What does it feel like to undertake a journey that no one has ever attempted before?
This is precisely what Leifur Örn Svavarsson discovered, alongside a skilled group of elite Icelandic mountaineers during their latest expedition. Their mission was a unique journey – to traverse 1200km kite-assisted, across East Greenland and the Greenland Ice Cap, over a month-long period.
“This is not just an adventure, it’s an expedition”.
On 27th April, 2017, Leifur Örn Svavarsson, travelling with Hallgrímur Magnusson, Einar Stefansson, Tomas Juliusson and Skuli Magnusson departed from Akureyri, Northern Iceland, to the bottom of Scorsby Sound – the world’s largest fjord system. Countless months of logistical organisation, meal planning and gear preparation all boiled down to this one moment.
Their destination? The small hunters’ village of Isortoq, South of Ammassalik Island, over 1200km away.
As with any expedition however, there were many uncertainties. This trip in particular relied upon one constant unknown. Weather. The primary mode of transport for the group once they arrived on the Ice Cap were Nordic skis, pulling pulkas behind with all their equipment and supplies. But to be within a shot of their predetermined time-frame, the group also heavily relied on kite assistance for extra propulsion. Extra distance, without the extra expended energy.
Each member of the team carried with them 4, closed-cell kites, strung with up 80 metre lines – ideal for catching wind stream across the Ice Cap.
After endless struggles, fighting against conditions that were against their favour, often in temperatures below -24°C, the team left the glacier-filled valleys into the comfort of the magnificently located town of Isortoq, little over 33 after their mission began.
Leifur Örn Svavarsson founded Icelandic Mountain Guides (IMG) along with expedition partner Einar Stefansson in 1994. He has an expedition portfolio spanning over three decades, and has a number of world-first expeditions under his belt.