Thursday, August 31, 2017

Greenland trip day 13: last tour day

Another beautiful weather day! We get an early(ish) start (7:00) and head "south" down the coast (away from the glacier) following a lower route this time. We eventually hit the "beach" and river from day 8. We cross the river (much lower in the a.m.) and then turn up towards the glacier. After a bit of ascent on the gravel-covered lower bits of glacier it gets a bit steeper and icier, so we put on the crampons before continuing upwards. At the obvious point we cross over onto the rocks on the right, take off the crampons, and then head up the loose moraine to a col above. Now it's "follow the ridge" for quite a while. Great views, up, up, up decent going (though we have to avoid most of the fun-looking scrambling) until we hit a big snow patch. This we do with our boots until we see that it connects to the glacier we're heading towards. On with the crampons, on with the rope, and then it's up, up, up along the glacier.

high up on the glacier

There are some long, big crevasses, so we do a wide loop along the lefthand side as we climb. It's mostly in the sun (and hot!) but the snow is still in good shape and we make good progress up to the snow ridge. Great views from here! On a bit further to the rocks and then off with the crampons and along the rock ridge towards the col that we hope will lead to the summit. Since it's a ridge and we are roped in, we do some practicing of the techniques from the previous day. Progress is agonizingly slow.

After a bit of this, John calls a break and suggests that we turn around. The couloir to the col really doesn't look good (very loose) and he thinks it wouldn't be safe in a large group. After a bit of discussion we decide to turn back. After a short break to eat and enjoy the views, we head back to the snow.

We do a short diversion to scramble onto a pillar on the ridge and get a bit of "peak feeling", but then we head down, down, down. The glacier descent goes quickly as does a nice patch of glissading along a snow patch later. Still, most of this is a steep descent in a group with places, particularly towards the bottom, where things a re quite loose. Not super fun. Eventually we reach the glacier, put on the crampons, and cross and descend to a good point on the other side. Away with the crampons and then onwards and long the coast back to camp. Along the way G realizes that he has left his ice axe on the glacier when we put away the crampons. Stupid, but not critical since it's the last day.

along the shore back towards camp

last time we'll be doing this walk

Back at camp we unpack, have a snack, and hot drink, and then do dinner (G: chicken curry, A: spag bol) before heading off to bed.

It was a decent tour and the views were great, but at this point we're both pretty tired of the others in the group (John excluded). Not that surprising given the length of time we've been together and the mismatch in expectations/experience. It's a bit of consolation that this is the last tour day...

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