EXPLORE — INSPIRE — ACT: Our mission is to save our planet!
TOPtoTOP is the first expedition to traverse the seven seas and reach the highest peaks on each of the seven continents, connecting with all climates and relying only on the power of nature and the human spirit. ‘Along the way we have discovered good solutions for our climate and inspired more than 130,000 students in more than 100 countries through presentations and actions. Our message is one of hope, designed to inspire students and communities to act for a better future by sharing experiences of nature’s beauty and resiliency, and presenting innovations for a healthy planet’. Dario Schwörer
For more than 18 years, Dario & Sabine Schwörer, their family and volunteers have circumnavigated our blue planet to every climate zone, witnessing examples of climate change and its effect on communities, conducting field-based research for universities, scientists and research organizations, and sharing examples of innovative solutions they have learned along the way to protect, preserve and conserve our planet. At the core of their expedition, they meet with students at schools and community groups, organize clean-up campaigns, and present examples from around the world of counteracting global climate change by living in an environmentally sustainable manner. Their recent project was to support collecting climate samples in East Greenland for the “EAGRE 18” research program and combine it with their activism and engagement in Inuit communities. In this report, Dario and Sabine elaborate about their expedition, its goals, annual highlights for 2018, as well as their strategy, route, outlook and how you can support them in their amazing challenge to save the planet.
Our Progress — how we meet our goals
In 2018 we visited many schools and all universities in Iceland with our program, before crossing part of the Arctic Ocean from Northern Iceland to East Greenland and further from Greenland back to Iceland, and to the Faroe Islands into the Norwegian Sea, where we entered the North Sea sailing between the Shetland and Orkney Islands. The North Sea weather forced us to stay on the British coast. We had quite a challenge crossing the North Sea to Amsterdam, needing to avoid all the oilrigs and shallow spots that steep seas. In the Netherlands we sailed from Amsterdam on the North Sea Canal into the Ijsselmeer to Medemblik, where we winterized Pachamama. There we re-assembled our bicycles thanks to our founding member Peter Storm. We cycled all the way up the Rhein River through 6 countries visiting schools along the way. We have just arrived at the source of the Rhein River and will visit more schools in the next months.
We have already accomplished a lot this year:
- distance sailed: 2,600 nautical miles (of a total of 109,100nm)
- distance climbed: 50,000 altimeters (of a total of 460,000m)
- distance cycled: 2,000 kilometres (of a total of 21,600 km)
- number of attendees at presentations: 10,000 (of a total of 130,000)
- plastic collected in clean- ups: 3,000 kg (of a total of 58,000 kg)
Our major highlights this year:
The TOPtoTOP Global Climate Expedition and Northeast Greenland Caves Project have teamed up for an adventure-based climate-research expedition to EAst GREenland (= EAGRE 2018). In the summer of 2018, after a long repair and preparation period, the aim of EAGRE 2018 was to explore the region for its caves, map and document our findings, and collect geological samples for climate-change research. Along the way, we engaged with Inuit communities on issues of climate change, did clean ups and inspired them to take up outdoor sports. By sailing, we were able to reduce our carbon footprint.
This year, we also continued the systematic recording of whales. For the IPRC, we continued to gather statistics concerning Maritime Debris (pollution) as well as wildlife and climate data.
Some other highlights:
- A variety of environmental activities from Greenland to the Alps
- Community actions to fight plastic waste and Clean-Ups at many beaches and along the Rhein River
- Going electric, thanks to the electric motor supplied by ‘Elco’ in New York
- Presentations to schools and universities in each destination
- Speaking at the ‘Artic Circle Conference’ Reykjavik, the Explorers Club in New York and the “Grande Crosieres Conference” in Paris
- Present at the Explorer’s Club Polar Film Festival in New York
- Our “Climate Solution Contest” met with great interest around the world
- The media coverage was, as usual, very high: see https://toptotop.org/about/press/ . Everywhere we travelled the media were interested in an interview. In all destinations, TV, radio and print media reported very positively about the TOPtoTOP actions.
