Outdoor / Expeditionary Background

Neither Anna nor Pasi are new to leading groups in extreme environments. Some of their eclectic outdoor history is included here in the hope that it gives you confidence in their abilities to guide you safely through the arctic tundra.

Year

Joint Expeds / Journeys

Anna

Pasi
Recent Arctic reconnaissance journeys by dog team, ski, foot, bike and quad are part of everyday life in a remote area which is not very well mapped. Trekking in Slovenia and exploratory journeys in Lapland
2008 South Pole Unsupported 2008
Cotswold Outdoors: Arctic Training Camp 2008 Organisers, Lyngen Alps, Norway Expedition to Circumnavigate Svalbard by sea kayak 2008
2007 Cotswold Outdoors: Arctic Training Camp 2007 Organisers, Lyngen Alps, Norway Ski-mountaineering in Svalbard
2006 By Hands & Feet Across Greenland Expedition Stage Race in Greenland (Arctic Team Challenge)
2005 Explore Sweden – Race Logistics 2005 Filming a Borneo Stage Race 2004 for the BBC Scottish Expedition-length Race
South African / Namibian Expedition Race Traverse of Baja Expedition Race
2004 Brazilian Jungle Expedition Race Filming the Ukatak Arctic Ultra as AP for the BBC Participating in the Ukatak Arctic Ultra with the BBC as part of 'The Challenge' reality TV series
Fulda Challenge Selection G4 Challenge Selection Lapin Kulta Challenge & Lapin Kulta Heli-Ski Camp Organiser
Croatian 5 day Mountain Race
2003 A number of reconnaissance wilderness back country ski journeys (temps. -10 to –40C). Arctic Scandinavia Borneo: Mild Seven Outdoor Quest with the BBC Lapin Kulta Challenge & Lapin Kulta Heli-Ski Camp Organiser
2002 Trans-Scotland Race Full time / professional adventure racing athlete (5 years)
8 day non-stop expedition race across Vietnam Race across Northern Ireland Malasian jungle race
2 week sea-kayak journey in Lake Ladoga, Russia Colorado, 5 day mountain race Lapin Kulta Challenge Organisation
Fiji 10-day jungle expedition race
2001 Trans-Scotland Race Trans-Scotland Race Canada, Winter Expedition Race
SAS Are you Tough Enough Series 1, filmed for BBC2. The link given here is to the first of a number of parts of an abridged youtube version of series 1. Country Director Namibia: Raleigh International New Zealand, 6 day mountain race
New Zealand, 6 day mountain race Switzerland, 7 day mountain race
Solo and pair journeys in Namibia on foot and by land-rover: Through the Spergerbeit diamond area and NW River Valleys Mata Atlantica, Brazil: Jungle Expedition race
2000 Himalayan 10 day expedition race Himalayan 10 day expedition race
Ladakh Expedition Reconnaissance Borneo 10 day expedition race
1999 BSES Expeditions Tien Shan 2 month Scientific and Exploratory Youth Expedition, (Mountain Leader) Argentina 7 day expedition race

