North Cape in winter is a life-time experience.
Mageroya Island, located at 71º North, displays some remarkable geographic and climatic features: frozen lakes, ice-free fjords, huge virgin planes and a complete Arctic ecosystem. The place provides a perfect scenario to camp and ski on Polar conditions, yet under slightly milder temperatures due to the influence of the warm Gulf current.
The limitless winterly landscape, the Northern Lights and the feeling of complete isolation make of the island an ideal training camp for those aiming to embark on major Polar expeditions or traverses across Lapland, Greenland, the Baltic sea, Svalbard, etc.
There’s room too for those outdoor fans who, with no larger expedition in mind yet, would like to learn the ropes of polar expedition techniques, hoping to aply such skills to outdoor winter trips near home.
This is not an organized trip, but an exhaustive training. There’ll be no time to waste: we need every single minute to learn, practice and polish details that may prove essential in upcoming Arctic ventures.
There will be both theory and practice – aka lectures and outdoor training sessions - during the course.
The Polar Academy’s HQs will provide comfortable accommodation and classrooms/conference rooms for lectures and workshops.
Due to the unforeseeable Arctic climate, the order of the planned activities may be altered, aiming to seize the best possible weather and snow conditions.
Introduction to the Arctic territories and its characteristics: geography, climate and logistic issues on expeditions (access, permission, paperwork, etc).
Practice on skies or snowshoes in the hills surrounding Honningsvag.
Screening of Borge Ousland’s films about the Arctic. Open discussion.
Practice on skis or snowshoes towards and across frozen lakes. Tips on safety issues on iced terrains and incidents’ management. Return to Honningsvag.
Workshop on equipment: Clothing, sleeping bags (feather, fiber, layer system, vapor barriers, etc.) and tents (types, assembling and dismantling tips, carrying systems, etc.)
Screening of Lars Monsen’s film about Lapland. Open discussion.
Workshop on boots (kinds, pros & cons, vapor barriers, customization of Arctic boots), skis (backcountry, telemark, randonee, cross-country, etc.) and bindings (specific for each kind of ski)
Lecture on safety, communications, navigation and cooking issues (fuel, tips, etc.)
Ski training trip to Mageroya Island’s Plateau. Bivouac on a frozen lake: practice on setting up camp on solid ice, building snow wallsas blizzard shelter, anti-bear fences, uses of the benzine stoves and general tips. It’s a great moment to watch Northern lights (Aurora Borealis).
Breakfast in the lake camp. Basic introduction to sails and power kites. Note: This is an orientative pratice – proper learning of kite-ski and sail-supported progression requires a full-time training course. Return to Honningvag.
Workshop on expedition food and nutrition, with a special attention to lyophilized products. Key factors and essential issues on specific nutrition for extreme cold environments. Logistics and practical questions when preparing food for expeditions. Cooking and tasting of assorted expedition food.
Sreening of Spitzbergen 2103 expedition video, by José Mijares. Open discussion.
Traverse on ski or snowshoes to North Cape (15km), across Mageroya’s plateau. Guided visit to North Cape facilities. Arrival certificates will be provided to all participants. Champagne toast by “the ball”. Return to Honningsvag by bus.
Workshop on polar dragging sledges (pulks): contents, distribution, materials, etc. Dragging techniques and methods, on skis, sails or/and snowshoes. Travelling with dogs.
Patagonian Northern Ice Cap traverse photo exhibition, by José Mijares. Open discussion.
Visit to fishing villages on Mageroya island: Kamoyvaer, Skarsvag and Honningsvag
“Getting your expedition ready”. Ideas and tips to organize your own trip to Lapland, Svalbard, Patagonia, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, etc.
Farewell biers at the village’s pub!
Reliable airlines flying to northern Norway are: Sas, Norwegian and Wideroe The latter operates a local flight to Honningsvag, although the usual itinerary comprises a flight to Oslo-Gardermoen, then a second, local flight to Alta and finally a bus trip to Honningsvag, operated by boreal.no
Photos: Roberto Iván Cano