Our biggest challenge
At the beginning of November 2017, a brutal storm badly hit our expedition boat Pachamama in the harbor of Akureyri. The surveyor of the insurance estimated that the repairs would take less than 3 weeks to complete and that they could easily done in Akureyri. It was for that reason that the damaged boat was not transported to a proper yacht facility in Europe. In fact, Pachamama was not operational for nine months because of delays in the shipyard and we had to find alternative accommodation 12 times in total for the whole crew (up to 13 people) during this period. Thanks to the hospitality of local friends, we survived, but at a high cost. We nearly lost all our energy and spirit. Without our volunteer “Mirjam”, who was looking after our kids, it would have been impossible to work at the shipyard every day and also keep up our mission in schools and clean-up activities going. Unfortunately the surveyor also totally underestimated the costs of the repairs, so that the money from the insurance was not enough. Pachamama is now in the Netherlands, where we will finish the remaining jobs and shortcomings over the winter. See what happened: https://vimeo.com/242141866
Our Strategies — how we act
Our belief ‘to go together is to go far’ is a success: The family members and volunteers have gone far again this year and managed to repair the damaged expedition boat and still continue their mission. Difficult pack-ice conditions in August caused some challenges in East Greenland during the EAGRE expedition to get to caves at the Wegener Halvø peninsula about 70 degrees North and later to circumnavigate of Milne Land. To be successful in Scoresby Sund, a mix of being patient and acting fast as soon as a lead opened was required. We wish to adopt this strategy more and more in our activism. Thanks to the International Arctic Science Committee we have collaborated with even more researchers interested in collecting data on our expedition to get a better understanding of what is happening with Pachamama. The idea is also to connect locals we meet in our actions with joining researchers to open new opportunities for both.
Our strategy to reach out more to get the media involved worked very well. This approach also helped us to get in contact with the school authorities to organize events and actions.
We learned that our message is so much more powerful when our children and younger volunteers started to talk to their peers of the same age. Here is an example of 6-year old Alegra inspiring Inuit kids to climb: https://vimeo.com/229485340
We received activity feedback from TOPtoTOP members in 22 countries. Our ongoing story and challenge is the backbone which creates the unique global family of activists. Our global network is also based on our understanding and solidarity to solve the global challenge we face with climate change.
Our Route in 2018 summarized
This year the expedition travelled through various parts of Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Lichtenstein. Our aim was again to inspire young people with good examples of developing a sustainable relationship with nature. In 2018, we sailed the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea, the North Sea Canal and the Ijsselmeer and cycled all along the Rhein River up to the Swiss Alps and climbed to the mountain tops surrounding the Toma Lake, the source of the Rhein. For details please check our expedition blog on: https://toptotop.org/ .
While the boat is overwintering in the harbour of Medemblik in the Netherlands, we go to visit as many schools as possible in Europe, get some time to plan our activism and projects, to optimize our school material, organization, network, platforms and to prepare the next ‘TOPtoTOP Climate Solution Award Expedition’ (see the last Award held in Switzerland in 2014: https://vimeo.com/85454324)
We also have to travel to some important presentations and conferences; check our calendar here:
Next spring, we will continue to teach Inuit students mountaineering skills, so that they have another source of income. We aim to inspire another 100,000 students over the coming years with our mission and act to clean up our wonderful planet, circumnavigating the Arctic and the Americas from POLE to POLE in a figure of 8, making optimal use of the winds and currents.
- Our goal is to build a global student network to solve global challenges, based on understanding, friendship and solidarity.
- We will focus on giving remote places a voice in their challenge against climate change.
- We will continue studying the changing migration patterns of whales between the tropics and the poles caused by the warming oceans.
- We aim to start a revolution in the sailing world in the use of electric motors.
It is time to save our planet! Our goal is to establish a lasting movementthat inspires youth to act — even in 100 years’ time from now. Please consider an annual donation, see https://toptotop.org/donate/ .
The annualTOPtoTOP-membership is 50 USD/Euro/CHF per household/institution. A lifelong membership is 250 USD, pleaseregister at https://toptotop.org/donate/toptotop-membership/ .
Thank you for your support!
Without the generosity and hospitality of the people we meet on our journey, and without your support, our efforts would have been unthinkable. A big thank you also to our partners UNEP and myclimate, and to our main sponsor Victorinox. Our thanks also go to all the benefactors and all those who support our project with their TOP products and services, specially PredictWind, Patagonia, Geberit, WEYTEC, Hostpoint, Colltex, Stöckli, Fritschi, Catch and Lift, Sunware, Webasto, Echopilot, Elco, Optrel, BSI, Ronstan, Pizol, Sika and EBP.
