Day 14 (Last day)

Yet again, the wonderful weather was replaced by a snow storm and created uncertainties regarding our ride back to Longyearbyen. Sitting in the tent when the wind, the snow and the fog were making more and more trouble outside, and knowing that the only food left was marzipan and peanut butter (our stomachs were screaming for mercy just by the thought), was making us quite nervous.

Twenty minutes went by.. 43 minutes… 53 minutes.. 54 minutes.. We started cleaning our hats for hair and other things we might have greased them with for the last two weeks. Just doing all kinds of things to make the time go by, really. Then we decided to make a call from the satellite phone to get the latest updates on our pick-up guys. Word were they could be there any minute.

Another 20, 30 and 40 minutes went by and we heard some faint noises. Couldn’t see anything outside but snow and fog, but after a minute we knew for sure. They were coming for us. We ran outside the tent in joy with a huge smile on our face.

The ride home were actually really fun, navigating yet again only by the GPS. You just can’t see anything but a big endless white fog, mixing the snow with the fog and the sky. The scooter ahead of you is navigating by the GPS, and the guys behind is catching sight of him every time the wind decides to release the wind transported snow just for a minute, allowing us to adjust the direction to follow his trail. The scooters sled with our stuff on got stuck several times due to the heavy load, and one of the guys were asking us ironically why we hadn’t eaten up our food.

Nevertheless, after a few hours of riding in the blind, we ended up near Tempelfjorden. The Tuna glacier are surging and breaking up towards the inner part of Tempelfjorden, and the breaking ice are allowing the seals to come up.

Just a couple weeks before, a polar bear were hunting in those areas. A tourist were dragged out of his tent in the morning hours and the bear was sadly shot and killed. The brutal nature around here have made our trip more exciting, but is also showing the fragility of the arctic animal life. The animals should be respected, and safe routes should be chosen to avoid their habitats.

The weather cleared up and we smiled the rest of the way back to Longyearbyen. We sighted some seals and stopped a few times to look at the gorgeous portrait that stretched everywhere around us.

We got back to Longyearbyen safely and we have been organizing for the travel back to Norway tomorrow. We have been filling almost all our memory cards with photos and videos, and we can’t wait to start the processing work. Thanks has to be sent to all our sponsors, to our families who have spent countless hours to make proper food and snacks for us to eat during the expedition, and to Joackim who has dedicated his time to update the live blog during this expedition.

Day 13

The deep snow really slowed down the pace today. After about 3 hours they decided to set up camp. The tripwires went off almost immediately, but no bears in sight. No stomach problems today, but the nutrition the coming days wont be optimal to say the least. They got their meals, but everything in between is basically marzipan.

After a quick meal (not marzipan) they went ski touring, and the mountain «Neptunfjellet» (1,524m) gave them a real treat. An absolute spectacular view waited for them, and the adrenaline on the way down was a much needed distraction from the exhausting last few days.

Only a couple of days left!

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Camp location for day 13: Lat: 79.081940 Lon: 17.157941

Day 12

The guys ate good last night and felt ready for the 12th day of the expedition. But just as they started skiing Tor felt some stomach issues, and soon after Bjørn felt it as well. I spoke to the guys over satellite phone today and they could tell me that they’ve only got about 21,000 calories left, and the majority of that is peanut butter and marzipan (no wonder their stomachs are acting up). That equals to about 3,500 daily calories each, which isn’t half of what they’ll be needing. They’re in for some tough days.

Because of the 20cm of fresh snow they have a hard time conserving the little energy they got left. The pulks are acting like plows through the snow and the wind always seems to come head on – needless to say it has been another draining day. They covered 13.5km and set camp at the glacier «Veteranen».

The weather was really clear tonight, perfect for photographing. Taking pictures of the astonishing surroundings in the middle of nowhere under a clear night sky, knowing that their food supply is meager, reminded them where they were and the fragility of the reality in these conditions.

Whether or not it’s the solitude or the tired bodies that cause these existential moments I don’t know, but it sure don’t seem to affect the atmosphere in a negative way. Even though they’re exhausted, soon out of food and a really long way from a hot shower, they’re really exited to be exactly where they are.

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Camp location for day 12: Lat: 79.052575 Lon: 17.235425

Day 11

The elements won today. Thick fog and unstable snow halted the plan to ski down «Newtontoppen». They waited an hour under under a wind protecting tarp at the foot of the mountain for the weather to clear, but no use. The last days have been intense, and this morning they felt extra tired and fatigued, so they decided to go back to camp, get some much needed rest and fuel up for the last 4/5 days.

Tomorrow they’ll enter the glacier «Veteranen». The conditions will be hard, as it snowed at least 20cm today. But the spirits are high, and with tonights calorie surplus they’ll be ready for the distance ahead.

