Mission complete for our 2020 Arctic Tri-Nation Challenge. Eight days of Arctic wilderness adventure by snowshoe, dogsled and kayak. Mentally challenging, physically gruelling, culturally exciting. Here’s what went down on the frozen tundra between Norway, Finland and Sweden…
Snowshoeing deep in the Arctic Circle makes you feel like a polar explorer. The vast swathes of frozen snow and ice, the chromatic colours of a sun that never rises and hauling everything you need on a sled, connects you to the ice-bound landscape like nothing else.
Making the uncomfortable your new comfortable is all part of the experience. Temperatures as low as -30c, are enough to make your teeth fall out.
Breathing produces vapour – vapour hits a solid surface – surface turns to ice. It’s a simple equation when you’re mid-winter at 70º north.
The deafening silence of the Arctic winter is a sound to behold. There’s no sign of life for miles around, bar the footprints of a random Arctic Hare, Fox or Abominable Snowman.
It’s never a guarantee but when they do appear, witnessing the Northern Lights is one of the most belittling, exhilarating experiences you can witness as a resident of Planet Earth.
Always keep moving to stay warm, but never get hot. Sweat is your Number One enemy in the Arctic Circle so lunch stops are about building a shelter, preparing your meal, rehydrating with hot fluids and then moving on before the cold takes hold.
Rotating the lead every 20 minutes preserves the energy of the entire group. The toughest job of breaking the snowpack falls to the person up front, it’s half as tough for the person behind them and so on. Once you’ve done your time leading, simply move to the side and join the rear….you’ve earnt your rest.
Gappahytta – our destination at the end of Day One after climbing 900m in elevation over 12kms. We arrive in pitch black conditions with the distant reflectors on the hut door guiding us the final few hundred metres. It’s a big first day, but the rewards are worth it. A safe hut, hot food, a comfy bed, a shot of the local good stuff and hopefully an appearance overhead from the Aurora Borealis.
How do you prepare for a 50km dogsled adventure? Get on, check where your feet go, test the brakes and hold on – mush mush!
So close but not quite. The sun is two days away from breaking the horizon for the first time in over two months. January 21st is the official Day of the Sun and is celebrated with solboller or Little Sun Buns – doughnuts filled with Scandanavian goodness!
Best way to recuperate an exhausted body at the end of a long day? Adopt the Finnish method – sauna at 40ºc, then dash outside across the snow to an ice-hole in the lake, submerge to the neck…and repeat. Yeooowwww it feels good! The current Best Life Adventures record stands at 3:02 minutes in the ice.
After three days on the ice, our Tri-Nation Arctic Challenge arrives at the nexus of three countries – Norway, Finland and Sweden. It’s well worth stopping for the photo.
The challenging landscape and physical hardships during the adventure produce struggles and smiles in equal quantity, and the personal belief and resilience that grow from completing the expedition are infinitely rewarding.
Encased in thick woollen mittens, a full drysuit and rubber boots there’s no such thing as bad weather. We take to the water in kayaks to search out seals, orcas and humpback whales in the fjords offshore from Tromsø.
There are limited places on our 2021 Extreme Dreams: Tri-Nation Arctic Challenge and we’d love you to be part of it. If you’ve always wanted to explore a totally alien part of the world with a team of like-minded adventurous souls get on board now. It’s bloody crazy but awesome fun too. Register your interest here.
To give you more of a taste of what makes this an Extreme Dreams expedition, check out this video compiled by one of our 2020 Tri-Nations Arctic Challenge Expedition Members, Timothy Laycock: