With Valiente from Svalbard to Jan Mayen – climbing Mt. Beerenberg

Mount Beerenberg: Svalbard - Jan Mayen - Iceland

In between Norway and Greenland you find a tiny dot on the map. One of the most inaccessible islands in the entire North Atlantic. Flocks of fulmars fly around volcanic cliffs and the ocean swells constantly roll onto the exposed coast. Whales and seals thrive in the clear, productive sea, while on land we encounter a barren lunar landscape shrouded in fog. Though if the fog suddenly clears, we are met with a fantastic view of the glaciated summit of Mount Beerenberg. Norway’s only active volcano rising over 2000 meters high out from the ocean. Come along to Jan Mayen and climb Mount Beerenberg!

Next level expedition!

This expedition is for the very most adventurous. To one of the most inaccessible places we have in Norway! We are not only going on an extraordinary sailing trip to Jan Mayen, but we’ll also attempt to climb mount Beerenberg; the world’s northernmost volcano!

Crossing the Greenland Sea

The adventure starts with an ocean crossing, from Svalbard to Jan Mayen. During the voyage across the Greenland Sea we really get to feel the vastness of the high seas. Jan Mayen is far out at sea, and we need to cover around 600 nm from Svalbard to Jan-Mayen. Which takes us 4-5 days. From Jan-Mayen to Iceland we have around 450nm to cover, which we’ll spend around 3 days on. We never know what kind of weather we’ll get, but we’re sailing at a favorable time of year in this part of the Arctic. So we hope for a pleasant crossing and as much time possible on Jan Mayen.

There will be adventurous days across the sea, and we’ll get to know each other well. Everyone on board is part of the crew and we sail around the clock. If we’re lucky you might even spot some whales or dolphins as you keep a steady course looking out for Jan Mayen in the distance. At this latitude during this time of year, we have full midnight sun and it will be light all day and night.

Norway’s longest ascent towards Beerenberg

Upon arrival at Jan Mayen, we establish our basecamp on the beach. As our starting point for exploration on land and the ascent of Beerenberg. The peak itself is top priority – we will start the hike as soon as we have a suitable weather window! It’s said Jan Mayen and Beerenberg can have more than 300 days of fog annually. As the islands exposed location in the middle of the ocean. Therefore we plan for almost a whole week on land, to hopefully get the right conditions for the attempt at the summit. 

There are strict conservation restrictions in the Jan Mayen Nature Reserve, so we can only go ashore and pitch our tents in a restricted area. The trip up to the top thus starts from the beach where we have the basecamp. The hike starts first with a solid approach to the foot of the mountain, followed by Norway’s longest uphill with a climb of more than 2200 height meters. As we climb, we eventually hit the glacier, which at first is a gentle snow slope, but steepens towards the top. For the last part to the peak we rope up, to pass the crevasses and icefalls here. In clear weather, the view from the 2277 meter high peak is absolutely incredible!

A several day summit push

The return to the base camp consists of as many kilometers as the hike to the top. So we’ll spend a minimum of two days on the entire ascent. If we make it all the way up. The climb is not technically demanding, but parts of the ascent cross glaciers where we use ropes, crampons and ice axes. The biggest challenge, however, is the length of the trip. We expect to spend at least 35 hours on the trip up and down, and maybe closer to two days. Due to the special conservation regulations on the island, we do not have the opportunity to pitch tents along the way.

Basecamp Jan Mayen

As the organizer we take care of the logistics and prepare the common equipment needed for the expedition; camping gear and glacier equipment. You must however provide your own sleeping bag and matt, as well as standard hiking gear. You’ll get a detailed packing list upon registration. When we arrive at Jan Mayen, the first task is to get all the food, equipment and people ashore. We work as a team to set up camp, cook and other practical tasks along the way. The boat will hopefully be available near the beach, but the weather and seastate determines whether we can get to the boat from the beach. So we plan under the assumption that this will not be possible. 

Expedition in no man’s land

This is an expedition where several factors must play together for success. And clearly the weather is the biggest uncertainty for both the climb of Beerenberg and the voyage to Jan Mayen. Although the group and each individual’s physical shape also play a role. In addition, the technical aspects of the boat and equipment need to work. We will do our utmost to make sure that all falls in place, but we can unfortunately not guarantee that we will reach the peak.

Jan Mayen and Beerenberg are no man’s land. If someone gets injured, it’s not possible to just be picked up by helicopter, although the Norwegian station there has some resources. Given where we are and the forces of nature in the Arctic, we take every precaution and prepare for a tough hike up and down the mountain.

With SeilNorge on board Valiente

From SeilNorge we will be skipper and co-skipper + crew on board. Of which at least two of us will have solid sailing time and experience from similar expeditions. In addition, we bring with us a guide and expedition leader who is responsible for the time on land. 

It’s not just any sailboat we use on these trips either, but our 70-foot expedition boat Valiente. She is a very sturdy and comfortable steel vessel, designed for sailing in arctic waters. The boat is amply equipped and has large outdoor areas, and a wheelhouse and a saloon with a 360-degree view. Here you can see pictures and read more about Valiente.

Environment & Sustainability

The Arctic is a vulnerable area under pressure from people and the climate. In SeilNorge we are committed to taking care of the environment to the greatest extent possible. We believe that small boats with few people and little pollution and waste are significantly less harmful to the environment, climate and local wildlife than larger vessels and cruise ships. Along the way at the places we visit, we try to clean up rubbish. We only take memories and pictures home, and avoid leaving any traces behind. 

Keeping the lowest possible carbon footprint is important to us. We sail as long as there is wind, and we work purposely with food, purchasing and waste management. Even if we have to use our engine for propulsion when there is no wind, our trips are among the most sustainable ways to experience the Arctic.

In Jan Mayen, Svalbard and Greenland, we follow AECO’s guidelines for encounters with wildlife, beach cleaning, cultural heritage sites and for visitors and operators in the Arctic

 

With SeilNorge to Jan-Mayen and Beerenberg

Here is a video from our voyage to Jan Mayen and Beerenberg with the watch brand Straum in 2022, for inspiration:

Thank you very much Seil Norge for a thoroughly WELL executed scheme. Seil Norge get my best recommendations, you should have a trip like this every year!

Petter B, Jan Mayen and Beerenberg 2019

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome aboard in Longyearbyen

We meet at 16:00 on the quay in Longyearbyen. We start by getting to know each other, before going through the plan for the expedition and the weather forecast. We familiarize ourselves with the boat and finish stowing provisions and equipment. Life on expedition requires cooperation, and before departure we go through routines, procedures and safety onboard. We leave the harbor and sail out of Isfjorden this first evening.

Day 2-4: From Longyearbyen to Jan Mayen

This will be a proper ocean crossing; from Svalbard to Jan Mayen. After getting out to open seas, we aim straight for Jan Mayen. The crossing itself is around 570 nautical miles. With good conditions, we will be there in less than four days, but if the weather is against us we might spend an extra day.

Day 5: Landfall at the volcanic island, Jan-Mayen

There can be more than 300 days of fog on Jan-Mayen, due to the island’s exposed and lonely location in the middle of the sea. Sowe might not spot the towering volcanic island until we are very close. As soon as we arrive, we make a plan for the landing. This in itself can be challenging with constant swells from the ocean. Due to the conservation regulations, we can only anchor in either Kvalrossbukta on the west side, or Båtvika on the east side. Kvalrossbukta is a somewhat better harbor to anchor, but in westerly winds we aim for Båtvika. We choose the quietest side of the island, and spend the hours it takes to get all provisions, equipment and people ashore. The first stage is done!

Day 6: Basecamp Beerenberg

We set up camp together on the beach and make a detailed plan for the next few days. The weather is decisive in terms of all planning and we are prepared for all conditions. If we have a weather window on arrival, we set off for the summit straight away, but we can also end up waiting in camp for several days. We distribute equipment between us, go over the route and techniques for the glacier crossing and get ready for the summit attempt.

Day 7-8: The only active volcano in Norway

At Jan Mayen there are restrictions on where we are allowed to set up camp, it is only allowed in the bays in which we can anchor. From here, there is a 12-15 km approach to the foot of the mountain, which will be the first stage of the summit hike. We follow the military’s dirt tracks through the very special volcanic landscape where the feeling of being in one of the world’s most desolate wildernesses is almost too overwhelming! After the approach well underdone Norway’s longest uphill awaits. Up the glacier, we will eventually find crampons, ice axes and ropes, and tie ourselves into rope teams for the last couple of hundred meters towards the peak. The goal is for everyone in the group to get to the top of Beerenberg. We have a number of days at our disposal and are optimistic. The hike back out is as long as the inward march, and it will be some very long days to reach the summit.

Day 9: Backup day for Beerenberg

We plan with extra days ashore in Jan Mayen to get a suitable weather window for the summit climb. If the summit is already conquered, we get an extra day of exploring the unique volcanic landscape on the island.

Days 10-12: Sailing to Iceland

We have become a close-knit group by now, and have already some ocean sailing experience. The boat will be a welcome home after the days in the tents, and everyone is well acquainted with the routines and life on board. In any case, we will enjoy our voyage further south towards Iceland, whether it is in heavy weather and stormy seas, or on a calm Greenland Sea. We aim for the northwestern tip of Iceland and the charming fishing village of Isafjordur. Where we find both good restaurants and bars, and volcanic hot springs to sooth our tiered feet and sea legs.
Exactly when we arrive in Iceland is of course dependent on the conditions we get across the sea, but we anyhow aim to end our trip in port in Isafjordur latest at 16.00 this last day. Thanks for the ride and great adventure!

Changes to the program

The program should be seen as a starting point, which we adapt depending on weather and conditions underway. We reserve the right to constantly improve the program for the better. With us along the way, we always have dinghies for beach landings and small expeditions. We have fishing equipment for the cod, and hiking equipment for bonfires and summit climbs – we are ready for adventure, are you?!

What is included?

  • A trip experience with sailboat – experienced skipper with local knowledge on board
  • Co-skipper and crew/guide on board
  • All food we eat on board during the trip
  • Our Comfort Package, which consists of accommodation on board in a shared double cabin (bunk or double bed) with a ready-made bed (warm and nice duvets and pillows!)
  • An environmentally friendly, local, sustainable, unique, exotic and exclusive Norwegian adventure holiday
  • A shared experience and friendship with like-minded adventurers from around the world
  • A lot of time outdoors – raw and honest nature experiences
  • Use of our shared equipment if available: dinghies, kayaks, fishing equipment, etc.
  • All boat-related costs such as diesel, propane and harbor fees
  • Personal safety equipment; Helly Hansen inflatable lifejacket
  • Survival suit and Search and Rescue (SAR) Insurance for everyone on board
  • Instruction, advice, guidance and practical training in boating and sailing
  • Guide and expedition leader for the climb of Beerenberg
  • All the food we eat during the trip, both onboard and on land at Jan-Mayen.
  • Shared equipment for the basecamp (tent/stove) and shared glacier equipment (rope, safety gear)

What is not included?

  • Travel to and from the start/end location
  • Optional meals at a cafes/restaurants during the trip
  • Entrance to galleries, museums, or other alternative activities that you/we may come up with
  • Rental of equipment and/or activities from external operators, ex. kayak, glacier hiking or surfing where possible
  • Drinks such as wine, beer or exclusive apple juice and other luxuries (yes, we drink beer and wine on board, bring your own)
  • Travel insurance and/or cancellation insurance – (up to you, but recommended!)
  • Personal basecamp equipment (sleeping bag and mat), and personal glacier equipment (crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet – can be rented from us)

Important info

Travel

This trip starts in Longyearbyen, Svalbard and ends in Isafjordur, Iceland.

You find more information on travel, equipment and other tips under Practical info.

Specific information - Jan Mayen and Beerenberg

This is both a sailing expedition where we will undertake multi-day sea crossings, in addition to an expedition to reach the summit of Beerenberg. The part where we climb this volcano demands some prior experience with this type of long and tiring summit climbs and a good physical shape. The most challenging part of this trip is the length of the climb and the necessary endurace, but we also recommend that you have some prior experience with similar trips on glaciers and glacier crossings in rope-team.

On this expedition we provide shared equipment both for the basecamp and shared glacier equipment. This means tents, stoves and cooking equipment for the basecamp, and ropes, slings, prutzics, protection- and rescue equipment for the glacier. Everybody has to provide standard mountain equipment themselves including sleeping bag/-mat, in addition to personal glacier equipment; crampons, ice-axe, helmet and harness. Though the later can be rented through us.

Conditions when it comes to the climb of Beerenberg: Occasionally we might not get the chance to reach the top of Beerenberg because of factors like injuries/weather/other. We have a high focus on safety while we are underway. Participation is at your own risk. No reimbursement will apply if we cannot reach the summit as a result of unforeseen events, such as injuries/weather or other conditions. However, we have almost a full week available at this volcanic island and we will play around in the area rich in nature and opportunities for alternative activities

Deposit and payment

You only pay a deposit (NOK 6000) upon registration, the remainder of the payment is due 60 days prior to departure.

Safety and risk on board

We are all about people, and so we also take safety very seriously. On our trips we practice sail- and boat handling also for safety, and we spend time going through various situations that can arise at sea, how to handle them and how to avoid them.

On board a boat everyone must know what to do in critical situations and in the event of an emergency. Our philosophy is that partaking and participation builds safety. It is important for the safety of the whole boat that you are a participant on board, not just a passenger.

Therefore all our trips are to be considered sailing courses in addition to being great  holidays and adventures: You are trained to make up the crew on board and so we build a capable team on board.

Feel free to contact us for a chat about safety and risk on our adventures.

Level of the trip

No sailing experience? No problem! Our sailing adventures welcome both novices and seasoned sailors for an inclusive and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re new to sailing or a salty sea dog, our trips cater to all levels.

We aim to transform beginners into sailors quickly while offering experienced participants greater responsibilities and challenges. Our mainland sailing journeys involve 44-50 feet boats navigating coastal and protected waters, occasionally crossing open stretches for excitement. Route adjustments based on weather and conditions ensure a safe and adaptable voyage.

Trips are not overly strenuous; with rotating positions, participants can balance sailing and relaxation. Active engagement minimizes seasickness, and if it occurs, it passes swiftly. Weather, however, is unpredictable, with the potential for stronger winds and various conditions in northern Norway and the Arctic, making each trip a true sailing adventure. Be prepared for calm winds and rough weather—embracing the elements for an unforgettable experience.

What we expect from you

Our trips require a little effort from you who are joining – everyone on board must be ready to contribute and to give of themselves also socially; the more you open up, share and interest yourself in the others on board, the more enjoyable it gets. 

When you’re sailing with us you are invited to take part in the running of the ship and all that comes with it. You will be sailing, docking, navigating, looking out for whales and icebergs, but also making food, serving others, doing dishes and helping clean the boat during the trip, and contributing in other ways when needed. On board we are all in the same boat and when all help out, the ship is most happy. 

Our experience is that doing things together with others out in nature, and not least cooperating and doing activities with new people and different personalities than you might have around you normally, is what creates the best, most interesting and memorable moments and stories:)

Equipment and packing

As with all activities, there is plenty of special equipment and clothing for sailing. If you don’t have any of this, you will get very far with normal hiking/outdoor equipment. You do not need to buy a lot of new equipment to join our trips. Use what you have, borrow what you need from a friend, purchase used equipment, and if you have to invest in new equipment – buy quality items that will last! What you need is something waterproof and windproof on the outside, and layered warm clothing underneath.