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Camp location for day 11: Lat: 78.963578 Lon: 17.564156

Day 10

«And just when you think it can’t get any harder»

It really can. The guys had their toughest day yet, as they both had to pull one pulk at a time without skis on to get up a steep hill. The map showed a mild uphill, but the reality was – and I quote – «a big lie». In the next downhill one of the pulks overturned and broke one of the rando skis. They had to summon their inner MacGyver to repair the damage, which they (kind of) did («with a plank and lots of tape»).

Right now it’s a beautiful clear night sky and -30C°. They both are really looking forward till tomorrow when they’ll climb to the summit of «Newtontoppen» (Svalbards highest peak at 1713m) and ski down.

In other news: the last days immense energy usage have required a lot of eating, and the side effects have begun to show. Bjørn got some stomach problems and needs to go out of the tent quite often. Lets hope they remembered to buy imodium.

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Camp location for day 10: Lat: 78.963546 Lon: 17.564413

Day 9

Today was both beautiful and exhausting. The never ending ascend is now done, and they’re camping at «Newtontoppen», 1327 meters above sea level (the mountain summit is at 1713m and is Svalbards highest point). They really felt the weight of their pulks today, and the way to the top was a demanding one. Another day with a serious calorie deficit. No hallucinations this time, however, they were both totally empty when they reached the top.

Before setting up camp, they ate a solid meal of 2 packets of crispbread and a jar of peanut butter (each), which is about 3 000kcal. After the camp was set, they made a heavy dinner, with some candy afterwards. The feast was necessary brought them both physically an mentally back on track.

They’re enjoying some magnificent scenery, and the coming days will probably be easier, allowing them to cover more distance each day. No cellular reception today, so no images. Lets hope they find the sweetspots tomorrow.

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Camp location for day 9: Lat: 78.864165 Lon: 17.417000


Day 8

The frostnips from yesterday have healed, no tissue damage done. However, they woke up to another day with low visibility and 15cm of fresh snow. Combined with the continuous ascent the conditions were really poor. The motivation took a hard hit and for the first time of the expedition the spirits were low.

Throughout the morning hours the weather changed for the better, and the atmosphere rose alongside with the sun. The 8th leg of the expedition was tough, but beautiful nonetheless. Tomorrow they’ll enter one of Svalbards most magnificent areas which is rumoured to have cellular reception. If that’s the case, they’ll be able to send more detailed updates and photos. Fingers crossed!

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Camp location for day 8: Lat: 78.747500 Lon: 17.620481


Day 7

«Can someone send us a masseur?»

A total whiteout today. Lots of snow, even more headwind and absolutely no visibility. They’ve relied 100 percent on the GPS for navigation and been constantly hungry throughout the day. For the first time of the expedition they’ve had a hard time getting enough nutrition.

The low visibility made them waist lots of energy on poor routes through the terrain and the calorie deficit led to mild fatigue and even hallucinations as they fought their way through the elements. After 10 brutal hours skiing and less than 10km covered, they decided to set up camp and eat, eat and eat.

The colossal dinner worked wonders and they soon regained consciousness. But as they ate, they discovered small white areas on their noses. Even though they’ve used their masks to guard against the extreme cold, it seems like they got the early stages of frost bite. Frostnip, as it’s called, does not permanently damage the skin if treated properly, but they’re consulting proficient help to ensure everything gets done correctly.

A rough and challenging day, but the atmosphere is on top. We’ll get more news from the guys tomorrow, stay tuned!

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Camp location for day 7: Lat: 78.635448 Lon: 17.836260

Day 6

Day 6 The guys entered a new glacier today and saw the first humans after leaving Longyearbyen 6 days ago. They felt competitive and got the urge to pass the other expeditioners, but to no avail. They saw another 2 groups of explorers soon after and realized it wasn’t the best idea to push the pace – especially after speaking to one of them who’ve just been at «Verlegenhuken», the end goal of the expedition.

They’re in for some tiresome conditions. He could tell about fresh snow and a really uneven terrain ahead of them, and his frozen beard and chapped lips showed them that he probably told the truth. Good weather today. Almost 15km, with 838m of elevation.

The course for «Newtontoppen» is set, and tonights camp is at the outskirts of Sassen–Bünsow Land National Park, 779m above sea level.

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Camp location for day 6: Lat: 78.562298 Lon: 18.008780

Day 5

Day 5

Fog and low visibility characterized the first half of the day, but as they got higher up the glacier, the fog cleared and the sun bettered the conditions. They’re really starting to get familiarized with all the daily drills, routines and the equipment in general. Everything is going smooth at this point.

Today was another beautiful stage – 13km and almost 900 meters of elevation. Beautiful, and physically tough. With 80kgs pulks, the elevation takes its toll. They’ll pass a new glacier tomorrow and set course for «Newtontoppen», the highest peak on Svalbard, at 1 731m. The mountain is approximately 60km away, and if everything goes according to plan they’ll reach the top in 3 to 4 days. The camp for today is in the middle of Sassen–Bünsow Land National Park, 461m above sea level.

The temperatures are plummeting and have dropped even further. The boys are in for yet another cold night.

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Camp location for day 5: Lat: 78.443863 Lon: 17.893616