our pulkhas and got moving. We pull our gear in two or three batches depending on the steepness of the slope. This means that part of our gear is always under risk of getting wet if it starts to rain again. My black HIT Ultima Thule pulkha is waterproof but the other half of my gear is naturally under risk of getting wet. Toni's Paris pulkhas are half full of water all the time when it's raining because of their packing system and this is causing serious problems because the bags in the pulkhas are not fully waterproof. After three hours of overcast it started to rain dogs and cats and we had to camp out again. We continue to hope for southerly winds or at least subzero temperatures, so that the weather would at least get dry. The situation is not at all good. However, after almost loosing our minds when staying for several days in the small tent, today's short exercise was mentally very refreshing. Good thing is that we've not eaten too much while staying in the tent which means that we can continue our expedition at the end with some extra days if needed. In spite of all the hardship all well with the expedition and we continue our life in our cosy tent.

02.05.2010

Days on ice: 11
Location: 61.12N 46.50W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 27,2 km
Height: 916 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 6 m/s N Rain

Frustratingly slow progression. Since the last report one week back we?ve continued to haul our gear ever higher on the glacier and now we are at an elevation of some 900 metres. On Monday we even had an opportunity to test a bit our kites. Our first kite-experiences were, however, more bouncing than kite-skiing. Despite the teething problems, the test clearly proved the potential of the kites. With the right wind direction the kites will make a difference. Today we stopped the testing only because the wind was from east and we drifted therefore too much west. And for the rest of the week the wind was from north which didn`t help us at all. From Tuesday to Thursday we skied daily in average 5-6 kilometres northward. Snow was soft, deep and wet which made our skiing very tough. On top of everything it started to rain on Friday and because at that point we were fully exhausted we decided to have a rest day. The heavy rain continued throughout Saturday and it`s still raining today on Sunday when I`m writing this. So we`ve continued to lie in our Warmpeace sleeping bags, which are just too warm in these circumstances. So far we`ve never zipped them up yet. On the first of May we made one kind of history in Greenland by being in contact via our satellite phone with another Finnish expedition in Greenland. They are making better progression than we are. In spite of all the hardship we continue to be in a good mood. We were psyched up for slow progression in the beginning, even though we naturally hoped for something else. We just hope to see some sun and southerly winds for a change. All well with the expedition.

25.04.2010

Days on ice: 4
Location: 61.02N 46.49W
Latest day distance 3,1 km
Total distance: 5,2 km
Height: 300 m
Temperature: +0 ℃
Wind 7 m/s E

Kaffeklubben

Ruthless action. Our boat ride left us here on an unknown beach on Thursday. Soon after unloading our equipment and after the boat had left, we noticed that we were left on a wrong spot, about 500 m away from the planned place. There was nothing special about this matter, other than it was really rocky and rough between this place and the originally planned spot and we had to handcarry all our equipment to the first camp on the beach next to the edge of the glacier. Bumbling around the rocks took us about 8 hours. The last hours of this time were more effective once we figured out that the HIT Ultima Thule pulkha floats and we could swim our equipment along the beach line. The next day we managed to move in all just 100 meters when transferring our camp little closer to the edge of the ice. The next day, on Saturday, we carried our equipment already alongside the glacier in several smaller bundles. During the day we climbed about 50 meters from the sea level. This proved to be a really tough job. Equipment weighs total of 400 kilos and the glacier is really steep. Because of our unsatisfying progress we have considered changing the name of the expedition from "Kaffeklubben" ( "Coffee Club" ) to "Kaffepausen" ( " Coffee Break " ). However our bodies have so far lasted well all the struggling. The worst distress however is on the mental side. Now we have spent two days on the glacier and the worst crevasses are already behind. The landscape is getting flatter and it would gradually even be possible to try our kites, if the winds were good. We tried the parawing kites today, but the wind was too light. Already at home in Finland we had tried to figure out what the standard of this starting point would be, and it was classified as relatively easy climb. We can now say that we completely disagree. Other than that, all is well, and the humour helps us forward. We will now give location updates about twice a week and the actual update again next weekend.

22.04.2010

Days on ice: 1
Location: 61.01 N 46.44 W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

The expedition was dropped at the edge of the glacier on Thursday 12.30 p.m local time. The mission has started. We camped out nearby the place we came ashore. Our target for the coming days is to haul our gear higher up on the glasier. 99 days remaining. All well with the expedition.

Last riding

21.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

The D-Day is getting closer. Jing and Jang carry on their endless battle whether this makes any sense - like it's always the case in the major turning points of your life. The wizard of packing seems to have only Jang because he seems to be cool as a cucumber. Myself I'm on edge and cannot wind out at all. I assume it will ease up when we'll get going. Toni's pulkhas have been finally named; Kasper, Jesper and Joonatan. We've agreed now that we'll take off with the boat from the harbour at 11 a.m on Thusday and the boat trip should take about one hour. The timing is critical because you'll be able to go ashore only during the high tide where the glacier starts. During the first day we'll carry all our gear to the edge of the glacier. From there we''ll then start our climb either with our skis or our crampons on. We estimate that it'll take about one week for us to carry all the gear 1000 metres up, across the challenging crevasse area, to the ice-cap from where we can finally start the kite-skiing. So it's time to switch off the mobile phones, e-mails, faxes, face books and other beepers and start the men's work. Over the hills and far away. These pages will be updated now at longer intervals. Our target is to update at a couple of days intervals the information about our location. And every Sunday we plan to call the home base to deliver our weekly report, which will then be placed on our web page in due course. Throughout our expedition we'll follow the guideline, that can be found on Heikki Karinen's book about medical service in long term trekking under paragraph " Psychological survival "; " Encourage yourself and the others; you'll do your best and you'll survive. Find out your gear, make a plan and set the targets. Don't back down on your targets but be adaptive. Be prepared to change the plans if there is a material change in the circumstances. Keep up the humour and don't get consumed by fear. NEVER GIVE UP." All well with the expedition.

