During his entire childhood, Rune Krogh (31) would use the Svartisen glacier as his playground. It was a special adolescence – one that today earns him a living.
- I grew up in Neverdal, Meløy, near the Svartisen glacier. The mountains have been my playground for as long as I can remember. Following on from that this nature, the glacier and perhaps the slightly extreme, has become my road and passion in life, Krogh says with a smile.
The glacier has provided the 31-year old with tremendous opportunities. Today he places all his efforts into his company ‘Beyond Limits’. He quit his offshore job, and rather than spending periods at home and periods at work, his whole life now focuses on expeditions, people, his family and the immediate proximity to the North Norwegian nature.
- Svartisen is Norway’s largest diamond, a hidden pearl. The driving force from me stems from taking people with me out and providing them with endless, spectacular and truly extraordinary experiences, letting them experience Nordland county from a unique perspective, the adventurer says.
Skiing and dogsledding in the summer without running into one single person. Paddling in iridescent green icy lakes and climbing floating icebergs. All of this with the mountains – the spectacular mountains – framing the surroundings.
- Getting up and on top of the glacier is rather steep and quite hard, however, the reward when you get there makes it worth every single step of the way. In the summer and fall we start with a heavy pulk that we have to carry up steep hills and across challenging rivers. Then we walk on with crampons before pulling the monstrous pulk up to the first snow. After that, there’s just blue skies and endless days in paradise, Krogh says.
Rune remembers himself as a hardworking boy. As a child, he was always the last one to come home from a trip. When he grew older, he would often set out fishing nets on his way to school or search for sheep cadavers in the mountains for pocketmoney.
- Or as the one who bought his first fishing boat at the age of 12 to start selling fish, Rune says with a smile.
A guy who was very independent and always saw opportunities and looked for challenges.
- I am the kind of guy who always managed on his own. I always spent a lot of time hovering over maps, wondering what it would be like at this place or that – what it would look like in real life. So I put my backpack on and go, and often stay away for weeks, the founder says.
He would look for undiscovered caves, explore and learn to master nature on his own. Was happy to go to the point of no return; to go so far that he could not turn back again because the road home would be too far. Experiencing natural elements that he had to fight to participate in became a kick, reaching that place where the limits were stretched while his soul was at ease.
- Svartisen is a generous host, and it provides you with an opportunity of winter in the middle of the summer, Krogh says.
Ice-climbing, skiing, kayaking or dogsledding under the midnight sun is a great experience.
- Nevertheless, we live by the coast and walking on the ice is not always safe. So my top-level education as a rope technician is of tremendous value. Rope rescue is something I am really familiar with, and I have contributed many times to rescue missions on the glacier. But then again, I have crossed this glacier quite a few times now. I know where there is movement, and I have learned to read the glacier’s cracks fairly well, Krogh says.
He worries about a decreasing glacier.
- There will not be many years now before the Svartisen glaciers has shrunk so much that it is no longer Norway’s second-largest glacier anymore, he says.
It has taken time to familiarize himself with the glacier. A strong desire to explore and a solid dose of curiosity over many years has provided the explorer with a solid foundation for making the glacier his living.
- The glacier consist of two halves, and we refer to them as the ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ parts. Like I said, it’s hard to get on top of it but once you do, it feels as if you have arrived at the moon, with a view of sparkling blue fjords and barren land. It is utterly magical, Krogh says.
The sleddog dream
When Rune met his partner Sabrina, the dream of having his own sleddog team caught speed. He was working offshore at that time, being a rope technician at Aker Solutions.
- My uncle Karl Våtvik runs Svalbard Villmarkssenter (Wildlife Centre), and he has always been one of my idols. I always dreamt of running sleddogs, like he does. So when I and Sabrina moved in together it did not take me long to negotiate may way to a husky, Krogh says.
One became two, two became four. As it often happens when bitten by the sleddog bug.
- The we bought our farm in Spilderdalen. Suddenly we had what we needed to build a large dog yard. Today we organize trips where we walk across Norway with dogs carrying dogpacks. It is really nice. People bond with the dog they use along the walk and trust me; there are some tearful goodbyes at the end of each trip, Krogh says.
He has 16 dogs today. All get on well, are calm and friendly.
- It is crucial for us that the dogs get on well with people and each other, and it is important for me that dogsledding remains ‘my thing’. I do not want to spend my dogs sledding for tourists. The dogs only join us on longer trips, not on shorter trips that would just wear them mentally out, he says.
It can be hard to live your childhood dream, to not be able to separate work from leisure and to have to be ‘on’ all the time. Krogh has not had one day off in the period between May and October this year.
- I had to leave my dogs in someone else’s care a while back, and I have stopped doing one-day trips with tourists, he says. – I have had to see what I can manage and what not, to sort it out in my head and find out where my passion lies. I landed on doing tailor-made trips. The genuine and unique adventures keep me running, the founder says.
That would often min trips with youth at risk, elderly people and people with mobility impairments, in addition to tourists from around the world – often those seeking that little extra.
- I really want to give to other people, to let them get a taste of what I have been fortunate to experience myself. And then I have become a father too. That requires something. However, I have a lot more time with my daughter now than when I worked offshore. Back then, a lot of our dialogue happened via Skype. Today, I have time to pick her up from kindergarten, Rune says with a smile.
Little Iza spends much of her childhood in the outdoors. She was only one year old when daddy Rune and mummy Sabrina took her on an ‘Across Norway’ adventure trip.
- My favourite expedition of all times is beyond doubt the one to the North Pole. However, the adventure with Iza is the one that has really left marks on me, albeit in a different way. Like when she used our tent as a bouncing castle and we were living off fish and berries.
Iza has already participated on several tenting trips and small expeditions on the dogsled. It is important for her father that the little one gets a flavor of what fills his heart – being in the outdoors and together with the animals.
- She has already learned to climb mountains. She uses a zipline and walk on a line. And you know, she even has seven hens that she is looking after, and at home she has a hammock in our living room. Early practice makes the master, Krogh says with a laugh. He believes growing up with animals and responsibility will contribute to making his daughter as independent as he is himself.
In addition to running his own adventure company, Rune is one of the guides for Norwegian polar explorer Børge Ousland. The coming April he will lead an expedition through the North-West Passage.
- We will walk across the sea ice from Cambridge Bay to Gjoa Haven, some 400 kilometres of skiing with customers. This is a great experience for me as a guide. It gives me credibility and people who come to Svartisen and ‘Beyond Limits’ know that they can trust me, Rune says.
He has invested more than NOK 2 million in equipment and security equipment, emergency locator beacons and satellite-based communication equipment that is always with him on expedition when exploring the extreme.
- We always focus on safety. Svartisen has no established trails and there are vast areas without mobile phone connection, he says.
- Svartisen is Norway’s second largest glacier and covers an area of appr. 370 sq kilometres
- The glacier is located in Nordland County and stretches through Rana, Meløy and Rødøy municipalities
- The Arctic Circle crosses the southern part of the glacier
- The name ‘Svartisen’ literally means ‘the Black Ice’. The name refers to an old term describing the characteristic deep blue colour of the glacier’s ice
- Svartisen is a typical plateau glacier. It has a flat plateau area on top consisting of two glaciers, the eastern glacier and the western glacier
- The big melt of Svartisen glacier started in 1923, when it started shrinking in the Glomdalen area. Since then, the glacier has largely shrunk.
- Svartisen is home to the Svartisen poppy, a poppy existing only on the rim of Svartisen glacier. This ancient flower survived the last ice age through growing on the mountain tops that were not covered by ice.