Crossing Svalbard Ski Expedition - North to South

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Norwegian Guide
Nordic skiing Level 5 35 days 4 - 10 participants

Overview

Note: This is a trip popular with Norwegians, so the main language on the trip is Norwegian, but the guide will speak English, so you are welcome to join as an English speaker. Specific experience is necessary to join this trip, please email us if you are interested in participating. 

Crossing Svalbard from the north to the south is undoubtedly one of the toughest skiing expeditions you can do. It's going to be heavy, but the feeling of solitude and accomplishment will be your reward. The nature in Svalbard is unique and magnificent, for 30 days we live close to nature and each other with tents as housing and skiing as a means of access.

Highlights

The areas we move into are full of Norwegian and international expedition history. Since its discovery in the 16th century, the Arctic archipelago has been favored by a number of pioneering expeditions. The crossing of Svalbard was for the first time done in the 20th century, by a Polish expedition.

Even the start of the trip can be tough. It is a 26 Scandinavian mile long scooter ride up to the northernmost point of Verlegenhuken, it is far, but it will be the last hours of sitting still for a month. We set up the days with up to 10-12 sessions of skiing, usually, it will be between 8-10 sessions before we set up camp every night. Most of the day is spent skiing, but we have a leisurely pace and take breaks along the way.

We set up the route based on the weather, and the path of least resistance is no bad way - we want to get the best out of the trip, and the route can be adjusted several times along the way. After a day of skiing, everyone helps to set up camp, dig walls and cold pits. Water melting, dinner, togetherness, reflection, and exchange of experiences will our main focus before the night takes us. If there is a need, we sit polar bear guard at night. Typically in areas where we are near the sea, this is necessary.

The expedition has a total of up to 30 nights in a tent, it is necessary we have room for enough days in case of a blizzard. We are picked up at the border of Sør-Spitsbergen National Park. It will be emotional to hear the sound of the scooters coming to pick us up after our trip from north to south in what is the world's best-preserved wilderness. This is a trip that you will never forget.

What's included

  • Tent
  • All meals as described in the day to day program
  • Experienced Guides
  • Transport within itinerary

See more of what's included under the "details" tab

Contact

Questions about the trip? Don't hesitate to contact our project leader below, or contact our office here.

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History

Svalbard consists of all islands and islets between 74 ° and 81 ° north latitude and 10 ° and 35 ° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, and this is the one we are going to ski from north to south.

Spitsbergen extends quite exactly 400 km in the north-south direction from Verlegenhuken in the north to Sørneset in the south, but our route will be about 600 km long with some detours and because we have to walk about 100 km back to the border of Sør-Spitsbergen National Park before we can be picked up.
The islands were first used as a whaling base in the 16th and 17th centuries but were eventually abandoned.
In the early 19th century, mining began after coal, which led to the establishment of several communities on the archipelago. The Svalbard Treaty of 9 February 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty, and with the Svalbard Act of 1925, the archipelago became a full part of the Kingdom of Norway. The basis for the inclusion of Svalbard in Norway was the long-standing expeditions to the archipelago led by Adolf Hoel.

Svalbard has been the starting point for a number of polar expeditions and several of our great heroes have been skiing around the archipelago. Along the coasts of Svalbard, we find several remains after scientific expeditions and exploration. In total, 35 plants have been named expedition monuments, and these are the most famous of Svalbard's cultural monuments. Especially known are the bases for the many attempts to reach the North Pole. In Virgohamna, remnants are left after Andre's attempt with a balloon in 1896 and -97. At the same site are the remains after Walter Wellman's attempt with airships in 1906, -07 and -09. In Ny-Ålesund the mooring mast stands for Amundsen Ellsworth and Nobiles airships. And in the Isfjorden, Mossel Bay, Sorgfjorden and Murchinsonfjorden, the remains are left after the Swedes' scientific expeditions on Svalbard, to name a few. (source: Polar Institute)

Difficulty

There is no reason to underestimate the physical challenge of such an expedition. It requires regular training and the ability to ski all day. The pulk you are going to pull will contain your own items + a share of the common equipment and will weigh at least 65-75 kg at the start, maybe more. It is heavy - and impossible if you are not prepared! We should all build up before the trip. You should prepare a training program that is followed upon departure. The tour requires motivation and a good mood. Everyone gets bad days, and it helps with a little push by the others. We will adjust the speed to the conditions, but the standard is that you walk about 8 efficient hours every day.