Special thanks to our members Mirjam, Meret, Livia, Jana, Christina, Laura, Armanda, Mael, Luana, Marlis, Ladina, Ottavia, Rosi, Gina, Robbie, Chris, Jürg, Sverrir, Marius, Brigitte, Peter, Tessa, Elisabeth, Dieter, Sopie, Tabea and Till who accompanied the expedition.
A special thanks Gabi Bolliger, Hanna Law, Bart Ziegler, Peter Storm, Cindy & Kevan & Collin Keegan, Annemarie Büchler, Rosi & Ernst Ammann, Ottavia & Reto Schworer, who have worked like little dwarfs taking care of administration, logistics, website, translations and bookkeeping.
We also wish to thank for their friendship and assistance to:
Pieter Heerema, Urs Schlegel, Nadine & ChristianReintjes, Mirela & Daniel Albenesius, Anne-Laure & Julien Ludwig,Christophe & Sylvie Nalten, Erika Jenni, Willy Vogel, Claus Knoth &Ruscha Jurisch and Family, Grenevikurskóli, Peluverkurskoli, Hrafnagilskoli,Ecole Ill au Rhin, Eveline Egloff, Arngrímur B. Jóhannsson, Adalsteinn Bergdal,Arctic Museum, Kristin Jòhannesdòttir, Anja Prade, Adam Braids, Polar Hestar,Juliane Kauertz & Stefan Kristjánsson, An-Katrien& Leo, Rebekka Kühnis,Lucienne Ten Hoeve, Siggi Thorlaksson & Marna Wakely, Bekka Steingrsdóttir& Sverrir Gunnarsson with Family, Babsi Neubarth, Porir Steingrimsson,Sigrun Kjatansdottir, Gunnar Svararsson, Rachel, Giorgo, Kieran, LorenzoBaruchello, Serena Pedrana, Jon Sigurqursson, Inga Porlaksdottir, ErlendurGudmundsson, Laufram Bödvarsdottir, Zane Brikovska & Markus Meckl andFamily, Rúnar Bjúensson, Sailing Club, Inda Ljösmodin, Herdta Fridjonsdottir,Sylvia Mörk, Kristin Valdemarsdottir, Greta Benjaminsdottir, Therese Möller,Diana Marin Sigurgeirsdottir, Adriana Marin, Sigrun Lilja, Sigrun Finnsdottir,Ragnheidur A Einarsdottir, Greta Juliusdottir, Gudrun Erlingsdottir, ValaHafsteinsson, Kristrin Birgisdottir, Bjarki Gunarsson and Family, Gunna &Joe with Family, Gudmundur Tulinius, Ulrica Seiler & Andreas Baumgartner,Vignir Sigursveinsson, Elding, Lena Oesswein, Finnur, Elli, Roland Smelt &Sossa Vagnsdottir, Finna & David Family, Ossur, Nathan, Adam, Knutur,Baldur, Jökul & Sunna Bergmann, Kiddy, Annemieke, Salka, Rescue TeamAkureyri, Library Akureyri, Music School Hof Akureyri, Skitrainer: Helgi, Kari,Magnus, Petur & Hedris, Swimmtrainer Raggna, Victor, Hospital Akureyri: Inda, Eva, Dorothea Albrecht, Asdis Gestsdottir, Stefan Matthiasson, BjörnThor Stefansson, Thelma Stfansdottir,Niels Einarsson, Skapti Halgrimsson, Sylvia & Juerg Zahnd, Monika und PeterGruenenfelder, Bruder Martin Hieronymi, Kloster Disentis, Dominik & SylkeSchaub, Regatta Center Medemblik, Family Julie & Matt Deschamps, Marco& Ines Kappenberger, Karin Caderas & Marco Koch, Peter Gnehm, FamilyJeff & Mary Fritsch, Family Torgen & Lindsey Johnson, Family Armanda& Franz Schlegel, Family Pia & Andy Zimmermann, Family Priska &Juerg Van Der Heyde, Family Andy Freimueller, Stefan Baumann, Peter Locher,Reta Malaer, Family John & Cheryl Hunt, Family Bausmann, Mohamed Masoud,Mead Treadwell, Pierre Honegger, The Explorers Club, Roman Rueglister, TobiasEgli, Mario Okle, Christian Bachsler, Esther Hoernlimann, Theres Meyer, MarkusFueglister, Kathrin Dellantonio, Maxi Grebe, Brigitte & Men San Jon, FamilyPholenz, Steve Lamando, Bob de Angelo, Nancy Loving, David Hinkelmann, StevenStern, Subin Chun, Frank Bohlen, Garlef Baum Murette, Rigger Rainer Petras,Ecolibrium TV, workers of Slippurinn and HeidGudByggir
From the start of the Rhein in Holland (below) to the source in the Swiss Alps (above). Thanks to Peter Storm and Tombsbike Noe (in the middle) got a bike.
