GUIDED SKI & SPLITBOARD EXPEDITION
The Arctic. At 74 to 81º North, the Svalbard archipelago is located above the Arctic Circle, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. There isn’t a word describing Svalbard that we don’t love: remote, unknown, extreme, mountainous, cold. Polar bears outnumber the human population, reindeer is on the menu of restaurants in town, and the only way to access and explore the vast glaciated wilderness during the winter is by snowmobile, dog sled, or skis.
Come spring the frigid temperatures of the arctic winter begin to ease up and it’s prime riding season on Svalbard. Starting in mid-April each year the islands experience 24-hour daylight known as the midnight sun, allowing for shredding around the clock. With the sun hovering low on the horizon but never dipping below, the peaks that surround our glacial basecamp are bathed in stunning golden hour light conditions day and night.
AVAILABILITY & REQUIREMENTS
Participants must be advanced to expert level skiers or snowboarders. Participation does not require formal avalanche safety certification or previous glacier travel experience, but basic ski mountaineering experience - such as climbing in boot crampons and using an ice axe - is required.
Splitboards are required for snowboarders. All participants must provide personal touring gear and avalanche safety tools (transceiver, probe, shovel), as well as glacier travel and mountaineering tools such as a harness, crampons and ice axe. Clothing and sleeping bags/pads to insulate and protect against the arctic cold will be critical. We will distribute a mandatory gear list closer to the expedition start date.
Participants must be in excellent physical condition.
APRIL 23-MAY 1
In late April 2018 we are offering a 9-day guided ski and splitboard expedition to one of Svalbard's most spectacular locations: Nordenskiöld Land National Park, on the largest island of Spitsbergen.
Following an initial prep day and night in the world's northernmost city, Longyearbyen, we will load up the snowmobiles and sledges and head south. The ~3-hour snowmobile journey winds its way through glacially-carved valleys, past distant reindeer herds, and onto the massive Vestre Grønfjordbreane and Fridtjovbreen Glaciers before arriving at our final destination beneath two of the most aesthetic peaks in the zone. Whereas most winter tourist visits to Svalbard involve only snowmobiling, that's just the beginning for us. Upon reaching our destination, we will spend the afternoon setting up a styled-out basecamp - home for the next 7 days - and then attack our first of many lines under the midnight sun.
The two peaks flanking camp are slotted with couloirs, perfectly illuminated by the morning light on one side and the midnight sun on the other. Neighboring valleys also provide objectives that have never before been ridden, and are perfect for days we feel like getting our tour on. After a week of human-powered shredding we will be met by the snowmobiles and head back towards civilization.
As words just don't do it justice, be sure to scope the photos we've posted using the #svalgnar2018 hashtag on Instagram and Facebook, as well as the full Svalbard photo gallery from our inaugural expedition in 2015!
We will feature a 2:3 guide-to-client ratio with 4 guides total: 2 ski/splitboard guides and 2 polar guides/camp cooks. Legendary Ski Mountaineer Ptor Spricenieks will Lead Guide with 40 Tribes’ Founder & Director Ryan Koupal as Tail Guide. Ryan personally scouted the location in 2013, and tail guided our inaugural expedition to the zone in 2015. Meet our guide team.
For polar guides and logistics support we will be working with a Longyearbyen-based company with extensive experience supporting logistically-complicated expeditions and productions all over Svalbard.
CAMP SETUP & SAFETY
The Arctic is no place for a weak camp setup. Our basecamp will feature a spacious and super comfortable kitchen/dining/chilling tent, heated by paraffin stove, along with separate 4-season sleeping tents.
Svalbard’s geography and climate may be fully unsuited for growing food, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to eat well. Breakfasts and dinners will be prepared from scratch and served hot by our camp guides. For lunches we’ll dig into expedition-style meals on the glacier at the bottom of a line, or back at camp if shredding nearby. There will also be plenty of snacks available at all times. For serious coffee drinkers, we should mention that we are too!
POLAR BEAR SAFETY
Polar bears separate Svalbard from other mountainous regions of the world. Our transport and camp guides take this danger very seriously. We will be equipped with trip wire systems, flare guns, and large game hunting rifles at all times. If deemed necessary due to bear sightings in the area, the entire expedition crew will share in a polar bear watch rotation that allows for an uninterrupted night’s sleep every other night.
ADDITIONAL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
We will be supported by Norwegian Search and Rescue coverage (included in trip cost) and will have satellite phone communication with emergency service providers based in Longyearbyen. Norwegian SAR is some of the most advanced in the world and boasts Super Puma and Sea King helicopters that can fly in the most challenging conditions.
7 DAYS RIDING/9 DAYS TOTAL
Participants will need to arrive in Longyearbyen (airport code LYR) as early as possible on April 23. We will return to Longyearbyen by evening on April 30 for departures on (or after) May 1. Due to the annual Svalbard Ski Marathon, a hugely popular cross-country race that will take place in Longyearbyen on April 28, it is advised that you book your flights as early as possible. Our plan is to be out at basecamp while the madness of the Ski Marathon ensues in Longyearbyen.
40 Tribes Lead and Tail Guides; Polar guides/camp cooks; Airport transfers on Apr 23 and May 1; 2 nights hotel accommodation in Longyearbyen (Apr 23 and 30); Snowmobile transport between Longyearbyen and the basecamp location; 6 nights basecamp accommodation in 4-season sleeping tents with a separate kitchen/dining tent heated by paraffin stove; Made-from-scratch meals, coffee and snacks at camp; Polar bear protection managed by local guides; Norwegian Search and Rescue coverage for emergency support/evacuation to Longyearbyen/Tromsø; 7 days of epic guided skiing/splitboarding!
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE
Airfare and baggage fees; Medical/evacuation insurance (for onward emergency transport from Longyearben/Tromsø, if required); Meals in Longyearbyen; Alcohol; Tips for guides.
A 20% deposit is required to secure your spot, with the remainder due 4 months prior to the expedition start date.