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A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to guide five fabulous people across the Finnsmarkvidda Plateau. I joined the  guiding team alongside the incredible Liv Engholm. Liv literally moves mountains and is an incredible person (and friend) to work with. I teamed up with her and her company Turgleder to make this life changing expedition happen. The famous Sno joined us too, see below!


The expedition team was primarily made up with those who had no ski, Arctic or expedition experience (except one person, Will whom although being Australian, has tackled the Arctic on a separate trip with me once before).

I could tell from the get go that everyone was eager and happy to be there. There was pure excitement with a little dash of healthy nerves. I was thrilled that the energy and enthusiasm that the team had shown when I had initially put the advert up and when they had applied, was still alive and well even now they had landed fully in the Arctic world.

Our first day on skis was a short one, it’s all about easing people into what they are about to take on.. Like anything. There’s no point on doing too much too soon.

Throwing people into the deep end into -35C conditions, camping and skiing can be pretty hard mentally (not to mention makes for harder work for Liv and I) so we skied a few hours and had our first night in a hut. The sky gods were in our favour that night because a freezing cold and clear night meant for fantastic Northern lights. It was a spectacular show to present the team on their first night of the expedition… Almost as if we had planned it (I wouldn’t have put it past Liv, the woman is a force of nature!)


The morning where we’d leave the comfort of a roof over our heads came and I was happy to hear that everyone was keen to get going.

Skiing on cross country skis with a pulk  is pretty straight forward but it’s making it efficient and getting the long strides that takes time. To make for learning all of this quicker, we had the morning following snow mobile tracks – these provide a hard surface that the skis can move across instead of making fresh trails.

It wasn’t long before we would leave these tracks once and for all and not catch up on them until the last day.

Our route was roughly mapped out but as with every year the conditions change and with it, so must our route. On this expedition we want to be miles away from any other possible being. The plateau is massive so we sort after the most wilderness route we could find. No tracks, no Sami reindeer herders, just us and the plateau.


We left the tracks, taking it in turns to break trail. Temperatures plummeted as the sun dropped and it wasn’t long before nostril hairs and eye lashes were frozen solid. Now we were in the elements and this continued for the duration of the expedition.


The first night is always going to be the hardest for the team but all put on brave faces as they realised just how cold it got when we were at rest (meaning rest never feels like real rest!). The beauty about the Arctic is that when you are pulking, you are generally warm - even if it means skiing with a down jacket. The body works wonders acting like an internal furnace. Sometimes it’s necessary to shake out the hands within mittens to get the blood into those pesky finger tips but for most of the travel, you are able to maintain a level of warmth.

It’s the time that you are not moving which is when management and discipline is key. There are endless Arctic secrets that one must follow in order to stop things escalating. Little tips and tricks like changing your day sweaty socks for dry ones and putting the day ones under your armpits for the night so that they don’t freeze and putting on your down jacket immediately once you stop even if you don’t feel you need it yet.

The Arctic is about the little things, get these under control and you can be comfortable. It was mine and Liv’s job to gradually teach the team these life savers without bombarding information all at once. This was something I enjoyed, handing out little gems of knowledge.

One memorable moment was day three. Liv and I had let the team go ahead and navigate. We had a high point on the plateau so that we could stay back but keep track of them.


Liv has years of guiding experience and looked at me and smiled. “Always day three” she said. I twigged on what she meant. The team were now in the flow of things. They were skiing well, they had got to grips with the camp routine and they were now navigating their way across the plateau. She explained how it takes this amount of time every trip for the team to get to this stage. I smiled back and we both looked at the team like proud parents!


The sun was shining, the sky was clear and the skiing conditions were perfect! Where better place to be!.. That’s not a question!

Later we found ourselves skiing in our down jackets, it had got bitterly Baltic but hey, the team was in good spirits and it appeared that they were in the frame of mind where they could take on anything.


This was then put to the test a few days later. It had been a windy night. I’m always half awake when sleeping in the tent, ready to jump out in case anything drastic happens. Being with Liv and guiding meant that I was even more ‘on call’.