Along the Rhein from Holland to the source, we cycled through 6 countries visiting schools and had the pleasure of people joining us. Here some impressions from the last leg through Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany and Austria:
Thank you to all our friends inviting us to stay overnight. Special thanks to Bruder Martin and the monastery of Disentis for giving us shelter.
At the end of the road on the Oberalppass, there was a lighthouse from Holland. From there we climbed to the Toma Lake, the official source, where we went swimming in the freezing cold water.
(Alegra is holding the remains of our Swiss flag that traveled with us through the Northwest Passage and the Arctic all the way up here.)
The kids were building a dam at the creek feeding the lake. There we recognized that the water starts at the mountain tops surrounding the lake. So we climbed over the ridge of the watershed.
We were just in the Badus hut, close to the source, to celebrate Dario’s 50th birthday. Salina invited Dario to climb to the highest peak in the area as a birthday present.
After cycling downhill to our family in Vilters, friends and family joined in the Prokopf Hut for the main celebration organized by Sabine. The day after, Dario got a special present from friend Dominik to paraglide down to the Valley. Soon after we celebrated Andri’s birthday.
In the Netherlands, Peter Storm helped us to put our bicycles together and off we went along the Rhein river through the Netherlands, Germany, and France visiting schools.
Along the river, we cycled through wonderful landscapes and towns with great people.
We met wonderful campsites and people, who invited us to stay.
Our goal was to explore good examples for our climate and present it in schools and the public along the way. One of the highlights was to meet the company “Sunware” (producing solar panels) and “Superwind” (producing wind generators). These solar panels and wind generators are already working maintenance-free for more than a decade on Pachama.
The most extraordinary presentation we did, was at a small local “Oktoberfest”, where we learned how to produce wine ecologically friendly.
Our goal is to get to the source of the Rhein River about mid-October. Please join us. On our tracker, you see where we are.
After Greenland, we made it back to Olafsfjördur in Iceland.
Hordur from Reykjavik helped us fixing some issues on Pachamama. He and his girl-friend Katla gave Christina a lift to us.
The kids were so excited to have Christina back on board.
Our friend Sverrir joined us on the long leg all the way to Amsterdam.
He took a lot of lamp meet and was a great cook and seaman.
Because of weather and sea conditions, we sailed non-stop. We got trapped once in bad conditions for nearly 20 hours without moving South between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In the North Sea, we were shocked by the many oil rigs. It was like a forest and mad navigation kind of difficult.
We got a free birth in Amsterdam Marina where we had to say goodbye from Sverrir. He went on to Norway to meet part of his family.
Together with Christina, we sailed from Amsterdam trough several logs into the Islemeer to Medemblick, where we had a nice welcome by the Harbormasters Marcel and Erik.
We got a place for Pachamama from our friend Pieter H..
Our old friend Pieter S. joined us to help to take the sails down and preparing the bicycles.
After these difficult months with the repairs of Pachamama, we are totally exhausted and need a rest. We decided to continue cycling and visiting schools mainly in Europe this winter. The first leg will be along the Rhein river through the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland.
Yesterday Christina’s father “Bruno” came to pick up Christina before we set off from Medemblik. He also took a lot of staff from us for Switzerland. Thank you so much.
We finally have a weather window to leave Olafsfjördur, Iceland and hope to get to Medemblik in Holland in about 10 – 14 days. You can trek us here.
We plan to cycle around mid-September along the Rhein river to Switzerland and visit schools on the way. Everybody is welcome to join us!
We plan to do a big party in Switzerland on the 20th of October for Andri’s 12th (25th) and Dario’s 50th (16th) birthday, so keep this weekend open!