We – Aurora Expeditions and Rolf Stange – have done four expeditions to Jan Mayen from 2014 to 2017. In three out of these four expeditions, groups have been able to reach the peak of Beerenberg. After these altogether very successful trips, we have decided that the project Jan Mayen is currently finished for us, so we do at the moment not plan any future trips. Of course we may at some stage decide to return (contact) – a life without Jan Mayen is possible, but does it make sense ..?
Arctic blog: Jan Mayen
Arctic blog: Jan Mayen Join voyages to Jan Mayen and Spitsbergen from the sofa! Especially if you consider joining us on Jan Mayen, I strongly recommend that you read my travel blog about the expeditions in 2014 and following years to get a realistic impression of what can happen. Click these links for the blog 2014, the blog 2015 and blog Jan Mayen 2016 and then scroll down to June and July.
Some thoughts and reflections on Jan Mayen expeditions and Beerenberg that crossed my mind during the 2014 expedition.
If you have ascended 1600 metres on a mountain 2277 metres high, should you then be glad to have the views that you have got, pretty high up on the northernmost volcanoe above sea level on Earth, with a free view to the crater top, glaciers and the hills of southern Jan Mayen? Or is it natural to be disappointed because you haven’t been all the way up? Does the top count or the view? Everbody will find a different answer to this question, which is not a matter of ratio. Climbing mountains generally isn’t, as a matter of fact.
Beerenberg is already exerting its drawing powers upon future expedition members, so I’d like to add a few points which I find important, all already mentioned elsewhere in relevant places easy to find for those who should be interested.
The voyage to Jan Mayen definitely has expedition charakter and is not at all a cruise. You can not compare it to an expedition style cruise on a small ship, such as the Antigua or one of the Oceanwide Expeditions vessels, in Spitsbergen or Antarctica. The expedition to Jan Mayen is far more demanding in terms of sportive ability and general lack of comfort. We have to expect seasickness during the crossings. Sleeping in tents in strong wind, rain and sand is not a camping holiday. Bad weather may require spending long, uncomfortable waiting hours or even days in wet, noisy tents. There is no cook. When you are hungry, you will mostly go yourself and get something out, both on the boat and in the camp (sometimes, Siggi is preparing one of his famous soups, though).
Getting up on Beerenberg must not be the only motivation for your participation. Otherwise, disappointment and frustration are too likely, which will not only influence your experience, but also the whole group. The whole island of Jan Mayen has its interest and beauty. If you don’t want to leave without the peak, then don’t join us, but organize your own expedition (yes, that is possible, although obviously not too easy).
If you want to get up to Beerenberg, you have to be really fit. Not just reasonably fit, but really well trained and sportive. Beerenberg’s 2277 metres of altitude are something completely different than the same altitude in the Alps, following established paths. The hike from Kvalrossbukta to Beerenberg already takes some energy, and the open air bivac will not necessarily give a lot of rest. All that follows a 2-3 day crossing of open sea, which is likely to bring seasickness and lack of sleep. You won’t be as fit as you have been at home before you left. If you are not certain you can make it, then you shouldn’t try! You can still join and come to Jan Mayen. There are plenty of other things to do.
Of course we reserve the right to excludes participants who appear to be not fit for the ascent. But this is always difficult. A realistic judgement of your abilities by yourself is of vital importance.
Everyone should have gone with a rope on a glacier before and should essentially know how to use crampons and ice axe.
No matter how fit and experienced we all are: to say there is no guarantee that we will reach Beerenberg is still an understatement. It will only be possible under optimum conditions, and these are rare on Jan Mayen. We won’t go up in strong winds or poor visibility. The decision is up to the guide, everybody else has to accept this decision. If you want to take the decision yourself, then you have to set up your own expedition.
The weather forecast is far from precise enough to give us exact information about possible weather windows. This time, a good forecast might have helped us up to the peak; we would have started earlier, even though it was raining. But there is no good forecast. It remains a gamble to the last moment, and you have to take the result with some humour, whether you loose or win.
If the peak is so important to you that not getting there will make you disappointed and frustrated, then please don’t join us. Set up your own expedition.
Of course, we hope on great hikes, not just in connection to Beerenberg. But also on these hikes, you have to consider something like 20 kilometres to reach many interesting places over uneven and sometimes demanding terrain. There is the possibility to do hikes almost individually, in small groups, and this will even be necessary at times when part of the group and the guides are on Beerenberg. This requires that you take the initiative and take off to do something on your own, within a certain framework to make sure it’s safe. Some initiative and a GPS are definitely helpful.