I had checked the tent during the night, worried that we were getting trapped in snow drift from the strong gales but all had been well. I awoke early to Liv upright in her sleeping bag. She suggested we get up and start sorting the team’s breakfast early because of the conditions. I agreed and as she got out, I began to get ready. Then the wind changed direction… It was time to move now!

The team were in tunnel tents that work incredibly well when the wind is coming at them in one direction but not at 90 degrees from that. It was all hands on deck from then and there on as the tents were at risk of ripping or even blowing away. We had to get everyone’s stuff packed up whilst in a blizzard, trying not to lose anything. Then tents started to try and take off = not good. The tent is shelter, lose this and your buggered! Everyone worked quickly to get their items packed away and it took most of us to get each tent down.


The wind made for freezing temperatures. The temperature was already chilly but now I found my whole face mask and hat became an icicle.


 The wind and snow battered us making for impossible visibility. Saying that though, we worked together like a dream team and got the two tunnel tents packed up. I think the overall feeling once the wind died down and the dramatic event had stopped was adrenaline and euphoria! Everyone was super proud of each other. It’d been pretty gnarly but we’d go through it. Type 2 fun… One of the reasons doing this kind of thing is so great and rewarding! It felt pretty awesome to introduce this element of expeditions to the team AND they liked it… Fantastic! (I think they might be addicted now.)

The final day came and so did the trees

The final day came and so did the trees

When the expedition finish line was in sight, I could sense the team starting to reflect on what they had accomplished. I can’t tell you how great it felt to finish and feel that energy and pride everyone had. I honestly felt so incredibly proud myself, and this wasn’t pride for MYSELF, this was pride for THEM. It was a fresh way to take on expeditions for me personally.

The Arctic threw a lot at them but it was so clear to see how they had grown and now they truly knew they could achieve anything. And that’s the thing, we all can achieve anything if we put our mind to it and have the right guidance and direction. Sometimes it takes that push, that SEVERE push outside our comfort zones to remind us what we are capable of. I am pleased that I can be a part of this push.

Guiding this team; Laura, Alice, Steph, Marianne and Will with Liv was such a wonderful experience. They rocked it and it was wonderful to know that we are all able to kick butt if we have that desire to. I truly hope some lives were changed because I know that in a way, this guiding expedition changed mine. The Finnsmarkvidda Plateau delivered once again!


Clips from the Finnmark Plateau

Clips from the Finnmark Plateau

Last week I returned from a successful Finnmark plateau crossing. This is my third time on the plateau and it was a little different as this year I was guiding a team across from West to East along with Liv Engholm.

We took a new route from my previous expeditions, one which took us well into the heart of the remote, barren plateau.

Guiding was an incredible experience and I can’t tell you how great it was to see the team grow and get familiar with the Arctic environment.

I’d love to get my thoughts down on here properly and all the great challenges there were which I will indeed do soon.

I managed to get some of my immediate thoughts on camera and a random collection is below…. Yes, it was pretty chilly!!

Back to the Arctic... But on a budget

Back to the Arctic... But on a budget

We didn't have much time. KP works as a teacher so February half term was our only option after promising to one another after a glass of wine too many in December. I get a feeling about whether a trip is going to happen and I got it with this one so it happened. It's a gut feeling - is it worth it? Am I fully committed? I get this feeling because I'm the type of person who can't help but go full steam ahead on an idea that I fall in love with. 

So we made a cheers and a pinky promise to start our plans to go back to the Arctic and sure enough, the next day I had made the calls, planned the best dates and got our basic route figured out. It was on. 

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What 2018 holds

What 2018 holds

This year is already looking action packed and adventure filled. With the main event being the Highest Dinner Party on the North Col of Everest in May, there will be other trips going on that I look forward to telling you about.

Next month I’ll be jetting up North to the Arctic once again where myself and my good friend KP (Katherine Pears) will be doing a week long ski expedition on the cheap. It will be fun to share how Arctic expeds don’t have to eat away all your savings. I met KP on my first ever Arctic expedition in Svalbard 2011. We shared ten weeks together and a year after we completed the Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt). We have been talking about going back to the Arctic for years and as they always do, the decision was made and shook on after a few to many wines… Now’s the time, I can’t wait!