stove set

20.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

Our host Helgi is a professional organizer. He visits us daily and always brings with him what we've asked for and even what we didn't know we would need. The arms, the fuses, the net connections, the boat trips, the petrol, the tapes and even a moon rocket, if we would need, " no prolemas". The expedition warmly recommends Helgi's services to the potential Narsaq visitors. He can also furnish you with kayaks, bikes, fishing trips, lodging etc, " no problemas". Our arming consists of four torches, one distress rocket, one pen flare pistol with 20 cartridges, and Baikal Russia shotgun rented by Helgi. For the shutgun we have 25 different type of cartridges. If we're not able to scare off the teddy with this arming - then most probably it will eat us. And it was no surprise that our wizard of packing bundled all this arming into his pulkha with no effort. We've now agreed that we'll depart on Thursday the 22nd of April.

19.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

We've started now growing beard - or Toni is. Because I'm only capable of growing moustache. Toni's growth of beard would make even the most ruthless Pakistani mountain guerilla eat his heart out - I'm sure we'll scare the skit out of everyone when we'll be back. All well with the expedition

packing the tent

18.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

Helgi gave us today a sightseeing tour around the village area. We were especially delighted with the new, about 3 years old hydroelectric power plant which has replaced the old diesel fired power plant. Consequently Greenland is today one step greener as the name binds. Later we continued our packing exercise and Toni managed again to cut the space of his baggage into half. I only can eat my heart out as my pulkha has already got a nickname of Monster because of the size of the load on it . On the other hand we better leave soon because if Toni continues to increase the material density of his gear it's fully possible that we'll see a birth of a black hole in Narsaq before leaving. Tomorrow we plan to go for shopping the last items and some ammunition. All well with the expedition.

Narsaq at Night

17.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

Let me introduce to you the wizard of packing, Toni Vaartimo. What an average person can pack in one liter this wizard packs in one deciliter. He could organize a big trade fair in a small kiosk. It's incredible to watch how this dude can always find a perfectly suitable packing bag for every purpose and does his magic tricks to fit a kioskful of gear into it. I've proposed a new career to Toni either in logistics management or in training people how to pack. After Toni's training lesson an average tourist would have no problem what so ever to fit all the trash he/she has bought during the holiday trip into the suit case that was already full when starting the trip. Planning takeoff for Wednesday. All well with the expedition - except maybe some headache after yesterday's downtown visit.

Sledges

16.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

Today the expedition decided to experince the local Narsaq night life and it was found to be interesting. There was ladies night in the local pub and we found out that ladies here are very brassy and for direct action. The dancing queen of the pub started by taking a firm grip on my ears and smacked a wet kiss on my face - and only after that she asked whether I was for a dance. I was not able to say no because this lady seal-fisher had a firm grip on my ears and I prefer at least to start our trek with my ears on. The lady's most recent visit to a dentist had happened most probably some tens of years ago because she didn't have too many teeth left any more. Therefore I decided not to respond to her smacks but together with Toni we decided to back away from the wild battlefield. Our packing exercise starts to be now completed. Vesa's pulkha was named " Black widow ". Toni is still considering the name for his "three pulkhas combo", I'n sure we'll find out something. All well with the expedition.

15.04.2010

Narsaq

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

While brushing my teeth in the morning I started to hear awful cursing from outside - and when rushing out I saw that there had been a mouse in one of our cargo boxes. It seemed to have had a very energy rich diet during the trip from Finland to Greenland because it's belly size looked to be close to the size of mine. And she had also unfolded the toilet paper and the box was full of mouse shit. And because it had totally screwed up our arrangements we kindly encouraged her to commit an honourable seppuku to save her face - and while she didn't seem to be willing to follow our advice we decided to help her. And now we still have some serious shopping to do. The rest of the day we spent tuning our gear and ourselves. All well with the expedition.

14.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: Narsaq
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: +10 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

At the first destination in Narsaq. During our flight from Copenhagen to Greenland we had an opportunity to watch through the airplane window the volcanic eruption in Iceland, awesome ! Now we've taken lodging in a farmhouse, some 2 kilometers from the village centre. The owner of the farmhouse, Helgi, is an old genial farmer, who has a heart of a energetic guerilla. It took just 5 minutes to unload our our cargo from the chopper. During our packing exercise in the evening we saw the sun setting beautifully beyond the mountains from our spot on the seaside. All is well with the expedition.

13.04.2010

Days on ice: 0
Location: 00 00.00 N 00 00.00 W
Latest day distance 0 km
Total distance: 0 km
Height: 0 m
Temperature: 0 ℃
Wind 0 m/s

Quest begins. Today we travel from Helsinki to Copenhagen. One more night in hotel and tomorrow morning via Narsarsuaq to Narsaq. Planned boat trip to glacier is currently 24.4, but it can change, depends how much hassle we have with our gear. Updates will follow every now and then before start...

18.03.2010