Upcoming Event - Crossing Europe's Largest Glacier

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Feb 21, 2019

News just in of some fantastic mountain medicine CPD! Here's Jiske Steensma to explain...

Remote Medicine On Ice - Crossing Europe's Largest Glacier

Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in continental Europe, covering almost 500 square kilometres of ice. This amount of ice is rapidly declining and before the glacier entirely disappears we would love to take you — maximum 25 people — on a skitour across it. 

For those who are well trained and wisely packed, this mini-expedition on ‘Norway’s roof’ takes 3 days. It is a physically challenging trip, but your muscle aches will be soothed in the outdoor jacuzzi of the lodge we will be using at the beginning and end of our trip!

Our aim is to make this a CPD* accredited experience of a lifetime — not only focusing on ‘Friluftsliv’ (English translation - "outdoors") and ‘How To Safely Cross Josten’, but also educating ourselves on remote medicine with the help of some seriously inspirational speakers. 

We'll meet up on Saturday 18th May 2019 at Bergen Airport for onward travel by minibus to Lunde. This includes a ferry crossing which gives us a good opportunity for lunch. We will arrive at Lunde in the afternoon. An interesting evening of lectures, a BBQ overlooking the fjord and a comfortable night in a 4 person cabin awaits us.

On Sunday another morning of presentations, lunch, then final pack-adjustments and it’s time to head off to Erdal (by minibus) and hike to the start of the glacier for our first camp. This first camp is NOT on the ice, but in the field surrounding Vetledalseter. There will be a stream to get water from.


On Monday we will hike up to Erdalsbreen where we first put on our skis. We’ll ski to Småttene for lunch, from where we rope up to cross the crevasses and move up onto the glacierplateau. We will then ski to Lodalskåpa or further to Brenibba to set up camp. Altogether it will be a fairly long day with a hard climb, in return we’ll have covered most of the ascent and with some luck we can enjoy an amazing sunset from our tents.

The next day is along the glacier plateau and in good weather we should have a fantastic view to the fjords of Jostedalsbreen National Park. We will go past ‘Høgste Breakulen’ (the highest point of the glacier at 1957m), have lunch around Kvitekoll and then continue to Bings Gryte — a fascinating wind phenomenon where the glacier is at its narrowest. We will camp either at Bings Gryte or a little further near Supphellenipa.

Bings Gryte

On Wednesday we will get an early start to get off the glacier. Most of this day is downwards which sounds easy but may be tricky on icy terrain or in clouds. After the morning descent we can take off our skis at Flatbrehytta. We will hike the last kilometers to Fjærlandsfjord, a steep downhill into a green fertile spring. The minibus brings us back to Lunde where we celebrate our achievements with a copious meal and relax our muscles in the outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the fjord. On Thursday we wrap up and travel back home. Or you can decide to stay the weekend and explore Bergen…


Can I do it?

You will need to be in good shape to undertake this trip.

The walk on Sunday evening into Vetledalseter is easy, about 2 hours.

We will be moving for approximately 10 hours per day on the Monday and Tuesday. This will all depend upon teamwork, stamina and individual fitness — in 2018 we were with an inexperienced group with a few ‘less fit’ people. As a consequence the trip took us 14 hours per day.

The last day will take about 5 hours and we aim to be down around midday and back at Lunde before 1400.

Everything is weather dependent. In bad weather the days will be longer, colder and harder. In case of unusually bad weather we may have to spend another day on the glacier - we will do everything to prevent that but obviously cannot influence the weather gods!

If you believe you are fit enough to do the hike, but realise on the trip that you should have trained more there is one option to turn around and that is at Småttene, before we rope up to get onto the glacier plateau. You can opt to go back there and return to sleep at Vetledalseter, but once on the plateau there is no easy way out, really! The return trip from Småttene back to Vetledalseter will likely be without a guide and at your own risk.

If you have never skied it is unwise to do this trip!

If you have never crosscountry skied but you are a good skier and have experience telemarking, you will probably be just fine!

If you can crosscountry ski, wonderful! Get practice carrying a heavy rucksack.

If you pack well and the weather forecast is good, you will be carrying approx 16-17kg (60-70L). If you like luxury, you can bring more, as long as you are able to carry it (and after you have offered to take the rope). Everyone should aim to carry less than 20kg.


Accommodation in Lunde

Price: 600 Euro

This includes transport to and from Bergen (including ferry crossing), transport to and from the glacier, lectures*, guides, lodging at Lunde on the 18th and 22nd May (including bedding and towel), welcome dinner, farewell BBQ, 2 x breakfast, 1 x packlunch, drinks and jacuzzi!


Sigurd Felde — mindset for big challenges. Sigurd is a widely experienced mountain leader (UIAGM / IFMGA) and one of Norway’s foremost rock climbers with an ascent of the Great Trango Tower in Pakistan on his list of ascents.

Simon Jeppesen — environmental awareness. Simon is program administrator at Bø’s Friluftsliv Høgskole, University College Southeast Norway. He teaches Nordic Backcountry Skiing and Outdoor Leadership, and in his free time enjoys nature photography. 

John Wilton Davies — preparation for a solo trip/approach to safety. John is a business consultant from Exeter. With little previous experience, he decided to undertake a solo trip to the South Pole in 2006.

Jiske Steensma — career diversification. Jiske is a paediatrics emergency medicine doctor with a special interest in remote and humanitarian medicine. She has been on missions to South Sudan and DRC with MSF, worked for British Explore in the Himalayas (DiMM) and supported dogsledding trips in Norway.

Ross Moy — trauma scenarios, prolonged field care. Lt Col Moy is an emergency medicine consultant in the British Army and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. He also works with the Thames Valley Air Ambulance as a Pre-Hospital Care Physician.

Martin Rhodes — medical kit for cold environment. Martin is a wild wilderness medicine specialist with a wealth of expedition experience. In between other jobs he is chief medic for Antarctic Logistics And Expeditions.

Rutger Mollee — speak to inspire. Rutger is a performer, presentation coach, moderator, part-time comedian and so much more…


1. Do not leave any gear hanging outside your rucksack, in particular not essentials eg your tent or sleeping bag - it will fall off and when it falls down the mountain that’s your trip done!

2. Build a snow wall. Or your tent might blow away with you inside it.. (ask Simon or Jiske).

3. Dry your gear on your thighs/in your groin/on your tummy/in your armpits whilst you are sleeping

4. Brush off your skiboots and take them inside the tent so they are not iced in the morning

5. Start melting snow asap when in your tent, before you sleep and as soon you wake up. Aim to drink at least 2.5 litres per day.

6. Set your alarm early when on the glacier. You will need about 1.5 hours to get ready for takeoff.

7. Anticipate having wet feet. Best to set your mind to it in advance and to just accept.

8. Nothing beats a good tent coffee!

Any questions please email me - jiskesteensma@hotmail.com

*An application for 10 hours of CPD is pending.

Have something to say? Comment on this post