Anna's Early Expeditions

Year

Anna

1998-2000 1998 & 1998 Western Canada & North America: Big Wall Climbing. Squamish with Brian Stuart and Jeff Fedyk
1997 & 1998 Summers in the Alps, Alpine Climbing, in Verdon, Sports Climbing and in the Spanish Pyrenese following a 1996 summer working in Plas y Brenin, Britain's National Mountain Centre in North Wales.
1995 & 1996 Leading commercial rafting trips / office management for Ultimate Descents Nepal. Trekking / Climbing in the Annapurnas, Monaslu / Himal Chuli Area and Helmbu-Langtant Region.
1995 Tibet by Bike: Nepal Kathmandu - Lhasa - Khailash - Everest - Kathmandu by bike: Hitched to Kailash in Western Tibet. Circumnavigated Kailash. Hitched back to the base camp of Everest and biked back to Kathmandu.
1994 Nepal 1992-1993 Working with NUKCFP a DFID Community Forestry Project
1993 Colorado: Ski Mountaineering and cross country ski-touring in the area around Breckenridge.
Ghana 1992, 5-member Scientific Research Expedition working through DFID looking at NTFP usage
1992 El Salvador 1991, working with the FMLN Guerilla army during the UN Peace Accords
USA and Central America: Three months overland travel through the Western United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua: 1992
1991 USA 1991: 2nd year exchange program to the University of Oregon from Aberdeen University. A lot of time climbing /skiing in the Cascades, Three Sisters Wilderness, Mt. Hood, Smith Rocks etc. Various kayak journeys on Oregonian rivers. Canyoneering in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in the Klamath Mountains of SW Oregon within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
1990 Indonesia 1989-1990: Working with BPLP (and helping with Leprosy Mission Projects) in Java & Travelling North to South, solo, through Sumatra including an ascent of Mt Kerinci (after 1 week of trying to find it!).
1989 Indonesia 1989-1990: 1 Year in the Indonesian Archipelago: working in Java and travelling solo / in a group through Balti, Sumbawa and Lombok, including an ascent of Mt Rinjani (before road access).
1988 Indian Himalayan Youth Expedition 1988 with BSES Expeditions. Climbed Masuru Kangri in Ladakh (c. 6000m) at the age of 17 and carried out scientific research in Kashmir, in the Indian Himalayas.

South Pole 2008

Pasi completed the first unsupported Finnish expedition to the South Pole (www.thepole.fi) in 2008. (The website may no longer be live, since we don't host it). It wasn't great timing in that he left Anna to finish the building of, and management of, the farm alone, during its first season, (he left in November 2008 and returned in January 2009), but it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

He and his partner, Poppys, arrived at the South Pole on Christmas Day and, in the process, Poppys became the 12th person in Polar history to have skied unsupported to both poles.

A full South Pole expedition is a c. 1200km / 2-month ski journey, man-hauling all equipment behind you, without support. Many expeditions nowadays choose an easier option and simply say that they have 'skied to the pole' by undertaking a 2 week 'last-degree' journey.

When Pasi returned, on January 3rd, his return co-incided with a cold-spell in Hetta (sub -30C). He said that it was even colder here, than in Antarctica!

The first (full) unsupported South Pole expedition took place by a Norwegian, Erling Kagge in 1992. The first Brit completed the journey in 1996 (David Hempleman Adams) and the only French expedition was in 1998. Three of the members of that French expedition went on to become the first people to the three poles (North, South, and Everest), unsupported.

The 2008 Finnish expedition generated a lot of interest world-wide because of the quality of their reporting, their attitude on the ice, and the ease with which they completed the project. Their website was followed by more than 30,000 different visitors and on one day, alone, they received visits from 8500 unique visitors. They received congratulations from the Finnish president, prime minister and parliamentary chairman.

Check out the timetable of presentations at the local nature centres if you would like to hear Pasi talking about his latest venture.

The expedition was made possible through the support of Sasta, Suunto, Huurre, Jalas and the Scandinavian Outdoor Store.


Kayak Circumnavigation of Svalbard 2008

Unfortunately, having 100+ huskies to look after is no longer compatible with a fully nomadic life-style. Hence, Anna and Pasi started to have to take turns to continue with their adventures...

2008 was supposedly Pasi's year for adventures. He set off, in the summer, with three other Finnish kayakers to attempt a circumnavigation of Svalbard.

Along the way, they saw polar bear and walrus, tested eVent® fabrics for Anna and essentially had a safe journey.

However, as with many early exploratory forays into the wild north, their progress was eventually blocked, at the northernmost tip of Svalbard, by a heavier than normal, and earlier-than normal, concentration of sea-ice. Modern communications and satellite imagery showed them that the ice was not going to open, so, rather than wait like earlier expeditions would have been forced to do, they retreated again South.