Read more about the rating on our trips here.

Preparations

We will arrange a gathering for the participants on Crossing Svalbard. The gathering will take place in the winter mountains, typically in areas such as Hardangervidda (Finse). Here we will run a similar program as we do on the actual trip on Svalbard. We will go far with skis and sledges, sleep in tents and set routines. Each participant will be considered, and we reserve the right to reject participants after that. If you are not physically or mentally strong enough, we will reject guests from joining us. During such a weekend, we give you everything we can to convey knowledge, tips, advice, and experiences. This gathering will take place in January / February 2020.

Ideally, participants have completed a longer expedition before, and we require that participants have completed skiing with a minimum duration of one week for participation in the tour. If you have a strong desire to join and do not have it 1.5 years in advance of the trip, then Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure can help to set up a program that will make you well equipped for the trip.

Accommodation

We stay in tents during the trip, 2-3 participants in each tent. It is not possible to stay in a tent on your own. The accommodation in Longyearbyen is not included, you can choose yourself where to stay. 

What to bring?

Have a look at the full equipment list by clicking "Equipment list" in the menu above.

We require that you pack a duffel bag to have on the pulk. Pack everything inside your bag in waterproof bags. 

Insurance

We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your trip. Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure is not responsible for any trip delays, injury, illness, loss of belongings, family emergencies, natural events or other unforeseen issues that may hinder your ability to complete a trip with us. Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure is an adventure holiday company, and with an active holiday, there is always a risk of something as simple as a twisted ankle to keep you from your vacation. With trip insurance, your flights, hotels and travel costs can be covered if an unforeseen emergency hinders you from joining our tour, as well as coverage to fly home if necessary. By purchasing travel insurance ahead of time, you can protect your trip and yourself from issues that prevent you from traveling, and rest easy to enjoy your vacation.

Safety

Safety is always the number one consideration on a trip with Norrøna Hvitserk Adventure. If there is an emergency on tour with us, help will be able to reach you relatively quickly. We have a 24-hour emergency hotline within our office and the guide will always have the ability to contact help. Norway has excellent search and rescue operations throughout the country with evacuations available via helicopter or red cross emergency teams. 

Our guides have first aid training and have a selection of medicines and first aid equipment for the necessary treatment in the mountains. Hvitserk also has a partnership with Turlegen.no (Trip Doctor) who can be contacted if needed for medical advice.

If you are on prescribed medication, have known allergies or similar, you must always bring your personal medication.

Hvitserk plans the trip days based on the weather, conditions and the group. Our focus is to take care of each other and work together in one team. The guide will have the ability to make safety decisions for the group, although the decision-making process will be transparent and involve guests in the process. 

We plan our trips so that we do not expose ourselves to unwanted risk. On this tour we will always be close to each other, and if an unforeseen situation occurs - the guide will be present quickly to handle it.

Languages

This is a trip popular with Norwegians, so the main language on the trip is Norwegian, but the guide will speak English, so you are welcome to join as an English speaker.

