Greenland icecap

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Greenland Icecap
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   ** Icecap Crossing & Arctic's Highest Mountain **

Icecap crossing of the Brede & Knud Rasmussen Land icecaps, culminating in an ascent of Gunnbjørns Fjeld 3693m

"This is just a quick email to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Greenland. It was superb, and I would like to thank you for organising it. My team mates were great, and Paul Rose was fantastic. The whole journey lived up to all my expectations and the memories will stay with me forever"
Simon Fellows (Brede to Watkins team member 2012)

Looking for a new and exciting Greenland icecap challenge? - The opening up of yet another major Greenland icecap crossing route by the world's leading experts! A shorter 250km journey in east Greenland, from the remote Brede Glacier to the Watkins Mountains, culminating in an ascent of Gunnbjørnsfjeld, the highest peak in the arctic at 3,693m. An unsupported ski and man hauling journey using pulks which will also be stopping off en route to make one or two first ascents of easy grade peaks on the Knud Rasmussen Land ice field in this breathtaking region. An ideal Polar journey with the option of traction kite training and a splendid and varied journey for those unable to manage 5 weeks off work for the full east-west traverse. This expedition can also be used as a training expedition for major North and South Pole journeys. Travelling north to south down the eastern side of the icecap and then trending southwestwards this expedition will have following winds throughout. At such a high latitude the expedition will also receive far more settled and more typically drier polar weather than the usual crossings further south. Also available to private and independent groups.


Accommodation in Iceland is provided on a Bed & Breakfast basis, and other meals are not included in Iceland. Expedition food will be provided on a full board basis for the time spent on expedition in Greenland. This will include camping style food during transit at Constable Point airport. If clients choose to eat in the airport canteen this is not included and should be paid for locally in Danish crowns or by credit/debit card.


The expedition will involve camping in snow conditions on permanently snow covered glaciers. During periods of snowfall it will be necessary to 'dig out' your tent and maintain good overall camp organisation and camp craft skills. Strong Northerly winds can be a factor on the more exposed icecap sections of the journey and on the summit attempt on Gunnbjørmnsfjeld. Individuals and tent pairs will be expected to cook their own food as tent teams.


Previous sled hauling experience is not essential, however some prior training in cross country ski technique is required. This can be done during our training weekend in Scotland. Excellent organisation and camping skills essential, along with the ability to work well as part of a team under often stressful circumstances. Ice cap journeys are as much a mental as well as physical challenge and team members must be prepared for long hard days of up to 9 hrs sled hauling, on several consecutive days at a time. Previous camping experience essential along with a reasonable level of previous snow/glacier camping and cold climate experience. All team members must be happy camping in full snow conditions and expect to be confident handling ski travel and camping in blizzards and extreme cold temperatures. A high level of fitness, endurance and self motivation are essential. Once underway there is no option to back out without the significant financial consequences of a private helicopter pick up.


It is very important that we form the core group for this crossing and have our final team in place as soon as possible. These are not the type of expeditions that can receive late bookings! Please let us know IMMEDIATELY if you are interested in this expedition. I am happy to travel anywhere within the UK to meet prospective clients and talk you though the expedition in greater detail. We can also tailor make a bespoke expedition for pairs and private groups, either self led or led by one of our own experienced guides.


Several of our previous east-west crossing expeditions have used specially designed traction kites belonging to Tangent; large adjustable canopies designed to cover significant distances using wind assistance, which can pull the team along at considerable speeds. Often, due to poor visibility and unusual head winds, little or no use of these kites has been made. But on occasion they can be very useful and great fun. It is debatable whether they are of good enough benefit to warrant carrying on a Greenland crossing. Significant amounts of time can be lost due to preparation and training whilst on the glacier. Sometimes several hours per day can be used up unpacking, rigging and packing up again, with only a little 'on task' time sometimes being achieved, often due to changing wind speeds and wind direction. In more recent years we have also learned the necessity to gain considerable practice with these kites before trying to use them in Greenland. We may find that we have a mix of clients who do and do not wish to use kites, in which case we will look at the possibility of having one expedition with kites and one without, depending on client numbers. We will only use kites with group sizes of maximum 3 clients plus guide, and only after significant training prior to arriving in Greenland. Therefore the use of kites in a small team will have additional time and cost implications for training weekends and a possible 4 day training trip to Norway (subject to client agreement).


The group will meet on the Saturday at our favourite centrally located guesthouse in Reykjavik, Iceland. Regular flights are available from most European countries direct to Iceland's international airport at Keflavik, from where a coach will take you direct to the guesthouse. The next morning you will fly direct to Constable Point airstrip in northeast Greenland. The views are splendid as we pass over the frozen Denmark Straits for the last hour of the flight before descending in to the Hurry Fjord approach and touching down on the gravel airstrip. From here a completely different world awaits with arctic mountains, glaciers, huskies, snow mobiles and huge ice bergs stranded on the shallows of the fjord. The group will spend one full day at our Constable Point base preparing their equipment and carrying out final training before being flown south across Scoresby Sund, the world's largest fjord, by private helicopter to a start position on the Brede Glacier. Our team of snowmobile guides will have already pre-placed a depot of food and equipment at the base of the glacier. The helicopter will then return to this depot and bring the contents up to your start position. At the end of the expedition you will be collected by private Twin Otter ski plane from Gunnbjørnsfjeld base camp in the Watkins Mountains.


