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There is something very strange about grabbing crampons and a rifle with your paddle as you prepare for paddling, then walk to the deck of a sailboat, but this was how our day began. Ben Stookesberry, Pedro Oliva, and I were ascending onto the Braswell Glacier in the Svalbard Archipelago to find a stream large enough to paddle off, into the ocean. Sounds a little crazy, and it certainly felt that way when all I could see on the glacier surface was ice, a storm blowing around us, and a bright red Villain sitting in the middle of it all.

The trip until that point had been relatively normal. There were no tumultuous Arctic seas, calving glaciers, or polar bears. No ice-axes, sailboats, or our supposed bear-defense: a WWII-era antique rifle. There were however about 30 amazing days on the rivers of Norway’s southern fjordlands. Somewhere hyped and built-up to no end actually ended up being as good as it looked, and even though we were late for most popular classics, there is no lack of wild water to keep any paddler happy. From super classics like the Store-Ula to some obscure first descents, our time in Norway lit the fire for more Scandinavian adventures.

After paddling Norway and sailing to the glacier in Svalbard, we thought nothing could beat the adventures we just experienced, but then there was Greenland. Tired as we were from 6 weeks of kayaking, endless travel, and filming the fourth season of the Brazilian TV show KAIAK, nothing reenergized us like stepping foot in Greenland and seeing the expanding potential of this great melting island. As the largest island on earth holding the second largest ice-sheet and the oldest known surface bedrock, there is almost limitless whitewater potential. Almost overwhelmed by all the possibilities, we settled on a river south of Kangerlussuaq that appeared to be one of the longest in Greenland, and plodded through some huge alpine lakes before passing the last bit of ice-sheet and dropping in to a series of massive canyons. It looked like a great challenge, maybe too much, and we found something spectacular in that glacial flow.

We ended up portaging the most significant gorge due to the high water raging through its tight and super-steep chasm, but put in again after a couple cold nights under the Aurora Borealis. To end the river in the ocean after paddling from its essential beginning was satisfying like no river before and ended our Arctic adventure with properly unique river expedition.