World First unsupported WINTER Full Crossing

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    Based on:
    As no one has yet replied to me, I open here a discussion to this question:
    Has anyone group or solo, done this with ALL these parameters:

    A) Full Max crossing coast to coast = 1) From Top North to top South=extreme latitudes (or reverse) OR 2) From Far West to Far East=extreme longitudes (or reverse)
    B) WINTER = From 1 December to 28/29 February. Start and end dates of the expedition between these dates.
    C) UN-SUPPORTED = no resupply underway of food, gas, exchange of gear / no preplaced fooddrops / no use of HUTS / no use of kites-sails.
    This is just a summary f my question asked here:

    I think no one did.

    So the answer to my question is YES or NO.
    If YES, then happy to know who did it and when 🙂
    Comments welcome of course if constructive.

    * I don’t want to read comments like “don’t do it” or “you stupid” or “why”
    * NO, March and April are not Winter. If SNOW=winter, then you still have winter in July. I consider winter based on calendar. Ideally to comply with the “other definition of winter “21 dec to 21 March”, to comply with all winter definitions, the winter could be considered 21 dec to 28 Feb.
    * GPS, SatPhones are somehow considered “support”. Then take the definition “self-sufficient from the start=having all equipment/food/supplies with you from the start of the expedition”. + not use man-made shelters + not use wind force, only human power. A GPS is a tool telling you where you are, modern technology, like now people use more efficient gas stoves or skis compared to make fire with wood and walking with snowshoes made with animal skin and bent wood branches.


    Iceland has been crossed coast to coast N-S, E_W, NE-SW, NW-SE on skis. All groups have used bridges and existing infrastructure where that was logical. Somehow I have the feeling that those who did not speak English as a first language fared in general a little better on those crossings (they were better skiers).
    No-one has bothered weather they stored or bought food&fuel along the way, -after all substantial parts of the coast to coast routes are inhabited.
    The only “coast to coast and across the highland” crossings in the dead of winter have been done with 4×4 on low pressure tires, -not skis.
    The first coast to coast ski crossing were done a long time ago and I don´t know of anyone that has listed it up. This is old news and has been below radar for a long time.
    In dead of winter there is usually little snow, many rivers are open, weather is usually bad and days are short.

    If you plan to cross the interior highland on skis in dead of winter and are obsessed by doing that “unsupported” I recommend the following:

    -Do not inform anyone here about your plans. -If you are focused on survival, get info, permit and keys for all highland huts en route (-unsupported?).

    -Practice building and living in snow shelters made on flat land. -Remember that you can not count on snow for shelter at that time of year and you can expect extreme thawing in gale force wind and rain. Igloos are useless.

    -Tents have proven unreliable shelter for the worst winter storms.

    -Sturdy shovel, wool and 100% waterproof fisherman bibs and jacket is the cheapest live insurance. You can expect gale force winds and rain&sleet for days.

    -Use satellite tracking observed from UK only.

    -Don´t call for assistance and don´t expect assistance.

    -If you call for help, -be insured.

    I wish you good luck for that project but I guess most locals don´t want to hear about it until you finish the tour. There have been to many blunders of this type in recent years.
    Remember that “good luck” in Scandinavian expedition history is directly linked to good preparation and experience.


    One question. What do you base your winter definition on? Why does that definition apply to Iceland?

    This year winter in Iceland is from October 24. to 21. April by the old Icelandic. That’s because in the old norse calender we only used two seasons, summer and winter.

    I’m not sure if anyone has done this by your definition, but even though it might now be well documented doesn’t mean nobody did it. Within your time frame and definitions, probably unlikely. But you can always define your way into a first of course.

    Best of luck. ICE-SAR will of course pick you up if you get into trouble you can not solve. And I assume you will do your utmost to solve stuff by yourself by the way you write.

    But it would be prudent if you had some way, insurance or other, to at least cover costs if you need a rescue. We do all the fund-raising by ourselves and rescues like this are costly. And I really hate working on security on football matches, so please don’t force us to take on more of those 🙂

    Have fun, stay safe, and do a picture show for ISALP when you get back into Reykjavík.



    A bit more info. I’ve been interested and had this concept of crossing Iceland in the Winter since 2009. I started doing my research by then. I’m 100% confident I have covered the expeditions done by “English” speaking people. So what’s left is Icelandic/Scandinavian. (The chance someone from Africa, South America or Asia came to Iceland to cross it in the winter is zero. It’s arrogant to say it this way but we all know rather “poorer” countries on the planet have less adventurers and “cold/polar/ski-type expeditions are expensive.
    I have an Icelandic friend, ex-president of ISALP. He told me in 2010 when I came to Iceland for the summer crossing he was confident no one did it (see above again for requirements of the “record”)

    My opinion why no one did it is simple:
    * The big adventurer countries like the UK, France, Poland, USA, Canada, Norway ==> focus on polar expeditions to the classic: Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland. Iceland is “so” small they don’t think about crossing it and believe it is easy to cross, so it must have been done before.
    * Icelanders: You are in your backyard and most of you find the pleasure, like Scandinavians, in going outdoors and ski trips for the fun. If someone wants something very hard, you go to the SP, NP or the Himalayas…
    * The definitions: You and I and all of Icelanders know that Iceland has been crossed many times. But from coast to coast, then it’s perhaps 5-10% of the crossings or less. Why, because the ring road is rather a little inland several kms away from the coast (logistics) and of course it’s not interesting to finish skiing and then walk several kms on the ash or beach. Rather pointless as we all know you can do it.

