East Greenland Glacier Circuit - GRL65

Let your cross country skis bring you adventures!

Icebergs and skiers on the pack ice
Photo: Jóhanna Björk, IMG

Icebergs and skiers on the pack ice

Walk on water... frozen water... or Pack ice.
Photo: Jóhanna Björk, IMG

Walk on water... frozen water... or Pack ice.

Tour type: cross country ski tour




Price from:  

Adult: 265885

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What's included: Guide, food for 8 days, all transportation, accommodation, pulka rental

Departures: 4- 11 April 2020

Duration: 8 days

Accommodation: Hostel and tents

Meeting point: The domestic airport in Reykjavík

Group size: 4-12 participants

Language: English

  • Tour Description

    Highlights of the Tour

    • Unique Cross Country Skiing on Pack Ice
    • Glaciers and Icebergs in their winter costume
    • Winter Camping in serene locations 

    Cross country skiing expedition and camping around Apusiaajik Glacier in East Greenland 

    The Apusiaajik Island in East Greenland is the perfect destination for a winter cross country skiing adventure. Its magnificent mountains, sharp granite peaks and snow covered glacier calottes decorate the landscape looming above the fjords dotted with icebergs. The friendly atmosphere of the local Inuit population and the assurance of great amount of snow make this one of the best winter adventures one can experience. On this tour we will cirquit around the Apusiaajik Island from Kulusuk We will carry our gear on pulkas, so we can improvise if needed or required. We start and end our tour in Kulusuk, our home village, where we introduce you to the local hunters and craftsmen. The adventures do not get much more real than this!

    Total distance: 90 kilometers (55 miles)
    Altitude: 0 - 500 meters (0 - 1640 feet)
    Walking/Skiing per day: 6-8 hours
    Maximum ascent: 450 meters (1640 feet)

    Included: Guide for 8 days, food for 8 days (from lunch day 1 to lunch day 8), 4 nights camping, 3 nights in a hostel, pulka rental.

    Not included: Flight from Reykjavík - Kulusuk - Reykjavik (can be added on the first and last day of the trip, from around 910 € return), personal equipment, insurance or costs due to bad weather or unforseen conditions.

    Accommodation in Reykjavík can be added. 

    If you have questions, please check our FAQs. If you do not find the answer please contact us: booking@greenland.is


  • Tour Itinerary

    Day 1: Reykjavík - Kulusuk
    We fly from from Reykjavík to Kulusuk in the late morning and because of time difference we arrive late morning in Kulusuk as well after our 2 hour flight. We load our pulkas and do our first Greenland skiing to the village. It is a nice 3 km warm-up. We settle at a cosy cabin hostel in town for the night and go over the plan for the next days. Before dinner, we explore town and the surroundings, ending at the local supermarket where we stock up on the food we are missing for our adventure. 

    Night in a sleeping bag accommodation in the village.

    Skiing: 5 km (3 miles), 2 hours
    Ascent/Descent : 200 m

    Day 2 : We head out on the Pack Ice
    The adventure turly begins today. We ski down to the pack ice and towards our glacier island, Apusiaajik. We start by following the tracks of the dogsled hunters, making it comfortable to ski in. We then cross to the east side of the island where we find a good spot to set up camp. Night in a tent. 

    Skiing: 18 km (11 miles), 6 - 7 hours
    Ascent/Descent : 100 m

    Day 3 : Icelocked Icebergs 

    We continue our skiing on the packice, but we take a detour out of the dog-sleding "highway" to exlore beautiful cliffs, an ancient winter house location and the giant icebergs, frozen stuck in the pack ice. We set up camp around mid day and continue our exploration without our pulkas. Night in a tent.

    Skiing: 20 km (12,5 miles), 6 - 7 hours
    Ascent/Descent : 100 m

    Day 4: On the Pack Ice Towards Apusiaajik

    We backtrack a little bit today, back towards Apusiaajik island and end on the northern side of it. We enjoy sking on the flat surface of the pack ice. We are one quite wide fjords now, so the panorama is great. Night in a tent.

    Skiing: 15 km (9 miles), 6 - 7 hours 
    Ascent/Descent : 100 m

    Day 5: To the Glacier Camp

    Today is a great day. We go off the pack ice now, and continue on land towards the glacier part of the island we have been circling. We ascend about 300 m in total this day, and end with a great view over the island and the glacier. We find a flat spot on the glacier and set up camp for the last time. This will be epic! Night in a tent.

    Skiing: 15 km (9 miles), 6 - 7 hours 
    Ascent: 300 m

    Day 6: Glacier exploration and Return to the Village 

    After having spent the night on the glacier, you must be eager to get to know it up close. This is our mission today. We ski down where we have a perfect view of the ice edge. We then ski even further down to get an up close view. The last strech is to close our circuit and ski back on the hunter's tracks to the village of Kulusuk. 