Changes may occur

We reserve the right to make changes to the program, and the price. The day to day program is indicative, and changes may occur. Please have a look at our terms and conditions

Price includes

  • Snowmobile transport Longyearbyen - Verlegenhuken
  • Snowmobile transport Sør-Spitsbergen Nasjonalpark - Longyearbyen
  • Experienced guides
  • Transport to and from Svalbard Airport - Longyearbyen
  • Necessary safety equipment
  • Communal equipment like pulk, tent, primus, navigation and glacier equipment 
  • All meals and drinks on the trip. The source of food will primarily be dry-tech based. 
  • Search & Rescue (SAR) insurance
  • Mandatory training gathering (transport not included) 

Price does not include

  • Flights to/from Longyearbyen (Book early!)
  • Personal equipment
  • Meals, drinks and accommodation in Longyearbyen
  • Personal insurance (travel insurance for example)

day

1

Arrival Longyearbyen

Meals D

We meet at the Fangstmannshotellet after everyone has arrived to go through the schedule for tomorrow's packing. We take a round of reviewing the equipment of the individual and consider whether something must be purchased for the next day. The planned route is ready, but we take a look to prepare for the adventure that awaits in the next few days. In the evening we have dinner toegther to mark that we are embarking on the adventure.

day

2

Packing and last preparations

Meals LD

We meet after breakfast to make the final preparations. Food must be packed, pulks prepared and the last purchases made. This is the last night in a while sleeping in a normal bed, so enjoy it while you can!

day

3

Longyearbyen - Verlegenhuken

Meals LD

Snowmobiles will pick us up for a 26-mile stretch of transport to the northernmost point of Spitsbergen. This is your last chance to sit still for many days, so enjoy the ride! We decide where to start the expedition based on the weather. 

It will be a long and tiring day and we will be happy when we can finally crawl into the tent and down into the bag for the last night before we put on our skis and turn our nose to the south.

day

4

Towards Sydnest

Meals BLD

Excitedly we crawl out of the bag and get the oatmeal in before the skis come on and we test how heavy the sled really is. We are alone in the wilderness and from here and for the next 30 days our little team will work together to get us all the way to the border of South Spitsbergen National Park. The expedition ahead of us is both daunting and alluring, none of us coming home from this trip without Svalbard's mighty nature leaving traces in us. The ups and downs we have to share with each other, we have few opportunities for communication with the outside world before we are back in Longyearbyen. The satellite communication we use is used to obtain weather forecasts and send diaries to those at home.

day

5-32

Wake-up, eat, pull the sled, sleep, repeat

Meals BLD

These are the four things we should do for a total of up to 30 days and nights. The expedition life is characterized by routines and the weather is the boss of how our days are. As the days go by, life at home feels far away, it is wonderful to live a simple life. No worries about what to wear today or what to remember to buy at the store. You have what you need for and the next month's meals are packed in your sled. We work together as a team to reach the goal, switching to navigating and plowing if needed. One day there is a surplus to help someone in the team with weight from the sled and another day you need help yourself. On such a long trip as this, we all have ups and downs.

The landscape in which we move in is constantly changing, we cross huge glaciers where everything is flat, we fight our way up to long hills, maybe we move down on the sea ice unless the ice conditions require us to walk around. In the south, we meet a fairyland of sharp peaks and valleys, and you are lucky to experience this remote but beautiful landscape. At Svalbard everything is a little further away and a little bigger than it looks at first glance, but also infinitely beautiful. We move at a time of year when it is mostly light all day, giving us extra energy to ski on even though the days are long and sometimes tiring.

Although it is bright for most of the time, we may not see the sun all day, the weather is moody and sometimes it is so white of fog that we do not even see our skis, then it is important to stick together and share in the navigation job. Navigating in a whiteout is exhausting. On other days, it may be the wind that presents us with a challenge and we must be prepared that we may need a rest or two if the wind is too strong to go outside the tent. The weather, however, helps to color our experience and it is the contrasts that make this trip an exciting adventure. With the knowledge that fine weather doesn't last forever, we always appreciate the days when the sun is high on a blue sky and we can have lunch without mittens.