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My Top Kit Picks for the Cold

My Top Kit Picks for the Cold

We spend so much money and time trying to get the perfect kit to try and make a hard expedition that little bit easier or those photos a little more trendier.

Here's a couple of my top picks from my recent Denali expedition. 

Rab 1200 Expedition Sleeping Bag. Rating: -35C (RRP: £770)

A pretty penny indeed but this bag became my safety net. At first glance it seems over bulky but this is a brilliantly thought about feature. It's not heavy for the warmth it provides; weighing in at 1850g. 

Made for cold weather, it works best when wearing clothes otherwise there is too much empty space and in those temperatures you simply can't warm up. It has enough space for a full down suit just in case the temperatures get wildly life threatening. On a few EXTREMELY COLD nights on Denali and when up in the high Arctic in January, I had to wear my Rab Expedition down jacket inside it for the entire night. The combo worked together brilliantly and probably saved my life. The foot compartment is spacious enough to not only allow for big down booties to be worn inside but also so that you are able to fit the many objects you need to stop from freezing during the night. I put gas canisters, my liner boots, socks, gloves, water bottle, suncream, toothpaste, batteries and pee bottle inside. Somehow the bag's space means that you can still sleep comfortable even when sleeping amongst so many uncomfortable objects!! Other great features include the awesome hood (you can pull the cord so that only your mouth is exposed to the cold air) and the fact that because it is hydrophobic down, it drys quickly.

Every morning on Denali I would wake up with ice all over the area around my mouth on the bag and once the cooker is on this ice melts and wets the bag. However time has gone by and you've packed up for the day ahead the bag has pretty much dried itself so thankfully no packing away wet. Pretty neat. 

Páramo Torres Medio Insulated Jacket (RRP: £210)

For temperatures as cold as the Arctic or high altitude mountains, this jacket acted more of a mid layer than an outer layer which is what it is ultimately designer for. I didn't take this jacket off on Denali. I slept and climbed in it. It is surprisingly breathable considering it only has the main front zip for venting. At first I wasn't sure on the fit of it as it isn't exactly athletically fitted like it's competitor jackets but instead has a long, wider cut. This actually proved very practical because when climbing with hands above my head or pulling my sled, it wouldn't ride up meaning my torso was always kept warm. The hood is great at keeping the elements out and the feel of the jacket is very cosy and comfortable providing a little bit of luxury for hard environments.

I definitely recommend this jacket but just remember to take extra layers if you are going in temperatures below -5C and for temperatures lower than -15C never forget your expedition down jacket as that is when they come into their own.

Note: It looks like the women's version of this is no longer available.

Lowe Alpine Cerro Torre 65:85 (or 75:100) Rucksack (RRP: £200)

On cold expeditions your bag needs to be able to fit a lot inside it. Usually if you're in the Arctic, Antarctic or on an Alaskan expedition you'll also have a sled behind you too but the bag will be just as important. I use this bag because of it's simplicity and comfort. It's heavier than some bags of the same size (the 65:85 comes in at 2.75kg) but this weight is due to the structure it provides. When packed well the weight is piled high rather than side to side making for more balanced weight distribution. It has a useful extendable front lid for when you are filling it to it's max but will also pack down small for lighter trips. It has two sizeable side pockets, a hip pocket on both hip straps and a front pocket which is big enough to put a map in. 

MSR Reactor with 2.5L Pot (RRP: £180)

Everyone thinks that gas doesn't work in cold temperatures and high altitudes. However if it is looked after it can out perform liquid fuel. The Reactor is so efficient that no heat is lost (a down side if you are looking to heat up the tent whilst cooking but great for saving fuel). You do need to keep the current gas warm when you are not using it so that would mean keeping it in your sleeping bag at night and wrapping it in a jumper in your bag during the day. It's a fragile stove so when not using always pack away. Even though this sounds like a lot of faff compared to liquid fuel it really isn't when you consider with liquid fuel you have to pump it, clean it and avoid getting fuel all over the tent and fingers. The Reactor us so light and fits easily in a pot. As a back up, always take another stove e.g a Pocket Rocket.