first ascents adventure

DATES: 05 Aug 201817 Aug 2018 TEAM SIZE: 10 COST: £2699 (TBC)

Extremely vast, harsh and undeniably dramatic, dividing the furthest reaches of the North Atlantic, Greenland remains largely unexplored. Its wild, unpopulated Schweizerland Alps are home to a myriad of unclimbed peaks waiting to be pioneered, making this the perfect location for an ambitious exploratory first ascents expedition in 2018.

Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland
Trekking in Greenland

Explore Greenland’s wild and dramatic, glaciated terrain as part of this self-supported, pioneering summer expedition.

After developing basic mountaineering and glacier travel skills on the uninhabited Apusiaajik Island, as part of this exploratory trekking expedition through Eastern Greenland’s wild reaches, your team’s aim will be to successfully complete a first ascent of previously unclimbed and unnamed peak in the Schweizerland Alps: the holy grail of alpine adventure.


  • Trek a highly exploratory route through Greenland’s wild Schweizerland Alps.
  • Aim to summit unnamed, unclimbed trekking peaks.
  • Learn basic crampon, rope and crevasse rescue skills.
  • Tackle all kinds of terrain; from glaciers to alpine plateau and rocky peaks.
  • Keep watch for rare sightings of polar bears.

Schweizerland Alps

Once thought to contain the highest peak within the Arctic Circle, the Schweizerland Alps are an uninhabited mountain range hugging the southern edge of the Greenland ice sheet. A phenomenal trekking region, the terrain is characterised by sweeping glaciers, alpine plateaux and soaring rocky peaks, many of which remain unnamed and unclimbed.

Unclimbed peak

Several unnamed peaks have been identified as possible objectives for this expedition, all of which are believed to be unclimbed. These are not technical routes, that is to say you don’t need experience of rope work or mountaineering, they are trekking ascents.

Exploratory route

Much of this region remains largely unexplored. Its glacial conditions change rapidly meaning that the exact route and itinerary of this expedition will necessarily remain very flexible, until and even while the team is on the ground. For anyone seeking a truly exploratory experience this year, where anything can happen within the framework created by Secret Compass, this is it.

Apusiaajik Island

This uninhabited island is the perfect location to learn and practice basic mountaineering and glacier travel skills. On clear days, they will offer spectacular views of this remote region.

The Plan

Secret Compass runs expeditions with framework itineraries, rather than guided tours with set daily plans. Read more about Our Approach here. The following is the outline plan for this Greenland expedition – the ‘substance’ rather than the specifics. A fuller itinerary is provided in the Greenland Expedition Handbook which is available on request or upon Application to join the team.

Teammates arrive

All teammates fly into Kulusuk on 5 August 2018. Most flights are routed via Reykjavik. You’ll be met by your professional Secret Compass expedition leader at Kulusuk airport before transferring to Kulusuk village for your first nigh and for the expedition briefing.

On expedition

After a boat transfer to Apusiaajik Island, you’ll establish a basecamp for the next few days and practice basic mountaineering skills, glacier travel and crevasse rescue. You’ll then take a boat north to Karale to one of the main glaciers in the region. This will be your access point for the high peaks of Eastern Greenland.

For the next week you’ll tackle the challenging terrain of the Schweizerland Alps each day, setting up camp under the stars each evening. You’ll identify and attempt to summit unnamed trekking peaks en route.

Goal achieved

After a week in the wilderness, you’ll return to Kulusuk by boat for hot showers and a celebratory meal. The expedition will officially end after breakfast on 17 August 2018, with teammates free to depart anytime on or after this date.

Secret Compass expeditions are achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness. Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. As a team member, you should have an adventurous and robust spirit. At a basic level, you should be comfortable jogging for at least 45 minutes and walking for eight hours in the hills, carrying 20kg for three consecutive days. The distances covered each day won’t be significant but the biggest challenge on this expedition will be the long days covering difficult terrain. Teammates must be comfortable with the following.

  • Expedition Grading: 360°.
  • Trek: up to 20km.
  • Carry: up to 20kg.
  • Terrain: over varied terrain including glaciers at altitudes up to 3000m.
  • Climate: to be confirmed.

Applicants will receive a Handbook with further expedition information. View Secret Compass’s suggested Expedition Training Advice and get in touch with any fitness, health, training or kit questions that remain. Teammates who arrive without meeting the agreed minimum fitness requirements can jeopardise themselves and the expedition’s goal so do take training seriously, prepare as appropriate and arrive fit and ready to go!

Previous experience

Team members would benefit from multi-day trekking experience carrying all of their equipment and camping out; experience of this in winter conditions is a bonus. Crampons and ropes will be used on the glacier, however training will be provided so previous experience isn’t necessary.


  • Professional Secret Compass expedition leader.
  • Local guides and drivers.
  • All meals.
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • All specialist and safety equipment.
  • All accommodation.
  • All local permits.

Not included

  • International flights.
  • Local airport taxes and international visas.
  • Tips to local guides (discretionary but appreciated).
  • Beverages and any costs of a personal nature.
  • Personal equipment (your Handbook will contain a kit list).

On application, potential teammates will receive a detailed Expedition Handbook. Here are some expedition-specific questions and our general FAQ will answer many other questions. Get in touch if your question remains unanswered.

I’m a vegetarian. Can I join?

Teammates with dietary requirements are welcome to apply for this expedition and should state their specific requirements when applying. The food situation is outlined in the Practicalities tab.

Can I have a one-person tent?

Secret Compass will provide the tents for this expedition. Teammates will each carry a share of kit and so will be sharing tents on this expedition to keep weight to a minimum.

How do I get to Greenland?

Most flights to Kulusuk depart from Iceland in the morning so you may need to arrive in Iceland the night before. If possible, choose a seat on the right hand side for the flight to Kulusuk to get the best views.

What are crampons?

Crampons attach to the bottom of walking boots to facilitate trekking on snow and ice. For this expedition it is imperative that everyone’s boots are crampon compatible, a B1 rating boot is advised.

Consult your local outdoor shop for advice. Secret Compass will supply the crampons unless you let us know you are bringing your own.

Can I arrive a day late?

As The Plan tab outlines, there is a chain of transport to get teammates out to Apusiaajik Island and the Schweizerland Alps so start and end dates are not flexible.

Can I charge all my electricals?

This will be very challenging with no access to power once the trekking section begins. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries, lightweight solar panels or power packs to avoid frustration.

Will there be telephone signal?

There will be limited signal around Kulusuk but not elsewhere on the expedition.

What about polar bears?

Although sightings are rare, there are polar bears in Greenland and the team should be vigilant. The team will be carrying trip wires and flares as polar bear deterrents. Your experienced Secret Compass leader will provide advice and training during the expedition briefing.

How can I find out more?

Apply for this expedition team using the button on this page to receive your Expedition Handbook with fuller details. Secret Compass is then on hand to answer any questions or to firm up your place on the team.

The Journal

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See you on a team soon…