Some jackets may not be waterproof “enough”, or might not perform too well in salt water, so you can consider a set of oilskin for the wettest days (available for rent or purchase on board). A pair of higher rubber boots for disembarking from the dinghy is very good to have, as well as indoor shoes below deck. Out at sea and in the Arctic it can be cold even in summer, so bring both swimwear and plenty of warm clothes. Well before departure, we will send you a detailed recommended packing list.

Read more and see our packing tips here:

PS: In a sailboat, you pack in a bag or sack, not in a rigid suitcase. 🙂

Food & cooking on board

On our trips, you will be part of the crew on board and get the chance to participate in all tasks for the operation of the boat. This includes cooking and preparing food – everyone take turns in the galley! Skippers and crew assist as much as they can along the way.

We have great menus with tasty, healthy and “boat-friendly” food, and for each trip we order provisions for all meals on board. If you have allergies or preferences, let us know in the registration form and we will take that into account as best as we can. You are also most welcome to bring any special food or drink with you. Why not bring some specialities from your country or region for the boat to enjoy? 

During a weeklong trip we often sail by a good restaurant or two where we can have dinner on land. Some places we need to pre-book and we will then need to choose a menu before we arrive. More about all of this when you come on board!

Life on board & accommodation

Life on a sailboat is super social and fun, but it might feel a bit intimate at first. No worries though, that vibe usually fades after the first hour. Everyone chips in to run the boat, and we’re all part of the crew, which means quick bonding.

We’re keen to get to know you and hope you’ll connect with the rest of the crew. It takes some patience, generosity, and an open mind to thrive, but soon you’ll be focused on making new friends and enjoying raw nature experiences once sea life feels like home.

Sleeping arrangements in shared cabins with double or bunk beds can be a bit of a puzzle, but we’re pretty good at figuring it out. Let us know if you have preferences. You’re on your own for land accommodations before or after the trip.

The boat provides heating and good food, but fresh water isn’t always abundant. Water conservation means not showering every day, but when near freshwater sources, we make the most of it. But nothing beats a morning sea swim for that fresh feeling.

Safety and risk on our expeditions

As mentioned, we take safety very seriously. Even more so on our expeditions, as we then explore really remote waters and terrain, cross open oceans and sail into areas with additional risk factors such as sea ice or poor charts and uncharted waters. We deal with this by having an extra focus on the situations we may encounter among everyone on board, for each expedition. We sail in these remote areas only in the most optimal seasons; and we use larger and very solid boats for our expeditions. Which are both equipped and sized to cope with this type of expedition trips and waters very well.

We are absolutely certain that sailing is the safest and most accessible way to visit these very inaccessible places we go on our expeditions. However, all sailing in general, and particularly sailing in arctic regions and over open seas, involves a certain risk that you must be aware of when joining.

Level of the expedition

Some have their first sailing experience ever, joining us on an ocean crossing! Please note that our expeditions require a certain physical health and mobility level.

The boats we sail on our expeditions are larger, robust and sit well in the sea. On our sailing expeditions we both sail in more coastal, sheltered waters, and cross open stretches of waters. On some of our expeditions even ocean crossings over several days at sea. An incredibly wonderful and special experience!

Weather dictates our journey, and we adapt each expedition’s program accordingly, often allowing extra days for flexibility in assessing and choosing optimal weather windows. Despite planning and preparations, we can’t control the weather, so be prepared for various conditions. The proximity to nature’s forces on such expeditions is a rare and rewarding experience.

On expeditions, we sail with many participants, forming watch teams for a solid on board team spirit. Rotating watches around the clock ensures active involvement without overwhelming fatigue.

As everyone participates actively during the week or more on board, seasickness is rare. If you anticipate seasickness, consider bringing remedies, such as seasickness plasters, often effective for longer expeditions. Consult your doctor for advice on seasickness and any necessary medications. Feel free to ask us about seasickness as well.

Any questions? Need travel tips? Practical information?


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