The expedition was supported by Rab, eVent®, Raikka, Kayak Sport and Tuu Sport. Retki, the Finnish outdoor magazine, hosted the expedition blog on their website.


Ski-Mountaineering in the Arctic

Ski mountaineering was a passion of Pasi's for many years and he was lucky enough to have adventures in Norway, Finland and Spitzbergen with friends right at the top end of ski-mountaineering in Scandinavia.


By Hands And Feet Across Greenland 2006 Paraplegic Traverse of the Greenland Icecap

In 2006, Anna and Pasi led a pioneering Trans-Greenland expedition with a team of 5 other explorers, including one paraplegic girl.

The inspiration for the journey came from a visit by Karen and other adventure racing friends, in 2004. Skiing through the Finnish landscape had been a revelation for Karen - the first time, since the accident that had left her paralysed, that she had been able to journey under her own power, by land, into the wilderness. She had revelled in the access to the type of silence that you only find in nature, - the creaking snow-covered branches and the whistling of the wind in the trees. These were noises she had craved for many years.

Her enjoyment had been curtailed, however, by the fact that she couldn’t stay outside for long without her feet freezing and cold spots developing on her body since Paraplegics produce no heat from the level of their breaks down. They are, therefore, very quickly at risk of both frostbite and even death, in sub-zero temperatures.

When the seriousness of the situation dawned on the rest of the group we sat down to discuss the challenges that the cold brings to paraplegics. We decided then and there, to not only figure out a way to enable her to continue to enjoy cross country skiing as a sport but to go even further. We had to find a project that would be so inspirational that outdoor companies would be galvanised into developing the winter kit and clothing needed by disabled explorers and winter enthusiasts. Pasi suggested that we cross Greenland and the Greenland project was born.

It took us 2 years, and the co-operation of many outdoor brands, to design and develop the necessary clothing and kit before we set foot on the ice but the journey itself – the easiest part of the project - was a complete success. The 560km crossing itself took just 29 days – the same length of time as most commercial expeditions (despite the team having to pull far heavier loads than normal since Karen's share of the provisions, kit and clothing as well as the additional medical supplies and equipment needed, had to be shared out between the other team members).

Karen’s Commentary: "It was amazing. The toughest physical and mental challenge I've ever voluntarily undertaken, but mostly I remember the freedom of skiing across the ice. There were moments when I was 99.9% dependent on the rest of the team, but there were more times when I was free - free of any ropes, harnesses, need to be towed, to ski alone and enjoy the special-ness of the experience and the place. At those times, I was totally on my own, reading the snow to choose the best route and avoid sastrugi (that lumpy wind-blown ice) that would topple me and punch me into the hard ice.

I smiled inside and out with the sensation of whizzing along, towards the infinite white horizon. I felt lucky to be there, very alive and free. I was very thankful for the friends who had been willing to make this happen for me… Friends willing to do something a bit "different" from normal, to go slower than they might have done, to leave me to zip along like an excited child when I could, and to pick me up and help me when things were tougher. The memories of the Arctic sun sinking low, the ice glittering rainbow colours, the cold air biting and cleansing my lungs, the freedom, will stay with me forever.".

Anna was awarded a Winston Churchill Award in recognition for her leadership of the project and received congratulations from the expedition patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes as well as from David Cameron, Tony Blair and Senator Shane Ross of Seanad Eireann (the Irish Parliament), (who commented that it was rare for David Cameron and Tony Blair to agree on anything)..

The main supporters for the expedition who made it financially possible were eVent® fabrics, NIKE ACG, Rab, Hilleberg and Air Greenland, although over 40 different outdoor companies supported the expedition in different ways.


