Iceland from North to South - A Winter Ski Kite Expedition

Written by: Enora Gelot



Time to read 3 min

On February 24, 2024, from Akurery, in the north of Iceland, the famous navigator and polar explorer Sébastien Roubinet as well as Jean Christian Kipp, vice-president of the Society of French Explorers, are joined by the photographer and adventurer Maxime Mergalet for a crossing of Iceland on kite skis.

This expedition reflects the spirit of adventure that unites these enthusiasts. Their adventure took them through breathtaking scenery, defying the elements throughout their journey.

“A polar adventure, in kite skiing, it’s coming!”

The birth of the kite ski expedition

Once upon a time, there was a story of mentorship and friendship. A few years ago, Maxime contacted Sébastien during his plan to row around Brittany. Their collaboration continued with a trimaran delivery across the Atlantic and a kite skiing session in the Vercors. Sébastien, then become Maxime's mentor, invites him to join the winter expedition organized with his friend and patron, Jean Christian.

The objective of this adventure is simple: to test and prepare each member of the expedition to live independently for two weeks in extreme conditions . This trip allows Sébastien and Jean Christian to prepare for the continuation of the Nagalaqa expedition, and allows Maxime to train for his next polar expeditions.

Members of the ski kite expedition

Sébastien Roubinet - Expedition leader (50 years old)

Renowned adventurer, explorer and navigator, first Frenchman to receive the Shakelton Award. An extraordinary experience which led him to cross unexplored areas by sail: first crossing from west to east of the maritime area bordering the Arctic Ocean by pure sail in 2007 with three crew members.

Iceland kite ski expedition

Maxime Mergalet - Photographer / Videographer & crew (28 years old)

Adventurer and videographer photographer specializing in extreme environments, he received the prize for best mediaman of the Guyader Bermude 1000 Race 2023. He is leading a photographic exploration project in the heart of the glaciers of Europe with the aim of highlighting the results of scientific research on climate change. A human, sporting and committed adventure for the protection of polar ecosystems.

Iceland kite ski expedition

Jean Christian Kipp - Crewmate (64 years old)

Vice-President of the Society of French Explorers. Adventurer, humanitarian volunteer and former major reporter, he has participated in numerous expeditions since the 1980s. He is also president of the Odysseus Foundation for the defense of freedom. He supported and accompanied the beginnings of the Nagalaqa expedition led by Sébastien Roubinet in 2022 in Greenland.

Iceland kite ski expedition

Train and equip yourself

The crossing of Iceland took place in mid-February, to benefit from extreme winter conditions and avoid the polar night which considerably shortens the daylight. The three adventurers are still looking for difficult conditions to be ready for their next adventures.

Iceland kite ski expedition

We asked the team to share their tips for preparing for an expedition in the cold. And of course, you have to prepare… for the cold . It is important to accustom your body to extreme temperatures to increase our resistance to the cold, with ice baths for example.

The second important element: having good general physical preparation. Maxime relies on his daily sports routine that his job, extreme photographer, requires of him.

Finally, the choice of equipment made by Sébastien. It is essential to leave well equipped: warm clothing that fits your size, which protects against climatic conditions and, above all, adapted to your body in the different efforts required by ski touring and kite skiing (movement, sweating, etc.).

The adventurers' locker room






The winter journey of the three adventurers began on 24 February 2024 in Akurery, Iceland. Starting from the last northern route, the team took 10 days and covered 172 km by ski kite to reach the first southern route. The route was slightly modified due to unforeseen weather conditions and extreme conditions where temperatures can drop below minus 22 degrees. The variety of landscapes, from the fjords of the north to the vast plains of the south, added an extra layer of complexity to their already demanding route.

Maxime Mergalet takes a look back at their journey.


Departure from Akureyri in the north of Iceland, at the bottom of Iceland's largest fjord. The group follows the river to make up as many kilometres as possible before nightfall. A temperamental pulka tipped over on the river side, but Maxime's quick thinking and clear-headedness enabled him to get through without too much trouble.

12.79 km

N 65.302621° O 18.257486°

N 65.224313° O 18.223701°

‘Seb at the front, leading the way and looking out for danger, JC following suit and Max closing the gap.


The group advances in sealskin under the sun before setting up a camp, sheltered by the rocks, which will withstand the storm.

25th February

4.31 km

N 65.224313° O 18.223701°

N 65.192855° O 18.221080°

‘It's very instructive to sail with Seb, you can feel his years of experience.’


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