This expedition takes place in one of the most beautiful places on Earth - Svalbard. Its largest island, Spitsbergen, has an expansive feast of mountains, glaciers and icecaps and at almost 80º north, it is a frigidly cold place in March, making it the perfect stage for both a polar expedition and cold-climate training. We guarantee that this 10-day program will whet your Arctic appetite, at least temporarily, and set you up for survival and savvy in almost any polar or extreme-cold environment.
March 20. Meet in Longyearbyen and check in to hotel. Begin preparations. Welcome dinner. (You will require hotel accommodation)
March 21. Preparation, packing, equipment check. Seminars (You will require hotel accommodation)
March 22. Oversnow transport to Sassendalen. Begin ski tour. (We provide tented accommodation)
March 23-29. Descend to Tempelfjorden for sea ice training, if fiord is frozen. If the fiord is not frozen we will head into the mountains of Nordenskjold Land. (We provide tented accommodation)
March 30. Return to Adventdalen, transport to Longyearbyen. (You will require hotel accommodation unless you fly out immediately)
You require 2 nights accommodation at the beginning of the trip and another at the end if you decide to stay the night.
Our Svalbard Expedition covers a wide range of topics and terrains, preparing you for a full-on expedition to almost any polar environment.
We meet in Svalbard’s capital Longyearbyen, on the island of Spitsbergen (Norway). After two nights and a full day of preparing equipment and packing sleds and a couple of technical seminars on equipment and navigation, we travel by over-snow vehicle to the start of our expedition in the Sassendalen valley. Flanked by mountains the valley takes us to Rabot glacier and our first glimpse of crevasses and perhaps roped travel. Roped sled travel is a technical skill, not often practiced yet often enough required in Antarctica and Greenland.
Rabot glacier ascends to our first taste of icecap, Sabine Land, and we head north and trek through the numerous nunataks that typify the area. Our route crosses a common path taken by polar bears between the east coast and the inner fiords, so we also secure the campsite with trip wires. Staying high on the icecap we undertake icecap survival and skills-based activities. Shelters, camp protection, sledding, sled configurations, glacier travel and crevasse rescue are all covered during this segment.
At the top of Rabot Glacier we head west and descend the Von Post glacier to Tempelfjorden, one of the most beautiful fiords in Svalbard. At the head of this frozen fiord lies the Tuna glacier whose terminal face spills into the fiord, though at this time of years it does it in motionless splendour, everything frozen and seemingly lifeless. We may camp on the shore nearby open water and cover Arctic topics such as polar bear safety, sled rafting, dry suit swimming and thin ice safety.
Temperatures can drop to -35c so do not underestimate the severity of this trip. After the sun sets the cold descends on the camp and only stoves, polar sleeping gear and high-energy food can keep you warm. With proper polar clothing and equipment and the best guides in the world you will learn not only how to survive but how to thrive.
On the final day we ski to Adventdalen where we are picked up by vehicle and returned to Longyearbyen.
NOTE: Due to seasonal variations (for example Tempelfjorden may not freeze solid) we may alter the route to maximise your experience. See options below.
There are flights with SAS and Norwegian Air almost daily from Oslo, Norway to Longyearbyen.
Can I leave bags in Longyearbyen?
Yes. We have a secure storage facility in Longyearbyen where you can leave bags.
What will be the temperature on arrival in Longyearbyen and during the trip?
The temperature will be anywhere from -10 to -20C, 14 to -4F
How heavy will my sled be?
For the Svalbard Expedition program your sled will be 45 to 50 kg, 100 to 110 lb.
What if I am not a skier?
Some of our Expedition customers have never been on skis before. It is useful to have prior experience but not mandatory as we will train you at a manageable pace while you are on the ice.
Will there be any crevassing?
Svalbard glaciers are crevassed though this time of year they are still mostly filled in with snow. However we always carry glacier travel equipment - ropes, harnesses, rescue gear - and use it when necessary.
What type of sleds do we use?
What type of tents do we use?
We use Hilleberg Keron 4-person tents for two people. There is plenty of room to get comfortable but small enough to warm up quickly once the stove is operating. You are responsible for setting up, managing and taking down your tent.
What type of sleeping bags and mattresses do we use?
We use Red Fox synthetic sleeping bags rated to -40 and a Thermarest/Ridgerest mattress combination with a 6+ R-Value. We also use Thermarest Trekker Lounge chairs to sit up and rest comfortably in the tents. We use synthetic fill because it tolerates moisture very well, retaining loft, and warmth, if it gets damp.
What will we eat on the expedition?
You can find our menu here
Who cooks the meals and melts the snow for water?
You do! This is a normal part of expedition life. We train you in how to use the stove.
What if there is an emergency and how will we communicate with the outside world?
We carry an Iridium handheld phone and an Iridium modem, we can use both to call services in Longyearbyen and post daily updates and images to our Iceblog. We also carry a tracking beacon with emergency function and a Personal Locator Beacon which can be activated in an emergency. Signals from both are received by emergency services and relayed to Longyearbyen rescue services. We are also in mobile range for much of the trip.
How long do we ski every day on the Svalbard Expedition trip?
We start relatively gently, skiing for around six hours on the first day. We cover this by skiing one hour, then have a short stand-up break, then another hour with a sit down break. We do the same again and have lunch and then another 2 hourly sessions before camping. When everybody feels ready we extend to seven and perhaps eight hours per day.
Feel free to submit your own questions.