There are few experiences in life more disturbing than seeing an iceberg appear in the fog. We saw it on the third day of navigation from Upernavik to the north by the bay of Melville; Of course, it was not the first floating block of ice we came across; But this was veiled in mystery by an oleaginous haze, typical in this area of ​​the Baffin Sea.

iceberg en la niebla

Northabout sailing into the fog

The apparition had been preceded by the unexpected arrival on the deck of the pilot Nicolai Litau, who until now, given the placidity we had navigated the last few hours, had not deigned to peer out of the cabin; But something had changed. Sean Connery’s head stuck out as he played the Russian admiral in the movie “A Hunt for Red October,” and announced with mystery:

“There’s an iceberg in front of us, in the fog about 400 meters away”.

I went to the bow, in case it was necessary to indicate before an untimely maneuver of evasion; But it was not necessary, Litau had everything more than controlled. Even so he dressed in his sailing suit and went to the helm; From the bow I peered into the mist, with a ghostly and pressing sensation.

First he marked a shadow, a black body in the belly of the mist. Then he let himself be seen; White and blue and terrible in the vicinity. It passed a few meters from the Northabout, to starboard. I looked at Nicolai; And he smiled at me, enigmatic, like someone who has played with a ghost and has won.

Litau, a living legend

Nicolai is a living legend; Writer and adventurer, the Muscovite was the first man to circumnavigate on a sailboat the Arctic and Antarctica; And “something of which we found out in the beginning at the time of the voyage” “record-man”, because in 2013 brought the apostle Andres 16-meter sailboat to a latitude of 83º north near the Land of Francisco Jose. It was good to see him at the controls of our sailboat; Both have crashed helmets and countless stories in their log. Sailor and pilot of ice from the 90s also gives us his opinion regarding the climatic change:

-In the 90’s there was a lot more ice than today, that is undoubted. It was impossible to reach the heights reached today; But perhaps it was a natural cycle, because in the memories of the explorer Nördjenskol he describes areas that were then open sea and today are pure ice.

Nicolai Litau

Nicolai Litau and Mike Stewart studying the route

Forming an unusual but perfect team with Mike Stewart and Aitor Basarrate, they have conducted us with mastery among the ice of Baffin Bay; Are released every four hours and we every six. But, taking advantage of the fact that there is no night at this time, we went three hundred miles in three days, trying to make up for lost time. We were very lucky with the weather and with the sea; And we delighted with the sight of seals, whales and a myriad of waterfowl.

Going north of Cape York

Following this nautical marathon between ice and fog, we anchored to the north of the Cape of York, known because in this area, named Parker Snow Bust, the boat of the explorer Ross rested and because the first Danish commercial position was mounted in the early twentieth century. The shelter of this natural anchorage -presided by a beach that has a hut of hunting- it was absolutely great, because the sea curled for moments; And because the water is as full as ever from the threatening presence of icebergs, spat out by the nearby Agpat Agpal glacier.

We were on July 23, although after the intensive turns and in the middle of this eternal day, it was difficult not to feel some temporary disorientation. The coast of Melville Bay, which opened to our left, was a desolate succession of mountains covered with ice and snow;

“Be carefull of yourself because this area is very prone to storms at that time,” said Gina, a girl from Philippines who has lived in Upernavic for 13 years.

Equipo Mars Gaming Expedition en Qaanaaq

Miguel Gutierrez, María Valencia, Nicolai Litau, Javier Zardolla, Manu Mallo, Aitor Basarrate y Rafa Gutierrez.
In front Mike Stewart

The same Danish explorer Peter Freuchen described the bay as hell where ships were often shipwrecked; To the north of the cape of York, nevertheless, passed already and the 76 ° of latitude, at the end I see something of green in a pair of
fjord. Who was going to tell me that a little moss and a handful of weeds would give me such joy.

Life opens its course, and our tricks remain open. After a break we will continue to the north.


Grise Fiord
23 AUGUST, 2017

12.- The Inuit: a people at the crossroads

Grise Fiord is a grain of human sand on an immense island the size of England. Only 140 people inhabit this village which is the only settlement of Ellesmere, the northernmost insular of the Canadian Arctic. The rest is unleashed nature and implacable severity.