    Skiing: 19 km (12 miles), 6 - 7 hours 

    Descent : 300 m

    Day 7: DIE 4 Radar Satation

    Being back in town, we still have a day to spend exploring and skiing. We ski to the site of the Cold War radar station Dye 4 at the top of Kulusuk Island, or Kap Dan as it is often referred to by Americans. The radar station has been dismantled but is serves as a great view point. To the west we will see the mountains of the neighbor Ammassalik Island and to the north Aputsiak Island, our great achievment.

    Skiing 17 km (10,5 mi), 5 - 6 hours
    Ascent/ descent: 300 m

    Day 8: Return to Reykjavík

    Take in the last deep breath of the fresh Arctic winter air before heading back home. We have an early afternoon flight back to Iceland. We make the most of it and go by skis the 3 km from the village to the airport - our last ski trip for now. 

  • Gear Lexicon

    Cross Country Skiing - IMG 53

    What is Cross Country skiing?

    The Cross Country / Nordic Skiing tours by IMG are either based from huts or they are full-on expeditions with a combination of huts and tents.  Cross Country skis are about efficiently travelling on relatively flat snow-covered ground. The hut based tours should be doable for most fit and able guests. The expeditions will require a higher level of fitness and some experience is required for IMG expeditions. This information is for the hut based tours.  If you are planning to join one of our expeditions, please use a detailed gear list from the expedition department. 

    Jacket with a good hood (wind and waterproof)


    ME Manaslu

    We recommend a water resistant or waterproof “hard-shell” jacket with a large protective hood, and a Gore-Tex membrane, or similar material, to keep you dry. Make sure it is not too tight and that you can fit insulation underneath. Please note that a soft-shell jacket is a great addition but will not replace a waterproof hard-shell when you really, really need one! Good rain-gear – tops and bottoms are mandatory on all IMG tours.

    Hard shell pants (wind and waterproof)


    Ideally the hard-shell-pants should be lightweight – as they will be in your backpack most of the time. If they have zip-up legs to ease getting into it is a big bonus. Make sure they are breathable and strong enough to take some abuse from walking.  We often see cheap rain pants disintegrate during the tour.  Gore-Tex or similar waterproof breathing membrane is appropriate. Good rain gear – tops and bottoms are mandatory on all IMG tours.

    Base layer


    Bergans Merino

    The most popular thin base layer (next to skin) is made with merino wool because it is comfortable to wear for multiple days without the smell of synthetic materials. Most people should be fine with wearing the same merino shirt for 2 – 3 days on harder tours where weight matters. A thicker base-layer for colder days could also be a part of your adjustable layering.  We recommend packing short and long sleeve options to adjust to different weather conditions.  Women might want a sports bra as a part of their base layer. Cotton t-shirts are not advisable for any strenuous outdoor activity.

    Insulation layer

    A fleece jacket is a classic insulating layer material. Wool is also a good option. It is possible to layer up – two thin jackets or a jacket and a vest rather than one very thick jacket.

    Hiking pants


    Soft shell is strong and durable, wind resistant and quick drying – ideal for any outdoor activity. Some might consider a thin base-layer (long-johns) for extra insulation on colder days.  Jeans and other cotton pants are not advisable for any outdoor activity. 

    Hands, feet and head:


    ME Knitted beanie

    Gloves: A light pair of fleece or wool gloves/mittens does the job. You can also take a pair of ski-gloves or other wind and waterproof shell gloves. Having an extra pair of different thickness is recommended. 

    Socks: Wool is the preferred material for skiing socks, and different blends are available. If you are prone to blisters or have new boots, you should consider wearing a thin liner sock underneath your socks in your ski boots. Make sure you have a few pairs of socks to use to keep your feet dry.

    Warm hat: A normal ski-hat/beanie is perfect. You can also use a thick buff. An extra buff is nice to have - you can use it to protect your neck and face when needed, or as a thinner option for a hat. 

    Puffy Jacket


    ME Compressor Hooded Jacket PrimaLoft

    A light puffy is great during breaks. The insulation could be down or synthetic material (such as Primaloft). It should not be very big or bulky for summer time use. Synthetic insulation is preferred as it keeps most of its insulating properties when wet, but down is also a good option.  A puffy vest is a good option as well.

