By Teemu Virtanen
The saga of courage, perseverance and passion continues in the arctic wilderness
Polar bears didn’t hinder their progress, but hunger made the journey quite intolerable on many occasions. According to Jørgen, they went into a catabolic state as their bodies ran out of power.
“We kept going with high speed and intensity, and our fat burning wasn’t simply strong enough. The feeling of that comes from insufficient energy intake and defective fat burning wasn’t really much fun! I know that we should have taken it a bit slower, but that’s not our style. Our motto is to make it or break it!”
“Our daily routine was quite simple. We woke up, drank some energy drinks with proteins and hopped on our skis. That process took about 30 minutes. Then we proceeded with fast pace for an hour, after which we had a three-minute break. And we kept doing that for 15 to 18 hours.”
“When the daily skiing was done, we set up our tent, melt some snow so that we could get about 20 liters of warm water, which we put into camelbacks and placed them into our sleeping bags to keep us warm during the night. Naturally, we ate some food before going to bed.”
This may sound like a nice camping trip, but it was certainly no walk in the park for the team. Their one-layered tent housed three people, and they had to sleep on a thin mat on cold snow. Their heating system for their sleeping bags started to collapse after awhile, and they had to bid adieu to warmth and comfort for the rest of their trip.
“We had to put our feet into each other’s sleeping bags so that we wouldn’t freeze to death,” Jørgen reminisces about the hardship they endured on their journey. “We’ve never done anything like this before. We were totally left on our own devices when out there in the middle of nowhere.”
There is a pause for dramatic effect before Jørgen continues with his memoir.
“When you are out there by yourself, there are no doctors to check you up, no check points for resting, no outside help when you need some. When we were in the eye of the storm, the wind blew so heavily, more than 30 meters per second. We really felt the power of the storm, and we realized that the key to our survival was the total respect of the nature around us.”
“Mentally speaking, it was really hard to stay awake and keep our focus steady. We all went through various phases where we hallucinated and started to see figures and weird creatures moving around. And not just that, but we fell asleep while skiing, felt like going uphill even if we stayed on flat, got apathetic and numb. We were certainly in a zone of our own!”
When we are going through an extreme challenge or endeavor in our lives, we tend to come out enlightened when surviving the ordeal. So did the brothers and their companions. Their take on life has now a deeper meaning after their Greenland ride.
“Even if we didn’t break the record, we felt that whole experience has made us much stronger,” Jørgen acknowledges without hesitation. “All the things that we experienced, like the feeling of being totally exhausted and staying in our tent for 36 hours, have given us a new perspective on life and prepared us to feel more secure. We now know what things are important in life. As a human being, you grow and reach a better level of existence when going through something like we did.”
The team finished their expedition after seven days and 11 hours on the glacier. One of the team members, Egil Nielsen, got frostbites on his thumbs, and for a while there was a serious risk of losing them both.
At the end of the trip, the team faced another challenge as they only had a two-hour window to leave Greenland. They were able to hitch a helicopter ride just in time before another storm arrived.
“That was bit scary as we would have had to stay there for four more days if we hadn’t made it within the time window. And that would have been a disaster because we didn’t have any more food left and no fuel to melt the snow. That just makes you realize how unpredictable life can be.”
Jørgen’s comment is totally right as life sometimes has a twisted way of throwing curve balls at us, but then again, that’s what makes it so much fun. Perhaps, the Aukland brothers’ Greenland saga can inspire us all and give us the boost we need when facing challenges or hardships in our lives.
The new Visma Ski Classics season has started, and there are 10 exciting races left in the tour. One of them is a new race in Switzerland, Engadin Ski Marathon. To wrap things up, it makes sense to ask Jørgen about his team’s goals for the new season.
“We are extremely excited about seeing skating races in Visma Ski Classics. Engadin is a beautiful race with a great history behind it. It’s a good start and hopefully we’ll see more skating events in the mix. As far as the new season goes, it is important for us to stay sharp and healthy in January since we’ll have five consecutive races in that month. We were really strong in the end of the season last winter, which means that we need to work harder to repeat the feat next season.”
Sounds good! I believe that the house that the Aukland brothers built will not falter come the new season even if Livingo was a nightmare for them. Are there any last words to leave our readers with? Well, it goes without saying that Jørgen has no need to shy away when discussing excellence within his team.
“We expect total World Domination! And our new skier Joar Thele will hopefully take some steps towards greatness. We aim for the yellow, green, lumberjack, youth and team bibs. But we are also humble enough to know that our rivals will give us a hard fight all the way. We can’t wait to enter the new year!”
While enjoying your hearty Christmas dinner, you can digest your food by checking more information on the expedition at www.auklandmetoden.no.