    Since the 80ties arrived the more sportive expeditions (especially in climbing) with the new parameter of beating records: new harder ascents, more technically difficult, free solo, and all speed records… and especially after 2000, the records starts everywhere in other disciplines: faster to row an Ocean, faster to climb on the Everest,… as you know there are so many “invented” records done every year on the Everest: 1st from each country, 1st with a disease, first in couple, father and son, twins…it has it all.

    In +8000m mountaineering, only a few of the 14 summits have been reached during the winter time. This means the adventurers are looking for “the hardest” challenge possible. The challenge must have some meaning of course and be widely “accepted” by the public/press/other adventurers.
    Example of stupid hard challenge : climbing Everest in Tennis shoes. (Yes someone tried this)

    So What would be “the” hardest challenge possible in Iceland that would be perceived as “the hardest” and with a meaning.
    A meaning for me and other adventurers (like the 4 Brits) is a full crossing, coast to coast when the start and end are VERY WELL defined. There are millions of ways to cross Iceland coast to coast.

    * AKUREYI to HUSAVIK is of course a coast to coast by not a major meaningful crossing. Why? It’s possible to find way longer and harder.
    ==> This is why the concept of doing the longest possible crossing (flying distance between start and end) adds to the challenge.
    If I take Italy, well I can cycle across Italy in 1 day…if done East-West…but if done North-South it’s another story. If done between the furthest point North in the Alps, to the furthest points South, then we have la longest crossing of Italy.

    For Iceland, I see 3 MAJOR MEANINGFUL crossings (and the Brits too)
    1) Between the extreme latitudes (N-S), 2) between the longitudes (done by Brits in 1994 with support, not winter even if they claim so as they did it in March-April), and 3) the diagonal, which in the case of Iceland is the same as (2) // For Belgium, my home country, well we have a possibility to have 3 crossings depending on there geographical border-to-border crossings.

    To REPLY to your question of winter.
    Indeed, there are many different definitions on what is winter on the planet. Even the year start is different (Chinese new year not the same as the Western world).
    The question is: What definition (dates) of the WINTER would “qualify” to most people (the public) on the planet, the press and the general adventure community to be considered the hardest ?

    I had the debate by email with Charlie (Brit team leader) in May 2015 (he had not announced the FULL N-S crossing at that time, he mentioned a start from Akureyi).
    What I learnt from school was winter = 21 dec to 21 March.
    He told me the Brits Alpinism consider winter 1 dec to 1 March. And I agreed it was a better definition as “harder” especially more darkness in December.

    ==> I had NO CLUE the 4 Brits would then attempt what I still believe (99,99% confident) is a world first. The full crossing, in the winter. And on top of that unsupported and of course by human power only (no kites, no cars).

    WilL I made an attempt one day? I hope so. Solo ? I’ve done a lot solo when it’s hard and it’s the way I do things.
    Why didn’t I do it yet ? Like the Brits, I could just buy skis and find a few sponsors to get gear and make an attempt.
    But I was made aware in 2010 of the 2 big problems of the Icelandic weather conditions in the winter : a) storms frequent = destroy the tent + b) warm weather = precipitations =rain, not snow.

    Of course it is possible to succeed the way the 4 Brits started, but preparations and training won’t replace the LUCK to have NO STORMS and SUPER EASY and NICE snow and weather conditions.
    So, I’m still not ready as I have an idea to stay safe when I have problem a and b. But it costs money as the idea is to build a liveable sled (named Is-Snigill) that would resist 250km/h winds and perhaps several hundreds of kg of snow. My way would be a SLOW but SAFE crossing attempt. Perhaps it would take 45-60 days.
    It is a complete different approach. And this prototype will need testing. So I’m not there yet 🙂

    PS: And I need also to test crossing Jokulsa a Fjollum swimming! as I don’t want to use bridges to make the purest/hardest crossing of Iceland, with a simple purpose: LEARN how long it is possible to stay in there while progressing. Using huts = fail = start again. FAIL is OK if I stay alive and do not need to ask for a rescue.
    I failed already a few mountain climbs or a desert crossing. I just like the challenge and want to learn.

    And of course, I do not need to mention I ready to take the risks, adventurers and the Navigators 500 years ago and the polar explorers 125 years ago took deadly risks with no back-up and non-existing rescue. The modern days has me one advantage, rescue is usually possible and depends on money/insurance and decreasing the risk of the rescuers.


    Hi, I red that you have the rout data from The Coldest Crossing and that you could be contacted through email if someone is interested in it.
    I am very interested but I cant’t find you email address anywhere. If you could contact me that would be very appreciated. This is my facebook page, if you could messasge me there, or send me an email to Thanks.

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