Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kayaking with the rich and famous

Earlier this week I enjoyed the last kayaking trip this season - it is getting too cold here and I will be leaving for a four month stay in US/Canada in a couple of weeks..... Together with my friend and colleague Ulrik Sørensen I kayaked along the seashore north of Copenhagen between the harbors of Skovshoved and Taarbæk. This piece of shore is among the most expensive addresses in Denmark and it was thus quite interesting to get to see the big mansions close up. When you drive along the road (the famous Strandvejen) you can hardly see the beautiful houses due to big fences, but obviously they have a clear view of the ocean - and thus you have a clear view of them when you are close to shore in a kayak!
On the picture above you see Ulrik in front of Hvidøre from the 18th century which has served as a summer residence, diabetes hospital and most recently as internal conference center for the drug company Novo Nordisk. I was once there for a scientific meeting and it is quite nice! Between Ulrik and Hvidøre you can see the outline of a statue of the famous danish polar researcher Knud Rasmussen.
On the picture right, you see me in front of some impressive houses in my new flashy kayaking suit - as you can see the reflector stripes work quite well!
Well, it was a great after-work-trip, but due to the short days we had to turn around after just one hour and still we returned to the harbour in darkness. Next year I will have to come back in the summer so we can go even further up the shore - it is a beautiful spot!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Home from Svalbard kayak expedition

I just returned from a week long kayak expedtion to the Ekman fjord, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) at almost 79° north. A pretty cold place to kayak (from 0-5 °C in August!) but also one of the most beautiful places I have visited in a long time. It was truely awesome to kayak in such a remote place and look at the spectacular landscape with mountains in very different colors and shapes sprinkled with snow on the summits and glaciers in the valleys. Furthermore, it was fantastic to kayak very close to icebergs and glacier fronts calving ice directly into the ocean with us just a short (but safe) distance away. We had hoped to see a polar bear (at distance!) but only saw their footprints as they had followed the pack ice towards the North Pole. However, we saw lots of other beautiful wildlife - especially the rich bird life.

What a great place - and I am very happy that Norway got the rights of the island group as
they take very good care of this pristine polar region and its fragile wildlife.

Elvira and I will present picture, movies and stories from the trip in the Danish Alpine Club (Løvstræde 8a, 3rd floor, Copenhagen, entrance in the courtyard) on Thursday September 27 at 8 PM. Free entrance - all are welcome!

Also - follow the website where a travel report will be posted soon.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunset kayaking in Tisvildeleje

Tisvildeleje is a small idylic ocean village located on the north coast of Zealand. In my view it is one of the most beautiful places in Denmark with great beaches, big sand dunes and the interesting troll forest. This Thursday evening Elvira and I went kayaking up there in the sunset:

Elvira kayaking with the beach, sand dunes and forest in the background.

One of the funny looking trees in the troll forest.
Two centuries ago the land was cleared of bush and trees to facilitate agriculture - with the devastating result of introducing sand drift inland which eventually burried a small town. In order to stop the sand drift a new forest was planted which is now a beatiful place with lots of odd looking trees - thus the name "troll forest".

Elvira rowing back to Tisvildeleje in the sunset.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Training for my next trip: Kayaking in Spitsbergen

To celebrate my 40th birthday in August, my wife Elvira has given me a trip to Spitsbergen (Svalbard) where we will be kayaking for a week at 7o° N latitude! I am pretty psyched by the prospect of kayaking in the icy waters among lots of interesting wildlife. On one side I also hope to see polar bears, but not too close to my kayak of course!

We both have some experience with kayaking and canoing, but thought that we should get to a higher level before engaging in such a wild trip.
This weekend we thus met with my climbing friend Martin Ploug, who is one of Denmark's highest accredited kayak instructors. One of the main purposes of the weekend endeavors was to enter and exit the kayak under all kind of conditions.
We were thus taught partner rescue and self rescue using a paddle float (which is what Martins demonstrates with Elvira watching on the picture on the right).
Most importantly, we also trained how to stay in the kayak whenever possible by either making quick moves with the paddle - or by the reputed kayak rolls.
Much to my surprise, I was able to make a 180° C to C roll on my second attempt. Finally, just before we stopped the training I tried to pull a 360° Eskimo roll - and succeeded! Wow - I could hardly believe my own eyes when I came to a stop on top of the water after rolling all the way under the kayak. Elvira shot a short video of Martin (in front) and myself (in the back) making Eskimo rolls, which you can download in iPod format by clicking here.
Very cool weekend - and now I cannot wait for the trip to Spitsbergen!

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