Your final camp for the ascent of Gunnbjørnsfjeld will be at the Twin Otter aircraft landing site at the foot of access glacier leading up to the SW ridge of Gunnbjørnsfjeld. Position N68'56 W29'43. Altitude 2180m.


Acclimatisation should not be an issue during the expedition journey, which takes place at altitudes between 1500 and 2500m. By the time you reach the Watkins Mountains you should be well acclimatised for the summit ascent up to 3700m.


April is usually a good month in east Greenland with fewer storms and blizzards than earlier in the winter. Long periods of both good and bad weather can prevail and vary from year to year. 2011 saw significant bad weather during this time, whilst 2012 was absolutely perfect throughout! Day time temperatures will be in the range of -8 to -20'c, with night time temperatures falling to -12 to -25'c. Temperatures will slowly increase throughout the 3 week duration of this expedition.


Apart from just a few hours of dusk in the first week or two, the expedition will have 24 hour light conditions throughout.


Team members will require all the usual winter expedition clothing but specifically including windproof salopettes and jacket, insulated down jacket, face mask and expedition gloves/mitts. A detailed equipment list is available post booking on the restricted section of our website, however the following is an outline summary.


Tangent will provide Snowsled pulk sledges, North Face tents, snow pegs, floor insulation, MSR stoves, specially commissioned stove insulation boards, fuel bottles, fuel cans, fuel funnels, stove spares kits, lighters, pans, white gas fuel, food, toilet paper, maps & aerial reconnaissance photos, GPS, group survival shelter, snow shovels, emergency flares, PLB (emergency locator beacon), VHF air band radio, VHF marine band radio, satellite telephone & solar re-charging system, polar bear early warning trip wire sysytem, expedition medical kit including injectable pain killers and anti-biotics, general spares and repair kit, client prussik loops, a rope, and all crevasse rescue equipment for glacier travel.

Clients will need to provide their own large rucksack/travel bag, 40+ litre daysack for daily access, good quality sleeping bag comfort rated to -25'c, inflatable sleeping mattress (& repair kit), foam sleeping mattress, water/windproof jacket and trousers, suitable alpine ski touring or nordic skis and boots, ski poles, new full length skins, new short 'Kicker' skins, spare skin glue, tip and tail glide wax, crampons, full winter clothing including windproof salopettes and jackets, insulated down jacket, face mask and expedition gloves/mitts/hat/balaclava, 100% UV cat 4/5 sun glasses, 100% UV snow goggles, 1 litre metal flask, 1 litre water bottle (including insulating cover), eating/drinking cup/bowl/utensils, pee (toilet) bottle, multi-tool knife, lightweight harness, helmet, 5 x screwgate karabiners, light weight ice axe, GPS (optional), compass.


Clients are required to take out specialist compulsory insurance as part of a Tangent group policy specifically for Tangent groups operating in such remote parts of arctic Greenland. This policy meets the specific requirements laid down by the Greenland authorities. The cost is £450 per person. Please see our insurance site for details.
An additional bank guarantee of £22,000 is required by the Greenland permit authorities for any expedition venturing on to the Greenland icecap. This is to cover any search & rescue and evacuation costs not covered by insurance. Counter indemnities and bank guarantees will therefore be put in place between all clients and Tangent Expeditions Ltd, which clients will be required to sign. Further details will be supplied to participants prior to booking.


Ian Barker has worked in outdoor education and development training for over 28 years and is a qualified Mountaineering Instructor (MIC), having led over 25 worldwide expeditions, taking in all 7 continents. He has extensive Polar and Arctic/Antarctic experience and has worked with the British Antarctic Survey and University of Cambridge Earth Sciences department. He's spent several seasons ski guiding and mountaineering in the European Alps and has led many previous Tangent Greenland expeditions to Liverpool Land, Milne Land, Knud Rasmussen Land and the Watkins Mountains, and has previously summited Gunnbjørnsfjeld.


If you would like to consider joining this expedition then please contact Paul Walker as soon as possible. The first step will be for me to meet each of you personally (if UK resident) before arranging a group meeting as early as possible at our base in the Lake District. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the following:

   1. Further details of the expedition,
   2. Finalise dates for training and for the expedition,
   3. Look at equipment and clothing.
   4. Discuss the experience of the group,
   5. Look at the route and logistics,
   6. Decide on use of kites or not.
If you know of anyone else who might be interested in the expedition can you please pass on our contact details to them.

The start date is initially flexible and can be changed to best suit private groups. Bespoke expeditions and private logistics can easily be arranged for Independent groups. Please enquire for a quote.

We offer a 10% DISCOUNT for a suitably qualified expedition doctor, nurse or paramedic.

Personal Service - all prospective clients are welcome to visit us at our home in Cumbria or Paul Walker will travel to any part of the mainland UK free of charge to meet with you and discuss the expedition in more detail and show you maps and photographs. We believe this benchmark service is offered by no other expedition travel company and supports our commitment to providing an ultimate level of high quality personal service.

Back to Icecap Crossings


Icecap Crossing galleries
East Greenland Crossing map

New Icecap Routes map


26 April - 17 May 2017


GBP 11,950
(Deposit GBP 1950)
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What's Included

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Leadership Style / Group Size

Min:  4 (including leader)
Max: 6 (including leader)
Professionally guided expedition

Equipment Hire

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Other Icecap Crossing Expeditions

East-West Crossings
Dog Sled Assisted
Polar Training and Arctic Survival
Liverpool Land North-South Traverse