Greenland Expeditions Return
Many of you have asked about our trips this summer so here is a quick update now we are all safely back.
To say the least, conditions this year were a little out of the norm; especially for the first group who had extremely thick sea ice – once we landed at the airport in Kulusuk - the normally 45 minutes journey to Ammassalik in the shuttle boat took over 5 hrs and on several occasions during the journey I thought we would be spending the night out amongst the ice.
As usual our first day was spent exploring the village, visiting the museum, shopping for food and tracking down and collecting the 3 extra Nordkapp kayaks which had been shipped out this year. Kayaks and kit came out of my store and everyone started packing and getting ready for a good start the following day.
Once we paddled out of Tasiilaq, we were chased by ever-encroaching sea ice, eventually as far as Kuummiut. This ice came in from the sea and completely filled Ammassalik fjord and surrounding inlets. The phase from here on in was “ chocker!"
Our initial plan to paddle into Ikask was thwarted and having spent some time involuntarily travelling on a large ice berg (having quickly pulled all the kayaks out to save them from being damaged) we escaped back into open water and finally made it to the village of Kuummiut. This is one of the nicest villages in the area with a population of about 250 – from here we took the inside route to the old abandoned USA airbase at Ikateq and spent a day exploring the remains, ruins and dump.
During the trip we were able to explore many old settlement sites, which I had previously not been able to visit – the campsites were stunning and navigating and travelling through the very thick ice was both challenging and amazing.
Seal launching – for real – from icebergs, back into open leads was an experience I am sure folk will not forget quickly.
We had all experienced some amazing ice and as a result paddled in conditions not normally experienced here at this time of year.
We later found out that other paddlers in the same area during this time had spent their time on land – ice bound.
The trip was a great success and several have now booked again for next summer.
Unfortunately one of our team lost his luggage, when the name tag came off in Glasgow, and ended up in Greenland with no kit – luckily I have spare gear in the container for this eventuality, so we were able to sort him out for the first few days – all his gear then arrived on the Monday.
As the ice had previously been so packed in the Ammassalik fjord, we decided to head west towards Isortoq.
One of the team was then ill with a sick bug and as a result we decided to take a more leisurely route inland, so as to approach Sermilik fjord by way of Tint.
The going was good with none of the ice problems from the previous trip – however – once we crossed Sermilik from Tinit we found we were unable to paddle safely on the west side of the fjord.
(Too much ice packed in with huge bergs growling and cracking as they dropped ice into the water around them)
We crossed back and headed north to the top of the fjord – however the ice was so thick we only got a couple of days in before being forced to retrace our route.
We now headed south – hoping to paddle round the south end of Ammassalik Island and return to Tasiilaq having circumnavigated the island.
We reached the ghost village of Ikateq and were able to explore the settlement and visit the abandoned school and church – these have been left undisturbed since the day they were last used, 1986, books on the desk and lesson’s on the black board!
That night we found a great campsite about an hour south of Ikateq and continued our unbroken tradition of a campfire every evening.
The next morning brought a head wind but looked good and we paddled through some huge Antarctic type ice shelf’s (these had travelled down from the NW of Greenland, via the north pole) and had lunch in a hut on the south tip of Ammassalik island – the bay the hut was in was like something out of “The land that time forgot”.
From here we made it round the corner, through some quite lumpy and confused water with squalls building and coming down from the cliffs - Quite a paddle, with no landings for 12 miles, 4 1/2 hrs.
(Mark Tozer helped lead the second trip with me)
Once back outside Tasiilaq we decided to take a days rest to get a shower and do some laundry and a bit of shopping.
We had some days left before the flight home so decided to paddle back out into Ammassalik fjord and cross over to Kulusuk.
I knew would give us the chance of a couple of days paddling amongst whales and evenings with good campsites for whale watching (Humpback and Minki whales) they came very close and we had some fantastic views.
Just north of Kulusuk village we intended to camp by a glacier which still comes down to the sea – a fantastic spot.
That evening this calved and sent out a huge wave, which proceeded to wash the rocks clean, which several of the group had been cooking on.
I had warned them!!
No one was in any danger, however meals, stores, stoves and kit were lost.
Fortunately everything that floated was recovered by kayak and once the tide went down everything else was retrieved.
Once back in Tasiilaq I spent time maintaining the kayaks and equipment, it had been a hard summer on the kit.
The group had a great day hill walking and reached several peaks, giving fantastic views of the area we had been in and the ice stretching for miles out to sea.
It had been another great trip – my first to cross Sermilik and explore the old settlement on the far side of Tinit, which is where folk lived in turf houses, until 1956, when they were re housed in the new wooded houses built for them in Tinit.
It was also good to get round the south tip of Ammassalik Island – however we will do it at the start of a trip next time so we have time to wait for a more favourable weather forecast.
As usual a day at the end of the trip was spent in Iceland. Folk doing their own thing - visiting the Blue lagoon, geysers, hot tubs, waterfalls and pools – oh yes and Pubs!
Thanks to everyone who helped and supported - making 2010 another memorable summer. Plans for 2011 are now already well underway.
Our campsite north of Kulusuk.