Turning 40 can be a pivotal moment in a person’s life. For Accenture Cloud professionals Audun Simonsen and Thomas Kvalvåg, it was a time to challenge themselves, embrace the unknown and make forever memories, by taking what Audun calls “a 40-year old’s crisis trip” across the inhospitable icy terrains of Greenland.
For Thomas, it was also a lifetime ambition: “It was my dream to go on an expedition like this,” he said. “I really wanted to challenge myself physically and mentally, and experience extreme conditions. What better way than this expedition?
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“I was also interested in the history of the trip,” Thomas added. “The original expedition was made by Norway’s first polar explorer, Nansen in 1888. We decided to take the same sea crossing from Iceland to Greenland as he did. After three days on the boat, we were on the ice in Greenland, all set to cross from East to West.”
Audun and Thomas ensured they were fully prepared for the trip. “The work part was easy,” Audun said. “We told our leadership at Accenture a year in advance, and they were fully supportive. With a bit of forward planning, we had covered all our projects. Our colleagues were surprised that we wanted to use up all our holiday going on the ice though!”
Preparing for the physical element of the trip was tough. “You have to be very regimented in your fitness training,” explained Thomas. “I went hiking regularly, wearing a harness with a car tire attached to it, which I pulled through the woods. We also worked hard to improve our fitness levels through running and cycling.”
Once in Greenland, they were faced with contrasting activities—peaceful walks through beautiful valleys, long-distance skiing (500 km), and extreme hiking conditions, with climbs of up to 2800 meters above sea level. There were dangers too. At times, the temperature was 30 degrees below, and Audun, Thomas, their guide and the three other members of their expedition team faced high winds, ice storms and several other perils.
“We had to carry a weapon, in case we were attacked by polar bears,” Audun explained. “This was just one of the many risks we faced, along with cracks in the ice, our tent blowing away, our skis breaking, or, worst of all—getting sick or injured during the trip.”
Despite Thomas suffering a minor muscle injury, and both men suffering from frostbite—they were lucky, and successfully completed the expedition.
For many, crossing Greenland is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. For Audun and Thomas, it may just be the beginning. “We’ve got the hunger now!” Thomas said. “The expedition company is already trying to entice us to join them on their South Pole trip.”
Audun already has his sights set on another, shorter trip. “I am planning a week in Hardangervidda, a high-level plateau in Norway,” he said. “I’ve got the adventure bug now!”
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