Lapin Kulta Challenges and Lapin Kulta Freeride Camp Management

During the last few years of professional adventure racing, Pasi was working closely with one of his sponsors, Lapin Kulta, to run annual student challenge races and, later on, free-ride camps. Together Pasi and Anna also organised a promotional heliski camp for Nike ACG press and retailers. All of these adventures were put together in the far north of Finland and a lot of time went into scouting trails and developing good courses.


Lake Ladoga Russia

A 2-week Kayak Journey in the archipelago islands of Russia's large lake, Ladoga.


SAS 'Are you Tough Enough'?

Series 1 of the popular BBC2 Reality TV Show, filmed in the Scottish Highlands.


Namibian Country Director for Raleigh International

Based just south of Windhoek, this post involved setting up charity and environmnental projects (for instance building schools, installing water pumps, renovating wilderness lodges for environmental projects etc) for groups of young people to work on during 3 month back to back expeditions throughout Namibia.


Western Himalayas Reconnaissance Expedition

Climbing / reconnaissance journey in preparation for a 90 pax Scientific Youth Expedition with BSES Expeditions. Various small previously unrecorded 'small' peaks were climbed during this; eg the Peak to West of Kamdar La (19,980ft), WNW of Kiagar Tso in the SE, Tso Moriri region of Ladakh. Loose scree slopes from c. 18,000ft and b) Peak to West of the above mentioned peak. 20,180ft.


Tien Shan Climbing & Scientific Youth Expedition, 1999

Britain has a strong youth expedition culture and over 120 expeditionary organisations send young people to far-flung corners of the world each year. Two of the companies Anna has been associated with over the years are BSES Expeditions and Raleigh International.

Her longest association (starting with her first Himalayan expedition as a ‘young explorer’ at the age of 17) has been with BSES Expeditions, for whom she has also been on the board of directors, run their Young People’s Development Committee, been part of their Expeditions Committee, set up, as Chief Leader, their 2002 Ladakhi Expedition and acted as Chief Mountain Leader for their first Kyrgystan expedition to the Tien Shan Mountain Range. .

In Kyrgystan, she acted as Chief Mountaineering Leader and spent two months being responsible for the mountain training and safety of c. 80 British young people between the ages of 17 and 19, c. 16 young Kyrgystani people and c. 20 science leaders, assistant leaders and support staff. The expedition was in a very remote region. .

She and another co-leader climbed a couple of previously unclimbed peaks, Pk 4276m, (unofficially christened, Mt Emmanna) at the southern end of the Kicjienie Korumdu river valley, to the South of the Sarydzhoz valley, N. of the Inylchyk Glacier Valley, as part of a reconnaissance journey to locate a suitable mountain base.  They also climbed Pk 4525 in the same area.

Anna's group trekked (and then climbed) to Camp 2 (c. 4700m) on Khan Tengri along the Inylcyk Glacier and then up the Siemienouskova Glacier with a selected group of 18 youngsters accompanied by three assistant leaders. The group was roped when the terrain necessitated it and simple movement across the glacier involved setting pitches and jumping fast-flowing glacial streams on many occasions.  During this, climbed Miro Shkina La to Bronenosiets (4400m) in order to look down on Merzbacher Lake. This was supposed to be a trekking pass but was actually more like Scottish 2 – 3.   Also attempted Diki (4832m) at the South of the Inylchky Glacier but bad conditions and lack of suitable belay points for making large party able to move swiftly and safely forced us to turn back.  .

Not content to simply return as normal to the mountain basecamp during the last few days of the expedition, she managed to burst her appendix high on the Inylchek glacier on the way back to Maidadiya and gave in to a kazivac / helicopter rescue after about two days of excruciating pain post bursting later (after having gotten the youngsters back to the edge of the glacier safely)..

Interestingly, hospitals in remote parts of Kyrgyztan expect you to turn up having purchased your own antibiotics, pain killers etc – which she was in no fit state to do – but she was lucky enough to get the resident surgeon on the first of a 6-day stretch of operations. Waking up in a jam-packed ward, on no medication, with surgical gloves with cut-off fingers sticking out of one’s belly (in lieu of drains), however, is always an interesting experience so it was with great relief that she was finally air ambulanced back to the UK two or three days later. All in all, it was a memorable expedition.


