Not long now - I can't wait !
Not long now......
Spring is nearly here in Shetland, on some days at least, and the evenings are starting to get much lighter so the paddling season is now well underway. However the past dark months were an ideal and busy time to be gearing up for our summer in East Greenland. Flights, accommodation and logistics are now sorted and team members are focusing on their kayak and general fitness, equipment lists and packing systems.
I own a comprehensive fleet of quality UK kayaks and equipment, which is permanently kept in Tasiilaq, so folk can often paddle the same boat they are familiar with at home, so this helps when it comes to working out if everything will go in.
Always an option, some folk are staying on a bit longer after their expedition dates with me to further explore this amazing area and do some dedicated hiking, while others are teaming up with family or friends to explore Iceland a bit, on the way back home from Greenland.
This season sees a multinational group of folk making up the teams, paddlers from America, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Norway and the UK, we have good teams (as always) going out this season.
Greenland is now becoming a popular place for kayakers and is getting busier every season.
However the Angmagssalik region of the east coast where my expeditions are based, with only one flight from Iceland a day, is in comparison less accessible and consequently quieter. I have been running guided trips on the east coast every summer for the past 12 years and have seen little significant change.
There are only two access points for the east coast - Kulusuk and Constable Point so traffic is not excessive. The main settlement of Tasiilaq (via Kulusuk) is on Angmagssalik Island and was at one time called Angmagssalik. Here the local ‘commune’ or town council administer an area the size of the UK with a population of approx 2500 people – many of which are seasonal contractors, involved in building and infrastructure projects. In fact the total population of Greenland is only 56,000 – with the remaining 53,000+ living on the south and west coasts.
Consequently, once out on expedition we are pretty much on our own and apart from local seal hunters we don’t see many other people. Over the past 19 years I have developed some good local contacts who are able to provide back up services. So should anyone have a medical issue and need to be evacuated to the modern local hospital, then that base is covered. If conditions dictate, then checking in with these folk every few days by satellite phone gives me a heads up as to what the local ice is doing and enables our journey to make the best of the conditions. This also gives us added options enabling our trip to venture further afield to lesser known areas and gives added flexibility as to where expeditions start and finish.
Having spent so much time in this area I obviously now know it extremely well, certainly my current trips are much improved on the ones I ran in the early days, generally being more adventurous, flexible, interactive and safer.
Ice conditions on the east coast are very different from the south and west side, as the main polar drift flows south down the east coast from the Arctic Ocean.Conditions can at times be unpredictable and challenging (Fun), however that’s why folk join me – to paddle amongst sea ice and ice bergs. Over the years the word has got round and I now regularly get folk joining my trips from New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia as it’s much easier, cheaper and safer than venturing to the Antarctic to paddle in ice. I also get many folk joining me having first paddled on the west coast.
Although no as bad as some, my trips are still expensive,so a good lead in time is advisable. I obviously don’t skimp on service or safety, the kayaks and equipment are my own. They are good quality and well maintained and I know the history of every bit of kit. During the lead up phase as well as on trip I try to give folk options and advice and allow them to make decisions and have control - its important folk feel it's their trip, with me along in the background to guide and support and step in when appropriate or the conditions dictate. As a result my trip dates fill up quick and I don’t really advertise, also I get many repeat bookings which say’s a lot.
East Greenland doesn’t take prisoners, so don’t get caught out. Every expedition is run by myself, and I am always supported by at least one back up leader who is capable of taking over should the need arise. They know the area, ice conditions, weather anomalies and my systems well, having been out to this area with me several times before. Team members are introduced to my way of working and taught how to read and negotiate ice and ice bergs, as well as transferring their existing navigation skills to our 1:250000 scale maps, route planning, identifying camp sites, get outs and plan B's.
Some time back I wrote the ISKGA Paddling in Ice Module. This along with BC guide modules are covered during the expedition and certificates are available for interested parties. Hazard and Risk and ‘expedition mind sets’ are looked at in depth, all with the aim to help further develop your existing skills and provide knowledge for future unsupported trips to this area on your own.
The Arctic is a fragile and delicate area, slow to recover from neglect, abuse or over use.
Throughout the expedition we implement a minimal impact and sustainable approach towards our journeying.
So – if this sounds like the sort of thing you may be interested in, an truly amazing kayak adventure, in the Arctic, paddling amongst the sea ice, negotiating icebergs, encountering whales and wild camping amongst fantastic wilderness scenery. Then why not contact me for further details firstname.lastname@example.org