Dixie Dansercoer is a Belgian polar explorer that specializes in polar travel and expeditions. He is also one of the certified guides who offer adventure trips at Explore-Share.com in the Arctic region. Below, he shares his experience and the trips he offers to explore this stunning and remote location with a focus on Greenland and Lake Baikal in Russia.
When on an expedition to the Arctic, our subconscious mind records deep impressions, and when back at home, endless memories can lead to sudden flashbacks that paint a smile on your face. That is … when you allow the Polar bug to take a hold of you!
It is a love-hate affair. Yes, the cold is always present and needs to be approached in a smart way. However, for most participants and first-time polar explorers, it is not the discomfort of the cold that represents the biggest hurdle because there are many tips & tricks that allow us to be more cold-resistant.
As with so many things in life, solid preparation allows us to better understand the true nature of the unknown, helps us prevent chaos and puts us more at ease when adopting a preventative attitude. And with that, your Polar Experience will enrich you in ways you never thought possible!
In this anthology of the Northern frozen places of our Earth, we will focus on 2 of my favorite destinations: Greenland and Lake Baikal.
The hub & spoke airport in Greenland is in Kangerlussuaq, from where all of the towns and settlements can be reached with connecting flights to the East, South, and North. With Polar Experience, we base out of this Inuit town that caters to both the transitory tourists and intrepid polar travelers. A permanent stock of expedition equipment allows us to design the following trips:
This 8-day ski & sled-pulling expedition from Kangerlussuaq to Sissimiut covers a distance of 160 km and ends at a quaint little fishing town on the west coast.
We consider this trip a Level 2 expedition, and thus a step up from the preparatory expedition in Spitsbergen. This is because the Arctic Circle Trail is longer in time and distance, participants are on skis and the location of Greenland imposes a deep immersion in winter temperatures. People who already have experience in winter camping or mountaineers who have broad experience in all outdoor aspects are welcome to join and skip the Level 1 expedition.
The huts along the way are a welcome sign of humanity and allow for ‘some’ warming up, but since there is not always enough place for all of the members of the group to sleep inside and the expedition is done in ‘autonomy’, the sleds are loaded with all the necessary camping gear.
The classic ‘Crossing of the ice cap’ expedition covers a distance of roughly 600 km from West to East Greenland and ends in the town of Isertoq, from where you will fly back home from Kulusuk.
We did not hesitate to classify this crossing as a Level 3 expedition since you will be experiencing a wide variety of conditions with crevassed terrain at the edges of the ice cap requiring a solid 3 days of ascent/descent, and weather conditions that can range from blissfully calm to wild storms that force the team to hunker down and wait. Skiing approximately 6 to 7 hours each day requires solid physical preparation and even more importantly mental hardiness that puts participants in a good place when things get rough but also invites everyone to be a great team player.
Trail runners who are ready for something different will love these polar running expeditions! We have developed a unique concept of running in the rawest nature possible, in an atmosphere that is truly Arctic and ending with a run on the second largest ice cap on Earth. These Polar Running Expeditions provide the logistics, camps, guides and safety back-ups to let you experience the pristine nature of the Polar environment in a truly unique way.
Unlike the typical trail running competitions or trips, the itinerary is customized and may change according to weather, which makes it a true expedition with unforeseen events that the guides are prepared to embrace. The logistics team offers enough flexibility to adapt where necessary, all while making safety a top priority.
Needless to say, the draw of this Greenlandic running adventure is the imposing ice cap that lures runners to come and experience the grandeur of an enormous ice expanse. The last camp is set up on the slopes of this ice labyrinth and the highlight of this exchange with frozen Mother Nature is a circular ice run. Unforgettable!
When I first scouted Lake Baikal for a 10-day expedition from the south of the lake to the island of Olk’hon, I was simply amazed at the aesthetic beauty of this enormous body of freshwater that freezes solid in the winter months. Imagine a pitch-dark frozen abyss that makes you doubt the solidity – when in fact, the ice is more than 2 meters thick, with cars and hovercraft plying between the towns. Nevertheless, the ice remains dynamic with the expansion and retraction due to the variation in temperature. I cannot properly describe the symphony of cracking, thundering, screeching sounds that entertain us when dealing with the evening chores in the tent!
Typically, there is no snow on the southern part of Lake Baikal, allowing steady progress and a brisk pace on foot with small crampons to have a good grip on the slippery ice. The 190 km distance seems like a lot, but with such flat terrain, it is not hard to stick to daily distances of around 25 km.
We will hug the shoreline or walk more towards the center of the lake to see the variety of colors and shapes of the ice, but the most magnificent discoveries will come from the moving ice that allows oxygen to seep into it, creating an endless variety of fine sculptures, entering the ice at various depths and designing random figures or the typical circular shapes.
I cannot but praise the friendliness of the few local people that we will meet on the way, as they are always willing to help or accommodate, even though the language barrier must sometimes be replaced by sign language. We have learned many things from these fine conversations, including that the people are proud of the many freshwater seals that live in the lake but that you must be lucky to see one, and that many a secret of this grand lake is well-kept by the shamans who have a long history there. It is the most mystic Polar environment I have traveled to and would love to share it with you!
Explore the world’s unique polar landscapes with certified guide Dixie Dansercoer and revel at the magical views and wilderness of the Arctic region!
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