Korpijaakko

– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Category Archives: ultima thule 2011

Post 4: Perriertoppen and Pyramiden

22.04.2011 – 15th day on skis

Once again the time and solar power available for personal blog hasn’t met in the best possible way…

On Monday 18th we woke up seeing the summit of Perriertoppen thru a veil of clouds. We postponed the start towards the summit for two hours to let the clouds break away. First we climbed hill with skis and then changed to crampons. The next two hours was spent on 45 degree snow slope with strap crampons falling occasionally off and being taped and strapped back on their place to keep us on the steep slope. After five hundred vertical meters of ascent in white-out like conditions we reached the summit ridge and were soon on the summit! Clouds broke away and the view was spectacular! Descent with crampons was slow and careful with one minor slip leading to a broken ski stick. The desent on skis was fun with nice slope and powder snow. It was over seven hours trip with no food breaks so we ate and hit our sleeping bags. During the evening the temperature dropped to -25 Celsius. No wonder that it felt cold!

Tuesday 19th meant a turning point for our trip. We turned our skis towars South and home. Well, to be precise we started to ski towards West and Austfjorden. After a good day of skiing with great views we camped on the shore of the fjord and started the usual bear guard duty (two hours shifts rolling from tent to tent). Unfortunately no bears were seen but several birds instead.

During the night a storm broke and the start for Wednesday was postponed until afternoon. In the afternoon the wather got better and actually very good and we skied under sunny skies on the Mittagleflerbreen. It was, once again, a good day of skiing and we got so high up to the glacier that there was no need for bear guard during the night.

Thursday 21st started with a nice sunny weather and after admiring an old empty glacial lake we found ourselves sweating in a steep uphill with some 400 meteres ascent. But after every ascent cconmes a descent and we had an enjoyable ride down to the shores of Petuniabukta where we pitched our camp. We spent the evening sitting outside in a great wheather and the night was spent in a bear guard duty.

Friday 22nd started in a milklike mist with poor visibility but we started the ski towards the abandoned Russian town of Pyramiden. On the way we saw some seals on the ice but no polar bears. The city is wierd, great and maybe a bit spooky but it wasn’t abandoned. According to a Norwegian we met there are 4-10 people keeping the place together and what really surprised us… They keep a bar! There is a hotel and a bar in the old abandoned mining town! And in addition to sightseeing we really, really had to have beers in the bar. Arctic skiing expedition are like the life itself: full of surprices. =)

Less than a week left and we are back to Longyearbyen. Today is the time to change socks and underwear. 😉

All well for the expedition.

PS. Sorry for the typos, I’m in a hurry writing this before the battery dies!

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Post 3: One miss, one hit, one to go!

17.04.2011 – 10th day on skis

It has been a while since the last update. Either I’ve been too busy/tired to write or we haven’t had enough power for personal blog updates.

Wednesday 13th was a full working day: eight legs and 17,25km as the crow flies. It was a good day of skiing with nice down hill section in the end (we still need to ski because of skins and heavy pulkas but it is easier). I decided that I won’t chance socks or under wear at least for the first two weeks. Just to see how it goes… Hopefully my tent partner Matias can tolerate it. 😉

Thursday was a day of great weather! Sun shine, blue skies, calm, warm (well, -7 Celsius but it felt warm) and I skied without jacket wearing my Finnsvala Powerstretch shirt (superior!). And great views also! We skied 8 legs and made a record day with 18,25 kilometers of progress. At the end f the day we crossed to ski tracks! Apparently we are not the only ones here, but we haven’t seen any one else for a well over week now. We reached the so called Newtontoppen basecamp and planned to launch attempt to the top on the next morning… In the evening the temperature dropped to -26 Celsius. FIrt time I really had some use for my sleeping system.

The weather wasn’t too promising on Friday morning and we postponed the summit bid until 11:00 am. Nine of us (three stayed in camp resting and healing sore heals) started the ski towards the summit. The wind was getting stronger all the time and visibility was dropping accordingly. After 1,5 hours of skiing our guide Vaiska called a U-turn and we returned to camp. We were left 450 vertical meters and few hours of skiin shy of the summit. As the bad weather continued to reign, I decided to celebrate my birthday a day earlier. We made a great cake, 3 liter pot on Minttu-kaakao (actually, we made the full pot twice…) and invited everyone for a visit. Hilleberg Keron 3 GT can easily take 10 people and a stove box… It was a nice day and a special way to celebrate birthday. =)

We were woken up on Saturday morning with very stormy weather and poor visibility. Winds gusted over 18m/s with average speed being over 13m/s. This meant no go for the summit and we started the waiting game in our tents, mostly spending time burying ourselves deeper into our sleeping bags. After some time we took a vote and ended up leaving the basecamp and continuing towards our next goal: Perriertoppen. I was against this but as the weather didn’t improve during the rest of the day, it was a good desicion. We skied 7 legs towards the Perriertoppen basecamp, place with beautifull views called "Little Chamonix".

So we didn’t make it to the top of Newtontoppen but we crossed 79 degress of Northern Latitude which was one of our goals. This means that we have one hit, one miss and two things to try.

Today (Sunday 17th) we skied another seven legs but spent three hours lowering our pulkas down the Gallerbreen with climbing ropes. It was a very steep descent and we had to wear crampons and lowering the pulkas with ropes was the only way to get them down in one piece. But we reached the Perriertoppen basecamp which is insanel corgeus place! I can’t describe the views… Hopefully we get good weather tomorrow so that we can make it to the summit. If we make, the only thing left is seeing a polar bear and that is quite likely during our way back to Longyearbyen as we ski mostly along shores (and via the abandoned Russian town of Pyramdien).