    Casual clothes / change of clothes

    Once in the hut, it is good to be able to change out of your trekking gear. We highly discourage you from wearing cotton clothing (including jeans!) while skiing or hiking but you are welcome to wear them in the hut/tent in the evening. If it is cold, a warm sweater (jumper) or an extra fleece jacket is always nice. We always recommend having a few pairs of comfy socks and some fresh underwear.  Avoid bringing too much extra clothing. Life in the mountains is simple and nice, so one pair of extra pants, a warm sweater (jumper), a few t-shirts and underwear should do the job just fine. Light sneakers and slippers for indoor use will feel great at the end of the day

    Sunglasses, sunblock and Goggles

    Playing in the snow you will need sunglasses. When the sun comes out the reflection from the snow can be quite strong so we would recommend a quality pair. The reflection can also do damage to unprotected skin – so a small tube of sun-block SPF 25 – 50 is advised.
    When the wind picks up your will need a pair of Goggles, any pair of ski-goggles that fits your face will do. The bigger the better. 


    You might want a pair of gaiters for those times when you step of your skis. Some modern ski-boots close up quite tight making gaiters unnecessary.  

    Water container / thermos flask

    In Iceland & Greenland, you can drink from any stream, no filters, no iodine and no chlorine needed! It is good to have a small water bottle at hand. A 1L bottle should be plenty, as water is easily found all over. If you prefer warm drinks, we are happy to fill up your thermos in the morning and a selection of teas will be available. Very dedicated tea drinkers often bring an emergency stash of their favorite brand. Those who like cold drinks might like to bring their favorite powdered vitamin/energy drink. 

    Sleeping Bag Hut

    The mountain-huts during the summer are usually warm, although most are not heated during the night. Any old sleeping bag will therefore do, unless you get cold easily. For temperature control having a full length zipper is the best. A liner bag is also a very nice addition and will improve your ability to regulate your head during the night.  If you are doing a winter hut trip or summer camping a 3 season sleeping bag would be sufficient. All the huts we use have mattresses on the beds so no need to bring your own for huts.  

    Backpack / day-pack


    Love Alpine AirZone Trek 30L

    You will need a nice daypack to carry your extra clothes, river crossing shoes, food and water for the day. Having a compartment for smaller items like sun screen and sunglasses is also good. The pack will never be heavy, but a bit of padding on the shoulder- and hip straps/belt with a buckle is good. Unless you have some bulky personal needs, like photographic equipment, then you should be fine with 20-30L (1200 - 2000 cu in).

    Thermal mattress

    It is really nice to have a small thermal mattress to sit on during lunch break and other stops.  It should not be big, just enough to sit on. And it should fold up nicely so it does not get in the way inside your pack. 



    ME Wet & Dry bag

    On many of our tours your overnight gear is going to be transported from hut-to-hut / camp-to-camp and space is limited. We therefore ask you to pack your gear in a soft bag rather than a regular hard suite case, since this is more space-efficient. A 60 - 80L bag should be more than enough for all your extra kit including a sleeping bag.  If it is reasonably waterproof that is a big plus. 


    There are plenty of different products available for storing your equipment inside your pack and keeping it dry. A rain cover over your pack often has limited use due to high winds– a safer option is to pack whatever needs to be kept dry into dry-bags inside your back-pack. It is also a great way to organize the inside of your pack. One bag for electronics (camera and phone) and one bag for extra clothing, as an example. Note that dry-bags were out and might not be as dry as they were when you first bought them. 



    Even though the summer night is bright, the inside of the hut/tent might not be. A headlamp is also useful for those that want to do some reading. There are plenty of options available for LED head lamps that are just perfect for reading and getting around. A small flashlight will also do the job. Most LED headlamps have more than enough light for our purposes and the battery life is so good that one fully charged battery will be enough for your trip.  

    Personal first-aid-kit

    All the guides on our tours will have a first-aid kit available. However, it is still nice to have some small items for minor injuries. Band-Aids, Compeed for blisters, pain killers and/or anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended personal first-aid kit items.  

    Personal items


    Make sure to have all your prescription medication with you. If you have any medical condition that could in any way affect you during the trip, make sure to let your guide know. For those suffering from allergies, having an antihistamine is advisable – or any other medication that works for your condition. Items for personal hygiene should also be included, such as a small bar of soap or some liquid hand soap. We recommend packing a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental-floss. Avoid liquid antiperspirant and glass containers due to risks of spillage. Feminine products like pads, tampons etc. should also be packed, if needed. If you take vitamins or other supplements, you should continue to do so during your holiday. In most cases, you are sharing sleeping facilities with one or more fellow travelers – so a pair of good ear-plugs can ensure a good night’s sleep. Those not accustom to the bright summer nights might want to bring an eye mask.  Please make sure to pack extra contact lenses (if needed), contact lens cleaning solution, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in small plastic bottles that close tight. A big towel is nice to have – especially if you are taking a bath in one of the natural hot-pools. 

    Swim suit

    Bathing in the natural hot pools will be one of the highlights of your trip in Iceland. Make sure you come dressed for the occasion. There are no specific rules, written or unwritten on how to dress or not to dress; board shorts, speedos, bikinis or bathing suits – anything goes. Quick drying material is always a good idea. 