The polar bear is the king of the archipelago and when we stay out for so many days there is a great chance that we can meet on the teddy bear. It is a powerful experience to meet polar bears, but preferably we want to see it before it sees us. We carry weapons with us throughout the trip and in areas where there is a likelihood of meeting bears, we sit polar bear guard through the night, we establish guarding arrangements and switch to being alert. Everyone will be trained in the use of a signal gun to scare the bear if needed. We all take precautions to avoid a teddy bear meeting, but in case our roads cross, we must be prepared.

day

33-34

Back to civilization

Meals BLD

After reaching Sydneset on Spitsbergen and following our own tracks back to the border of Syd Spitsbergen National Park, we can begin to tip our ears to identify the sound of snowmobiles that will pick us up and drive us back to Longyearbyen. Here you will find amenities such as showers, beds, clean clothes, foods that require more than just a spoon to eat and not least the possibility of contact with the outside world. In such a long time it is difficult to know exactly which day we are in for pick-up, it can be an extra day or two in Longyearbyen if we have had good conditions along the way. Depending on the time of day and what day we return to Longyearbyen, we gather for a joint dinner and raise the glasses to a bowl for the trip.

day

35

Home again

After a leisurely morning with a good breakfast, time for your farewell and return home is now waiting for your everyday life. The expedition is over, but the memories of Svalbard are in forever. Maybe you have a dream of a new, long ski expedition?

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Equipment List

Take a good look at this list, and make sure you bring everything you need. We encourage you to use what you have for this trip and purchase items if you're missing something important on the list below. 

Go through the equipment list carefully. It is intended as a guideline so that we have what we need for the trip, and at the same time, we must think about the weight. It is also not intended that you should buy a lot of new equipment, you can probably use a lot of what you have before. Despite Svalbard's northern location, the archipelago has a relatively mild climate compared to areas of the same latitude. In winter, the average temperature in Longyearbyen is -14 ° C. However, it is not uncommon for winter periods to have longer periods of temperatures between -20 and -35 degrees. If the wind is, in addition, the effective temperature is very low. But we also experience every winter that we get low pressure from the southwest that can give days of heat degrees and rain. The weather in Svalbard can change very quickly and the local variations can be great.

The periods of polar night and midnight sun vary depending on the latitude one is on. Longyearbyen has the midnight sun from April 19 to August 23, while in the period from late October to mid-February the sun is never over the horizon. The darkness lasts from mid-November to the end of January.

Layering is extremely important in a variable climate like Norway. This list will guide you through the essentials. Remember the Norwegian saying "There is no bad weather, only bad gear", and prepare appropriately for any weather. You can read about the weather where you're traveling here.

Please contact us at hvitserk@norrona.com if you have any questions and check out our gear page to learn more.

Required:

SKIS, BOOTS, POLES

Durable skis, leather clip in boots, and backcountry ski poles. 

SKINS

Short and long.

SKI WAX

Blue and green rating

BASE LAYER - 2 SETS

2 sets of wool long-sleeved top and bottom. Warm, Extra Warm or Expedition thickness is recommended. 

MID-LAYER

A medium thickness wool or fleece top to go over your base layer. 

INSULATED JACKET

A thick, warm, insulated jacket to put on during breaks. We recommend a puffy jacket with down or synthetic. 

SHELL / RAIN JACKET

Gore-Tex or similar is mandatory. Extremely important in Norwegian climate. The jacket must be waterproof, have a hood, and make sure you don’t get wet even if it rains all day. We recommend jackets with pit zips for ventilation. 

INSULATED PANTS

Down pants, you won't regret it! 

EXTRA TOP LAYER

Bring an extra medium-thick layer to add underneath your medium insulated jacket in case you get cold easily. 

GLOVES & MITTENS

1 thin pair of wool gloves to protect your hands. 1 pair of over mittens for additional warmth with windproofing. 1 extra pair of thick mittens in case yours get wet. 3 in total. 

HATS

2 warm hats. 1 thick, 1 thin. Make sure at least one has a windproof lining. 

WOOL SOCKS

4 pairs, we recommend wool, above the ankle or higher. 2 thin. 2 thick. We recommend a 5th pair that are extra thick for evenings. 

DOWN BOOTIES

Bring lightweight boots for when we are not skiing. 

SUNGLASSES 1 & 2

UV rated, we recommend a strap to keep them in place and so they don't get lost. Bring dark lenses with plastic frames, not metal. Bring a second pair of Alpine Glasses, these cover more of your face in case of strong winds.