All well for the expedition.

PS. SOrry for the typos, I’m in a hurry writing this. It’s not about the drinks but about the hurry!

Post 2: Days of storm and whiteness!

12.04.2011 – 5th day on skis

Since the last update, the second day on skis, a lot has happened: for example we have skied, slept and eaten and waited down a storm .

The third day started as any day: wake up at 07:00, at skis on 09:00 and seven legs (50 minutes skiing + 10 minutes break) of skiing. THe first three legs until lunch were pretty nice skiing in valley of Gipsdalen. After lunch we started the asent to the main glacier of Spitsbergen. This means some 1000-1100 meters of ascent. We managed to climb about 500 meters during the day until we pitched our camp with rising winds on the glacier. I measured energy consumption of 4950 kcal during the skiing with maximum heart rate peaking at 185! The weather got wotrse during the evening but was still managable, wind being around 9m/s. After the usual evening chores we hit the bunk… on sleeping bags, to be exact. It was still only some 5 Celsius and I was ince again sweating in very, very warm Cumulus sleeping bag. I’ve been screwed! This was supposed to be artcic stuff!

The fourth day started with a lot more arctic feel! Temperature was still around -5 Celsius but winds were bloving around 13m/s with gusts closing to 20m/s. Air was full of snow and spindrift meaning zero visibility. And being on å possibly crevassed Glasier that meant also a forced day of rest. Day was spent mostly making salad as our guide Vaiska said. We don’t have any vegetables with us so we opted rum. =) We celebrated Henkka’s birthday (which was on Friday but we didn’t let is slow us down) and in addition slept, ate, slept and tweaked gear (I think I’ll never get bored to that). At the evening weather was already better and we saw a blink of the sun!

The morning of the fifth day started in near white-out conditions with zero wind, jumped on our skis at 09:00 and continued climbing. We skied again seven legs compliting the worst of the ascent and pitching the camp at Lomonosovfonna glacier. A normal day of skiing with varying visibility, light or zero winds and slightly dropping temperatures. We saw some great moutnaisn during the day but at the evening we are once again in a cloud.

It feels strange to type with a laptop, back up photos to USB hard drive etc. while sitting in a tent with a stove and the middle of nowhere… Well, it’s great here. I just hope that the tempreatures would drop a bit. It would make some things a bit easier… Some 36 kilometers to Newtontoppen.

Tech is up and running so there should be photos on the official expedition blog!

All well for the expedition.

Post 1: Greetings from the Arctic!

09.04.2011 – 2nd day on skis

After a great hassle on both airports – Helsinki-Vantaa and Oslo – we managed to get ourselves and all our gear to

Longyearbyen at Thursday afternoon and were greeted with -14 Celcius, strong wind and spindrift. Getting rooms for everyone in Mary Ann’s was a bit difficult as the hostel was full of people heading to Barneo ice station and to ski the last degree to the Pole. They should have left before we arrived but the runway of the ice station had apparently cracked in half which caused the hostel to be over-booked. Dispite the problems we got rooms, did some shopping, put the gear into a warehouse and ate tasty and expensive (everything is expensive in Longyearbyen!) hamburgers. In the evening some of went to adjust their gear, some went to bar and some did both.

Friday started with a breakfast in the hostel. THen we did once again some more packing and were ready to leave at midway. We loaded our gear – around one metric ton all combined – to a bandvagn and started a three and half hours drive towards Fredheim. THe ride was nice as the heater of the vehicle worked. At Fredheim we unloaded the gear and after lunch we jumped on our skis around 16:30. Tempelfjorden was forzen enough for us to ski across it. The heavy sleds tipped and jammed constantly in the rubble ice but made it across. On the opposite shore we skied on broken ice floes that moved with the waves. Quite an experience! After five legs of skiing we arrived at the mouth of the Gipsdalenelva river and set camp on the sea shore which meant a night with bear guard duty. Unfortunately (?) we didn’t see any bears but there was a spectacular sunset! During the evening the temperature had risen from -8 Celsius close to zero and wind had died causing me to roast in my very warm Cumulus sleeping bag.

The dawn broke with light snow, varying visibility and mild temperature. We broke the camp at 11:00 as agreed because of the late arrival on the previous evening. We skied six legs in the aforementioned conditions through a beatiful mountaneous valley of Gipsdalen covering some 15 kilometers for the day. Dispate the fact that our sleds weight about 80 kilo each, they feel surprisingly light! It doesn’t feel much different than 40-50 kilo sled that I am used to haul. This is partly because of the mild temperature as there is not that much friction to slow the sled. I’d hope that the temperature would drop a bit as skiing in these temperatures is sweaty job! Though I don’t miss the wind at all..

At the moment we have eaten, melted snow and are having some good time p reparing for tomorrow. Tomorrow we will have over 500 vertical meters of ascent with the sleds so it is a though day a head!

We have some technical difficulties sending pictures, so you have to wait for them for a while. When we get things running there should be pics updated daily to the official expeditions blog.

All well for the expedition.

The game is on!

Everything should be packed now. At least I hope so and the amount of gear is very impressive.

I finished sewing some last minute velcro patches on gear and I am now leaving to Hollola to check gear with my tent partner Matias and from there will leave to Helsinki-Vantaa airport around 03:00 tomorrow night. On the way to Hollola I’ll visit a shooting range at Utti to do some last minute rehearsals with a rifle. Because of some cancellation I am now designated rifle shooter of our expedition, so that means another luxurous five kilo of weight on the sled…

I’ll update Twitter while on the cellphne coverage, so remeber to check http://twitter.com/korpijaakko!