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North York Land
16 AUGUST, 2017

11.- Towards the mountains without a name

On August 8 we marched up the glacier carrying the equipment on pulkas or sleds. We wanted to climb the highest peak in the area. We were in the mountains that surround the Manson polar cap, the so-called North York Land. It is a remote white territory on the map.

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Cape Norton Show Bay
14 AUGUST, 2017

10.- A lost world

There was a movie – an adaptation of a Jules Verne story – that marked my childhood. The movie was about explorers flying over unexplored Greenland in an airship. They discovered, among other wonders, a surviving Viking community, plus a bay lost in time and mist where the whales were going to breathe their last breath.

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13 AUGUST, 2017

9.- Weather is in charge

Everyone has a plan until it gets spoiled. I had a plan. I had been watching the ice charts, the satellite images of the Sentinel – sent and analyzed by the expert Íñigo Orue – and the charts and had observed the following: the Strait of Nares is like a bowling alley.

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Familia Inuit llegando al Northabout
9 AUGUST, 2017

8.- Soriapaluk, a village on the border of the cold

On day 1 a speed boat was presented in front of the Northabout. It was a visit. The hunter Pullaq Ulloriaq and his daughter Bebiane honored us with their presence on board.”The Inuit are tight and distrustful of foreigners. It’s hard to get in touch,” some experts had warned.

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Northabout entre el hielo
1 AUGUST, 2017

7.- Defeat in Smith Strait (Chronicle 2)

The ice chart, an indispensable tool for anyone traveling on icy seas, gave rise to some hope: even Cape Alexander, the westernmost point of Greenland, only a third of the surface of the water was covered with ice. Enough for us. So we marched through a white maze dodging icebergs thanks to the skill as helmsman of Aitor Basarrate.

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Northabout atrapado en el hielo
1 AUGUST, 2017

6.- Defeat in Smith Strait (Chronicle 1)

They say that any polar adventure involves some kind of suffering. On July 27 we started our first major battle against ice. And we lost it. I will never forget the crash of the ice against the helmet. Runs from the beds to deck. And the long hours of hopeful and nervous glances trying to peer out into the ice maze.

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iceberg en la niebla
28 JULY, 2017

5.- Ghosts of the Baffin Sea

There are few experiences in life more disturbing than seeing an iceberg appear in the fog. We saw it on the third day of navigation from Upernavik to the north by the bay of Melville; Of course, it was not the first floating block of ice we came across; But this was veiled in mystery by an oleaginous haze, typical in this area of ​​the Baffin Sea.

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boda inuit
26 JULY, 2017

4.- Shipwrecks and beluga carpaccio

An Inuit wedding is a strange mix between tradition and modernity. They emphasize the traditional costumes: The grooms dress old fashioned, he with white anorak and she with a colorful coat; And both in sealskin pants and boots. We were fortunate to be invited to his wedding by Nunarleq Mathaussen, a pure Inuit who married Ane, a local girl with Nordic features.

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Pájaros sobre iceberg
26 JULY, 2017

3.- Quixote things and other unforeseen

People come to the Arctic in the hope of seeing new and wonderful things; To bring in his pocket money to tell that really worth it.

The lucky ones attend a northern aurora, spot a formation of whales or discover the polar bear at the time of breakfast with a seal; But what is really unusual is to see is two Basques carrying on a dingui – a standard Zodiac – and with a poke in their hands fighting against an iceberg.

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12 JULY, 2017

2.- The Strait of Nares, the gates of the White Hell

If the Mars Gaming Northabout Expedition succeeds, it will be the first time a Spanish team has reached the Geomagnetic Pole. But the most interesting is the territory where the bet will be developed. Authentic “door of the white hell” the Strait of Nares (which the expedition intends to cross) was the passage chosen by numerous expeditions throughout history to reach by sea the North Pole, because it was mistakenly thought that behind the ice barrier, a warm sea existed.

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David Hempleman-Adams
7 MARCH, 2017

1.- Mars Gaming Northabout Expedition

Adventures begin in the most unlikely places. The Mars Gaming Northabout Expedition came to being one haunted night, in the middle of the countryside, somewhere between the English cities of Bath and Bristol.

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