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. 

Northabout entre el hielo

Northabout in the icy sea

The plan was to anchor alongside, after an unnamed island, to the shelter of the elements. And then study the following letter. But as it did not arrive, we ascended the mountain in search of a panoramic view of the Strait of Smith, which opened before us as genuine doors of the cold.

The route – started in the middle of the night by Aitor Basarrate, María Valencia, Rafa Gutiérrez and I – left us the aftertaste of the true off-road walks; We came across caribou, wolves and three Arctic hare platoons jumping uphill like white arrows.


The top, preceded by steep slopes of canchales and atomized rocks, was marked by a cairn of brown stones. From there we were able to assess the situation: suddenly several coves to the north were free of ice. 

“It’s free!” There’s an open passage to the north! “I remember Basarrate shouting. 

But on the way down we expected an unpleasant surprise. The north of Cape Alexander was ice-free because he had wandered in the opposite direction. It was three-thirty in the morning when we came paddling to a Northabout besieged by ice on all its sides.

Northabout atrapado en el hielo

Another view of the Northabout in the icy sea


Our comrades were exhausted after hours of surveillance and fighting against icebergs. The wind had attracted thousands of blocks of ice in pilgrimage. The ice pack tightened tight and sinister. Only to the south they seemed to split some paths of liquid water between the ice. It was the critical moment. It required the action of intrepid captains and experts. To our fortune, ours are.

Nicolai Litau y Mike Stewart

Nicolai Litau and Mike Stewart

Without a trace of nerves Stewart tried to take the sailboat to the free bays of the north. But the trap was closed and we had to return to the starting point under Cape Alexander. Very tired and with the hull of the boat damaged.

In spite of the restlessness those who were not guarded slept loosely, because there are times when exhaustion overcomes fear.


A huge impact woke us up at dawn. I came to consider the worst of situations, as it is floating drifting in waters less than three degrees Celsius.  


But then Litau, the best ice rider in the world, frozen the look and smile, marked us the only way to escape. And we fled to the south, through a labyrinth of waning ice, with Aitor Basarrate clutching the wheel like a soul to his host.

Even in Soriapaluk, once free, we had no truce. The Bay of Robertson, where the town is set, was invaded. We had to move the boat 8 times in 24 hours of uninterrupted fights with the ice. On the 28th, we had a truce. And we were able to rest.

The ice sheet left no room for doubt: the northern coves where we wanted to shelter ourselves were solidified by 80 percent.

The same as the way we had escaped in extremis. Defeated, we had looked out to the Smith Strait, the gates of hell white, and had broken it.

But the war, we said, is not over yet.


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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