(By Correne Coetzer) This past season only one team skied from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole: the Adventure Consultants team, with Icelandic guide, Einar Torfi Finnsson. Exweb caught up with him in Reykjavík.
Twenty years ago he co-foundered Icelandic Mountain Guides and became an expert in Iceland and Greenland expeditions and adventures. Apart form Iceland expeditions, Einar has guided on Mt. Gunnbjörn and Dome, two highest mountains in Greenland and led three expeditions across the Greenland Ice Cap.
As for Antarctica, skiing the 1130 km coast-to-Pole route in 57 days, he found it “long”; navigating the team all the way, except for two hours during a particular bad white-out. Einar tells how he became a guide for AC, what makes a good team, gave three top responsibilities of a guide, explained their routine on the ice, and more.
Explorersweb: How did you become a guide for Adventure Consultants?
Einar: I am one of the founders of Icelandic Mountain Guides, a 20 year old guide company in Iceland. We have been working with AC for 10 years or so, operating their Greenland crossings and that's how they know me.
Explorersweb: You and your team started at Hercules Inlet, while most opted to start at the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf. Why did you chose Hercules Inlet?
Einar: AC offers both I think and the clients chose HI so we should rather ask them :-)
Explorersweb: How did you experience the 1130 km across the ice?
Einar: Long ;-)
Explorersweb: What makes a good team?
Einar: One could write a book on the subject. I would think that a good team is when all members understand that it is one for all and all for one. Where everybody work for the benefit of the team and where everybody is ready to push their ego to the side and to be patient with each others flaws.
Explorersweb: What, for you, are the three top responsibilities as a guide?
Einar: To keep the rhythm the way that every one lasts till the end. To ensure safety and to motivate.
Explorersweb: How did you daily routine look like?
Einar: Most of the time we woke up at 6 (Chile time), broke camp at 8.30. Walked for 4 periods of 1 hour and 50 min. Took 2 brakes of 20-25 min and one 35-45 min. Camped around 5:30 pm. Dinner at 7:10 pm. To bed some time between 9:30 and 10:30.
Explorersweb: Did you navigate all the way or did the team members take turns?
Einar: I navigated and skied in front during the whole expedition except for 2 hours in a particularly bad white out when Tim went in front and I navigated and directed him from behind.
Explorersweb: How did your menu look like? Did you have any input in the menu, or any Iceland treats that work in the cold?
Einar: I created the menu and the only really Icelandic treat was the dried fish, which is fat and tasty.
I used a similar menu as we use in Greenland but since a lot of it was bought in Chile I of course had to adapt to what I could get in Punta Arenas. We started with 4500 kcal per person per day and ended with 6500 kcal.
In the morning we had muesli with chocolate powder or milk powder, during the day we ate muesli bars, chocolate bars, chocolate, biscuits etc. At lunch we had dried fish from Iceland, butter, crackers, cheese, salami. For dinner, soup, frost dried meal, cheese and salami. And butter of course.
Explorersweb: Did it help that you were born and bred in Iceland?
Einar: I have been crosscountry skiing of track since the age of 10 and I have guided a lot of cross country expeditions in Iceland. It is no question that it gives huge advantage to be from there.
Explorersweb: Who gave you advice about the route before during your preparation time?
Einar: I got tips from ALE, my cousin Leifur, who has guided the last degree and from Vilborg Arna that skied from Hercules Inlet to the Pole two years ago.
Explorersweb: What were the three top tips you got?
Einar: Wear a face mask always, bring a Bergans Polar skirt. The third one was me being stubborn and not wanting to use wool kartankers in my shoes like the two others (Leifur and Vilborg had done) so I bought liners in the Mordre extreme boots and I was very happy with that choice.
Explorersweb: You used a skirt on the ice. How did you experienced it? Did it help against the chill-blains on the upper legs, etc.? Where did you get it? What brand? Did the other men also wear it?
Einar: I was the only one to wear the polar skirt and I liked it very much. It was from Bergans. It did indeed help.
Explorersweb: Gear: Skis, skins (length), boots, clothes, sled? Your 3 favorite gear items?
Einar: I had Salomon skis, Alfa Mordre boots, Paris pulka. I had woolen underwear from Bergans, and the rest of the clothing was either Mountain Equipment or RAB. Both great!
My three favorite gear items are hard to pick. I go for my Rab vaporise jacket, which breathability was fantastic, my ME Fitzroy pants and my skis.
Explorersweb: What are your three top tips now that you have done it?
Einar: Stick to 75 mm shoes and bindings, take care of your face and thighs to avoid frostbite and bring your good mood.
Check this video of the team setting up camp.
Expedition Leader: Einar Finnsson, Iceland
Tim Garrett – Australia
Hugh Dougall – Canada
William Morrison – United Kingdom
Start date at Hercules Inlet (80ºS): November 24, 2014
Arrival at 90ºS: January 19, 2015.
The team was resupplied.
Einar is passionate about mountaineering, mountain biking, the arctic, nature and nature conservation. Non work related interests and hobbies: Cross-country skiing, reading books, big foot Land Rovers, mountain biking hiking, travelling around the world, his family.
Einar Finnsson and team at the South Pole, and Shackleton beset in the pack ice
South Pole traverse skiers, Stéphanie and Jérémie Gicquel: the race begins halfway
ExWeb interview with South Pole traverse kiter Frédéric Dion: One step at the time
Exweb interview with South Pole skier, Ian Evans: Attitude is everything
AdventureStats (Polar Rules and Statistics)
Martin Szwed admits manipulating South Pole photos
South Pole innovation: The Skirt
Einar Torfi Finnsson pages:
Icelandic Mountain Guides website
Icelandic Mountain Guides Catalogue
Icelandic Travel Market
South Pole diary 2014-15
Rules and Regulations in No-Man's Land: ExWeb interview with ALE's Steve Jones
Polar Tech Week Roundup: 2014/2015 Recommendations
Your Smart Phone going Global: Review of Iridium Go
ExWeb Special: 2014 Polar Tech Roundtable Conference
HumanEdgeTech Expedition Technology