Alpine & Sports Climbing Summers: 1997 - 2000

Sports Climbing: Spanish Pyrenese: 1999 & 2000

Vilanova de Meia, Siurana, Montserrat etc (Ferran LaTorre).

Ski mountaineering & general Alpine Play, eg Col de Plan, Valley Blanche, (Joel Blanchin & Peter Allison) and New Year Alpine Skiing with Keith Geddes & Karen Darke.

Big wall and sports climbing: Western Canada and North America

Sports Climbing, Verdon: 1998.

Various routes up to 6c, (Simon Colley, Nina Saunders and John Paul)

Alpine Climbing: French Alps, Chamonoix Summer 1997 - Autumn 1998

Leading - seconding (Simon Colley) various mixed trad / alpine routes, E1 5b - E3 5c / Gd 4 - 6 winter.

  • Contamine Route – Pyramid du Tacul.  With Simon Colley after a bivvy in the Midi Station.  Hard to switch back into predominantly ice climbing.  Nearly backed off half way (AD-).
  • Rebuffat Route.  South Face of the Midi.  TD?  Hard bergshrund + hard start.  Fun route.  Finished by traversing across to the Torino Hut.
  • Dent du Geant – tried alternative route but crossed to standard route once weather looked like it was going to close in (with  Martin Chester and Simon Colley).
  • S. E . Ridge of the Tour Ronde (voie normal) with Martin, Catherine and Simon.
  • Arete de Cosmiques.  Started late in the day and hence there were no other parties on the route so it was lovely.  Welcoming and fun. 
  • Chapelle de la Glier.  V. slow parties ahead of us.  Moved together through them.
  • L’Index – solo speed ascent with Si
  • Papillon Ridge.  Carried too large sacks up and learnt traditional British lessons.  Ended up having to retreat 2 pitches from the top in a lightning storm and just abseiled freely until we hit the glacier below.
  • Petit Aiguille Verte.  With Simon Colley and Rachel? Many many parties ahead of us made this scary.
  • Aiguille de Tour (from the Abri Simmond Hut).  v. easy. 


Tibet: 3 month group and solo exploratory bike journey:

Biked from Kathmandu to Lhasa, in Tibet with a number of people who were biking the same route at around the same time (and breaking off to see different side trips of interest to each of them, along the way).

Once we had recuperated for a while in Lhasa, some of us hitched a lift in a truck out to Kailash in Western Tibet where 8 of us did the classic pilgrim's circumnavigation (but on our feet vs on our hands and knees) before resting for a couple of days beside thermal springs and then heading back across Tibet to the small village of Nyalam, on the main Tibettan Highway.

From there, a couple of us treked / biked to the base camp of Everest and then I stayed there for a while, piggy-backing onto a Spanish / Catalonian expedition attempting the Hornbein Couloir on the North Face of Everest. Dave Breashears and team was one valley across attempting the standard northern ascent route, as part of the first attempt at the IMAX movie at the same time.

I did my first ski mountaineering just below the North Face of Mt Everest en route to the Lo Lha Pass (6006m) and Chong La (6485m) and had a wonderful time until the death of Xavier in an avalanche whilst we were attempting Changzheng, (6913m), E. of Rongbuk Glacier, as an c. 7000m acclimatisation peak. As I tried to climb down to search for his body, the rock crumbled around me and I fell and sustained a long term leg injury. Nevertheless there was no choice but to bike back to Kathmandu irrespective of torn ACL and ankle ligaments.

I had many trips after that time with Ferran La Torre, from the Spanish Expedition and still have some long-term friends from that time.