    Cross Country skis gear

    Ski equipment can be rented through Icelandic Mountain Guides. The equipment you need is nordic ski-gear designed for backcountry use.

    Ski Boots:

    The first requirement is that your ski-boots must fit the binding system your intending to use (see ski-equipment). For the type of touring on IMG trips we would recommend a sturdier type of a boot, often referred to as BC for Back-Country. Rental skis in Iceland come with a 3-pin 75mm binding.


    Nordic skis for backcountry use. They will be wider than skating skis or skis made for a fixed track. Some BC skis will also have steel edges for better side grip. Steel edges are good but not required.

    The “kick-zone” in the centre of the ski can be either waxless = fish scales or wax-able. If you go for wax your will need to be able to select the right one and deal with the wax on your own. Most of our guides will go wax-less and have limited experience with wax. The reason being the variable snow and weather conditions – and waxless being more reliable and simpler at the cost of speed an noise.


    Nordic ski poles with a large basket will do the job. You can also go for telescope poles for alpine ski touring if you can safely extend them to reach to about your armpits. 

    Wax / Klister:

    If you have skis that need wax / klister in the kick-zone make sure to take a good variety, we can expect -15°C and dry snow to +10°C with wet snow or anything in between.  Iceland is not the place to start experimenting with wax – but if you are already efficient, go for it!


    You are welcome to have NNN or 3-pinn. Just make sure the binding fits your boots and everything is in good condition. For the NNN we would highly recommend having the stronger BC versions.
    If you are renting skis and not boots, then we can only supply skis with 3-pin 75mm bindings. 

    Other cool things to have

    Book – to read during the evenings. 

    Music - and head phones. Some of our guides also have speakers with them to share Icelandic music. 

    Diary or notebook – to write down your good memories from Iceland. Also, a pen or pencil

    Power-bank / extra battery for your electronics – small solar cells usually do not work that well in Iceland, so a pre-charged power bank is a better option.  Charging your electronics in huts in the highlands often is not an option or will cost you extra. Make sure you have an adapter plug and/or a voltage converter for 220 V. 

    Playing cards and travel games – or other toys you might like and can travel. 

    Cash – showers in mountain huts normally cost about 500 ISK and take 100 ISK coins. 

    Travel pillow – if it is not very bulky. Otherwise, you can just use your clothes. 

    Powder drink mix – Good water is never a problem – but you might like a bit of variety. Some powders contain vitamins and minerals that help your body after a hard day.  

    Shorts - It does get warm enough to wear shorts on occasions. They are also nice for sleeping in, and can be worn if you need to get out of your sleeping accommodations at night. For hiking, it is nice to have some pockets to hold items that would normally be in the pockets of your pants. But any old pair of shorts will do.

    Aperitif of other heart-warming spirits

    Aperitif or other heart-warming spirits - Liquor laws in Iceland prohibit the sale of alcohol in most places you come by on your trip in the highlands. Additionally, limited opening hours prevent you from buying alcohol in most places unless you are staying in a hotel. Having a flask (preferably plastic or metal) to share with your fellow travellers in front of the camp fire (gas heater) can be a great way top off a good day. You can buy alcohol in the duty-free shops upon your arrival in Iceland. Just follow all the Icelanders on your flight – they will take you straight to duty-free! Also, there are government run alcohol stores in Reykjavík called Vínbuðin.  If time allows, you can purchase alcohol there but alcohol is much less expensive in the duty-free shops at the airport. 

    On trips to Greenland, you can buy alcohol in the duty-free shop on arrival in Iceland. Duty free in Kulusuk, Greenland does not sell high % spirits – but if you make it to the supermarket they will have beer. 

    Gear shopping in Iceland

    Already in Iceland and need to grab some extra gear? No worries. There are a few shops in Reykjavík to go to (remember to ask for a VAT refund slip when you buy over 5000 ISK, which will save you 14%):

    Íslensku Alparnir: alparnir.is/  this is where IMG gets its Mountain Equipment gear, much of with is featured on the pictures above – can’t go wrong there.

    GG-Sjósport: www.gummibatar.is/ great products, but not in the downtown area.

    Laugavegur: the main shopping street downtown has a few stores, including some local brands like 66°North and Cintamani.

    Kringlan & Smáralind are the indoor shopping centers in Iceland – both have outdoor adventure equipment stores and are open on Sundays.

    For your own wellbeing and safety, we strongly suggest following the advice of our equipment list -  this includes having good quality rain-gear, tops and bottoms!  Also respect that cotton clothing is not appropriate for any strenuous outdoor activity – this includes jeans and t-shirts. Modern outdoor clothing is by far more comfortable and will greatly improve your experience.  Should you have any questions regarding this equipment list or the equipment on our tours, feel free to contact incoming@mountainguides.is

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