Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Greenland trip day 5: the first mountain day

After a night with bear watches (because of the rain) we get up to still weather and blue skies. Yeah! We are underway by 9am, heading up the valley, past the lake, slowly climbing until we reach the next lake and the glacier and the peak that is our destination is in view.
nice rock, and destination in view 
As a group we opt to take a route along a nice rounded stone ridge. This brings us, with a bit of light scrambling, to a good viewpoint and then down a bit to the glacier. After roping in we cross the big flat stretch and then climb a bit until hitting the side of the ridge that leads to the peak. Rope off, reorganize a bit and then we make our way to the loose slope to the ridge. The ridge, which is also a bit loose, takes us up, up, with ever improving views, to a shoulder where traverse the peak to the opposite side. We use this ridge to gain the peak (830m, no name). Our first Greenland mountain! The views are very, very nice.
view from the peak 
After a snack, some rest, and bunch of pictures, we head back down the way we came to the glacier. Roping in again we cross at an angle to where we went before - Andrea leading -  to a slope that we can quickly descend to the lake. The glacier traverses are pretty easy here: there aren't a huge number of crevasses and having six on the rope really makes us safe. Of course John has a slightly different system for doing things than what we are used to, but that's no big deal. The differences are always fun.
heading back down towards the glacier
After getting back to the tents we do a bit of washing of ourselves, have a nice snack of soup and quesadillas, and then hang out and rest until dinner time. Dinner is beef curry with rice (not too bad!). Post dinner we retire for the short night. No rain tonight, so we rely on the tripwires and skip the bear watch.
soup and snacks and quesadillas

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Greenland trip day 4: setting off

The forecast is better, so we plan to get a somewhat earlier start with the idea of heading off to a first camp in order to do a bit of practicing and a few peaks before heading to a camp somewhat further away. We wake to a light drizzle but some signs that the clouds are lifting. After breakfast we pack everything up, load the bags onto an ATV, and then walk down to the docks to load the boat. Piling in the boat, we head out across the bay to Apusiaajik Island, past icebergs and small islands to the mouth of a small valley not far from the glacier we've been admiring for the past couple of days.
getting dropped off
After unloading the boat we cart the first loads of stuff 15-20 minutes to the camp that Matt and John have already scoped out and set up with bear tripwires. After carting up the second load of stuff (not much fun) we pitch our tents (more fun), get set up in the tents, pitch the cooking/eating tent, and eat a bit. G builds a "fridge" for some food (cheese, salami, and wraps) that need to be kept cool and protected from animals and then we head back to get the two barrels with the rest of the food and lug them back to the camp (really not much fun).
carrying the food to camp
Now a bit of soup and crackers, some warm drinks, and a bit more organization and then we head off on a walk around the headland and towards the foot of the Apusiaajik Glacier. Lots of cool geology along that way (the variety of rocks is amazing) and then we see the glacier running into the sea. :-) A bit more looking around and then we head back to camp. Dinner is chicken and pesto pasta (soupy, but ok). After some more chatting and setting up the shifts for the polar bear watch (the tripwires apparently don't work so well in the rain and it is starting to drizzle again), we head off to bed. The forecast for the next day is good and there is climbing to be done!
first camp on Apusiaajik Island

Monday, August 21, 2017

Greenland trip day 3: another holding day, but with a walk

It's raining again in the morning so we opt after breakfast to wait and see what happens. Quiet morning. Around noon John suggests a hike around the island to stretch our legs and see a bit. Everyone is a bit cabin feverish, so this is well received. We put on the wet weather gear (it's still drizzling) and head out through town and a bit towards the airport and then off and around the other side of the lake.
heading out
Up a bit, past the old reindeer "fence" and then across a fantastic moor towards the sea. This is a completely new type of terrain for us. Just remarkable. Very lush in it sway with loads of moss and lichen of many different types. Soft, soft ground and rounded granite/gneiss all around. Fantastic! We head a bit towards the sea then head up a small "peak" to enjoy the view. Crazy lichen-covered stones to the top and then a view out to the partially mist-covered ocean with stone islands and icebergs all around. Magical.
Now back down and around the small valley before heading up to the ridge again and onto a few small peaks with wonderful views. The the last of these we get a view down to Kulusuk. We head a bit further along the ridge and then down to town and back to the house. We still haven't headed off on the expedition we're here for, but it was a really fantastic walk through wild terrain. Fun fun stuff.
view down to Kulusuk

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Greenland trip day 2: embarkation day (or not)

After not seeing the Northern Lights the night before (it took us too long to get outside after Matt woke us up) we awake to low clouds and drizzle. This changes to rain as the morning goes on. The plan is to load all our stuff into a boat in the late morning and then to head across the bay to a valley next to the glacier. We'll spend a few days there practicing and doing some peaks before moving further up the coast to another base camp.

The morning is spent packing and handling logistics as we wait for the tide to come in. The rain doesn't let up though. The forecast has been bad, then a bit better, but the reality just isn't very nice. Eventually we decide to just sit things out in town rather than heading over and setting up camp in the wet. We need to make space in the lodge, so we move over to another older and rustic (though still quite reasonable) house, have lunch, and spend the rest of the afternoon taking it easy. A bit of napping, some reading, a short walk when the rain lessens, etc.

After a nice meal and some more sitting around talking we head off to bed, hoping for better weather.
Kulusuk in the rain

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Greenland trip day 1: arrival day

After a night of poor sleep we get up, do some packing, have a nice breakfast, and then head out to the domestic airport. It's Marathon Day in Reykjavik, so there are loads of people about. We walk (!) to the airport which is really not much more than a bus terminal. After checking in and clearing security we head into the teeny waiting room with loads of other people (There are two flights waiting). We eventually board the smallish prop plane and then are on our way. The flight is painless and the views for the last 15 minutes are inspiring! Arriving at the very minimal airport near Kulusuk is amazing. The views! The landscape!
We are in Greenland!
baggage claim
John meets us and the other three from our group (Icelanders) who we had not yet met but had successfully identified in the waiting area earlier. Our bags go into "town" via ATV and we walk in. It really is different and wonderful. We are in Greenland! Once at the lodge we do a bit of briefing, have lunch, stroll around town for a bit and then walk to a nearby crag to do some climbing. This is great climbing with the heavy boots on. Lovely gneiss, good stuff! We do this for a while to have fun and let John assess us then head back to the lodge for a rest and a snack. More hanging out and then a great meal with a big group (a group of 10 + 2 guides who are finishing a two week expedition). After some more ogling at the views we head off to bed.
We *are* in Greenland!