Expeditions to Beerenberg by station members start usually also from Ekerolddalen, quite exactly from the site of our bivac. The following table gives the hours needed in some examples by station members. We needed 8,5 hours to Nunatakken. The principal differences are obvous: the station members can wait for the best weather of the season and then drive by car out to Ekerolddalen. Once we are there, we will already have a long, exhaustive hike behind us, followed by some hours rest in a bivouac. That is a difference! Some examples of the time spent on Beerenberg by expeditions from station members:
Hours to Nunatakken (our turnaround point)
15th July 1992
17th July 1998
20th May 2007
18th March 2008
26th February 2006
10th March 2014
16th March 2009
Mount Beerenberg is towering 2277 metres high above the waves of the north Atlantic. The glaciers require care and correct use of safety equipment, but all in all Mount Beerenberg is technically not very demanding. The key requirement is good stamina and the main problem is getting there in the first place. But in good weather, you can almost see Greenland and Iceland from the top… 😉
Jan Mayen – 71°N 8°30’W
What is this about?
We want to have the rare opportunity to get in-depth experience of the fascinating island of Jan Mayen, including possibly climbing its highest mountain, Mount Beerenberg, and extensive excursions over parts of the island. Mount Beerenberg is the northernmost active volcano above sea level, its glaciated peak is 2277 metres high.
Some pictures from Sigurdur’s last ascent of Beerenberg:
Click on thumbnail to open an enlarged version of the specific photo.
jan mayen (gallery):
Arriving at Jan Mayen in good weather.
A good rest in 500 m altitude. Putting up a tent up there is not possible anymore for legal reasons.
Crevassed glacier high up on Beerenberg ...
... This is why we need the ropes.
On the top of Beerenberg, 2277 m high.
One group of well-trained hikers will attempt to reach the top of Mount Beerenberg during part of the week ashore (weather permitting, obviously). Those who do not want to make this attempt, will have more time for excursions and hikes closer to sea level. We will be completely isolated and on our own. Once we are on Jan Mayen, we will establish a basecamp with expedition tents in Kvalrossbukta. There, we will make our preparations to summit Mount Beerenberg and do a number of hikes: of course climbing Mount Beerenberg will be an important goal for some members, but not the only one. We want use the rare opportunity to see as much as possible of Jan Mayen.
Jan Mayen, Norway – 71°N 8°30’W
A mountaineering and hiking expedition to Jan Mayen
Information and requirements – Mountaineering This is a technical and more strenuous expedition for mountaineers who wish to walk beyond the shore radius in order to reach higher ground and viewpoints. Mountaineers walk in rope parties under the leadership of a certified mountain guide mostly across glaciated environment. Mountaineering knowledge is preferable, but not required. Physical fitness is essential. The maximum number is limited to 6 mountaineers per rope party. Special glacier equipment will be provided: ropes and carabiners, harnesses, helmets, ice axes and crampons. Participants will bring their personal protective outdoor clothes and boots suitable for using crampons. A qualified mountain guide will supervise and guide the ascent.
Jan Mayen: the mountaineers will carry their personal and shared equipment (food, stoves, fuel) in mountainous terrain to establish their basecamp ashore. This mountaineering expedition involves elements of glacier travel and camping. In general participants must be physically conditioned and experienced in order to participate in this strenuous exercise in alpine environments facing sometimes extreme weather. The climbers will move through steep, deep snow-covered, sometimes difficult, glaciated, crevassed and potentially hazardous alpine terrain. There is no real climbing on this trip, but the weather conditions can make the mountaineering and camping expedition a very challenging undertaking. There is a possibility that due to stormy weather the expedition must remain in tents for several days at a time. Good physical condition and health are essential for this polar expedition and must be backed up by a medical certificate.
Equipment:Camping equipment will be provided as far as needed. You bring your personal gear including harnesses, crampons, ice axe etc. Participants will get a detailed list.
Language: we expect an internationally mixed, English speaking group of expeditioners.
Interested? If you want to know more about this rare and exciting voyage, please contact me.
Around 10 persons including guides.
If you want to know more about this rare and exciting voyage, please contact me.
last modification: 2021-08-01
copyright: Rolf Stange