SUNSCREEN / CHAPSTICK

Make sure the Chapstick has UV rated sunscreen in it. 

WATER BOTTLES

Insulated water bottle, 2-liter capacity. Do not bring a camelback bladder, this will freeze in cold temperatures. 

TOILETRIES

Personal basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, a small towel, soap etc..

PERSONAL MEDICATIONS

Make sure you bring any personal meds you need on your trip and ensure the Hvitserk office is updated on your allergies or needs. 

SHELL PANTS

Waterproof shell pants. Goretex is best. We recommend heavier duty pants to keep you warm with zips for ventilation. 

HEADLAMP

Make sure you bring extra batteries as they die faster in the cold. 

SLEEPING BAG

Must have a comfort level at least -30 Celcius

SLEEPING MAT

2 sleeping mats, one inflatable with down and the other a simple foam mattress. 

WOOL UNDERWEAR

We highly recommend bringing wool underwear and bra. No cotton.

COMPRESSION SACKS FOR GEAR

Recommended for storing your gear, keeping it dry, and compressing your down jackets to create more space. 

BALACLAVA AND BUFF

A wool layer to protect your neck and face. 

THERMOS

We recommend a thermos for hot drinks to have with you all day. We suggest a large, 1-liter thermos.

FIRST AID KIT

If you have certain hiking aids specific to you: i.e. blister care or ibuprofen, etc...

CAMERA

Be prepared for the cold. Insulating your camera will keep it working for the entire trip. We suggest bringing an extra battery pack. 

SITTING MAT

Strongly recommended to insulate you from the ground.

FOOD EQUIPMENT

For your personal use, dish, cutlery, cup

REPAIR-KIT

Multi-tool, extra shoelaces, needle and thread for small repairs etc

PASSPORT AND ID

To get into Svalbard

ANTIBAC

If you need it for the bathroom or lunch. 

WET WIPE OR TOILET PAPER

If you have a bathroom emergency while hiking. We use "pack it in pack it out" ethics, so you will need to carry out your used items and throw them away later.

EAR PLUGS

If you're a light sleeper.

JOURNAL AND PEN

 In order to take notes and write about the trip.

SNACKS

Chocolate, nuts or energy bars if there is something particular you enjoy eating. You will have the opportunity to buy snacks on your trip.

HEADSET

If you would like to listen to music or an audiobook while skiing.

SLEEPING MASK

If you're a light sleeper, the nights are light this time of year. 

Special notes on equipment and clothing on the trip

- It is important that clothes and sleeping bags be packed in waterproof covers. 
- The pulks will weigh 20 - 30 kg.
- Joint equipment will be distributed among the participants.
- Participants are divided into tent layers of two and two or three and three.
- Cooking and snow melting is done by the individual tent team.

We provide with equipment:
- Hillebergtent
- Pulk and drag (pariserpulk) for each of the participants
- Pulk bag for use in the pulk
- Signal gun
- Rifle
- Satellite phone
- First aid
- Shovels
- Primus
- Fuel
- GPS
- Map and compass
- Pots and cutlery
- Food and drink
- Glacier equipment
- Toilet paper

Food and drink:
Food is included and you pick what you want from the storage in Svalbard - Bread/porridge for breakfast, dry-tech for lunch, drinks (coffee/tea/juice), chocolate (100 grams per day), nuts, biscuits, and vacuum-packed dinner and dessert. If you would like more chocolate/snacks, please bring this yourself.

NB: If you are going to be on the first trip that starts in March, it is extra important that you bring warm clothes, as it can often be a bit colder at this time. You may want to bring extra warm wool socks and wool underwear.

Dates & booking

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This trip is also offered as a private tailormade trip. Travel alone, with your friends or family whenever you want. Send a request
Wed 24. Mar 2021 Wed 28. Apr 2021
Morten Rostille
Guide: Morten
Available
NOK 99 000

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