Commercial Rafting Adventures with Ultimate Descents, Nepal: 1995-1996

I was lucky enough to be invited to work for Dave Allerdice and UD after taking part in a river journey with some of their guides and found myself thrown myself thrown into running their regional rafting office and learning how to steer rafts on some of the most fun rivers on earth. Commercial trips on the Sun Kosi and Karnali were 12 days in length, but there were shorter options on the Kali Ghandaki, Marsyangdi river, Bhote Kosi River and Trisuli.


Community Forestry in Nepal: 1994:

Research work in the Koshi Hills in the Eastern Nepal through DFID / NUKCFP.

Numerous Exploratory Bike Rides around the Kathmandu Valley; eg from Kakani via Dhapasi Bhaktapur, Nagarkot, Nagarjun, Daman, Chobhar gorge, Kirtipur, etc. 

Annapurna Circuit with Side Trips 
Phungi (6398m) – E. of Darapani.
Peak South of Larkya La Pass (5416m).
Base Camp Annapurna and Machapuchare.
Monaslu / Himal Chuli Area with Nick Coffman 
Gurka – Rupina La Pass (4643m) – Gurka.  Out along the Da Rondi Khola and back via Burhi Gandaki Khola.
Peak to NE (5669m) – Chhulung Glacier under E. face of Himal Chuli.
Tried Baudha (6672m) but didn’t have sufficient technical equipment with us since we were doing the whole trip as a self-supporting backpacking venture. 

Helambu – Langtang Region, Nepal:  Over Sarijakund Pass to Gosaikund from Helambu.  To Dunche and then Langtang via Langtang Khola and Lang Shisa Glacier.

Makalu Region, Nepal: Up Arun Valley to Shipton Pass to Barun Khola – Makalu BC – Barun Glacier – Sherpani Coll (6110m)


Uni Climbing Years

Going to school in Aberdeen, Leeds and Oxford opened access to a wide range of climbing venues and styles of climbing / mountaineering across the UK. During her first degree, Anna one of the first students in the UK to benefit from a partial sports scholoarship which included a lot of sessions on optomising and tracking performance. Summers were spent biking around Ireland and working on the beaches with UBM.


3 Months in West Africa: Scientific Expedition

DFID: 3 month 5-member scientific research expedition: 1993 during my undergraduate degree at Aberdeen University.


Summer in Central America: 1992

Three months overland travel through the Western United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua: 1992 

Biked from Kathmandu to Lhasa, to Kailash in Western Tibet, to base camp of Everest and back to Kathmandu.

One and a half months working alongside members of the F. M. L. N. both in San Salvador and in the Northern provinces of El Salvador during the UN-led initiation of the Peace Accords. This included exploratory incursion into the war zone in the far North of El Salvador to establish meetings with still-active FMLN guerilla units.

Accompaniment work; identifying work priorities for future international delegations; working with co-operatives on environmental issues; liaison with newly formed women’s groups and returning for the first time to areas which had been completely closed (even to local civilians) during the Civil War.

Two weeks working for the Zamorano Agricultural College on participatory research projects in rural homesteads in Honduras.

Three weeks trekking / climbing in two mountainous areas within Honduras.


Year in the Pacific North West


1 Year in the Indonesian Archipelago: 1989-90

4 months of predominantly solo travel during a gap year teaching English in a University and carrying out rural extension work with Leprosy Mission.

Travelled extensively in Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores during one year in the area.

3 weeks trekking solo through rainforest in Northern Sumatra: Summer 1990.

Cimbed Mt Rinjani in 1989 (over Christmas) leading a group of 5 others who had never climbed or trekked before.

Climbed Mt Kerinci in 1990 with one other girl. We climbed out of the jungle onto the active volcano to be met by gales and mists which caused her to eventually stop.


Indian Himalayas 1988

This was a Scientific and Exploratory Youth Expedition organised by BSES Expeditions to Kashmir and Ladakh at age 17, as part of the Noyce Fire.