Five Icelanders, led by the accomplished mountaineer Leifur Örn Svavarsson, have completed a 1,300 km (808 mi) trek across the Greenland ice cap, reports RÚV.
“I don’t think it’s has been done on foot before,” Leifur Örn said in a radio interview on Rás 2 yesterday morning. The team’s route ran between Scoresby Sund sound, a large fjord system on the eastern coast of Greenland, and the town Tasiilak (Angmagssalik), located 1,300 km farther south on the southeast coast. “It took us about a month,” he explained, “but in the beginning, it actually looked like it could take considerably longer. We had sails of various sizes, in fact, so that we could use the wind to propel us forward. But for the first two weeks, if there was any wind, it was going against us.”
Leifur Örn was the first Icelander to climb Mt. Everest, which he did in May 2013 via the North Col route. He completed the Greenland trek with Hallgrímur Magnússon and Einar Stefánsson, who have also climbed Everest, as well as Tómas Júlíusson and Skúli Magnússon. They started their journey on dog sleds, but ended up walking for the first two weeks.
“Scoresby Sund can be wide-open at this time [of year] which can make for a risky journey—there are polar bears and things like that. We had three experts in the area with us—locals, hunters—who went across the sound with us.”
The Greenlandic guides took care of food for the group for the first few days, bringing them fresh polar bear meat, among other things. “It was a fun journey, traveling with those guys,” said Leifur Örn, although he admitted that at first, the group had some concern about whether they’d be able to finish the trek.
“Those first days were terribly slow and we had started to think about how long it could take and whether we would have enough food and supplies to complete the journey. Then the sun started to shine and it all went well in the end,” he said.