Sunday, August 27, 2017

Greenland trip day 9: Yeah! No more rain!

The day starts cloudy, including low clouds, but dry. Due to the low clouds, we opt not to do the ridge/peak behind our camp but to head a bit up the big glacier to see what we can find. We're underway shortly after 8 (late!) and head up to the moraine from two days ago and then onwards. After crossing a cool ice "bridge" over a river, we head down to the side of the big glacier and then up onto its gravel and dirt covered flank at a convenient point. Now it's good going for a bit until we get close to the next glacier coming in from the right. We find a good spot and leave the big glacier.
putting on crampons...
Onwards, past a small "peak" in a valley that John explains is from glacial overflow, then up onto the next moraine from which we have a view of the glacier coming from the right as well as a couple of likely looking peaks towards the end of the valley. The weather is continuing to improve and spirits in the group are high. :-) We continue along the moraine, past a family of ptarmigan, and then head onto the glacier. Here we put on the crampons and then traverse diagonally towards a decent looking snowfield that should lead to the ridge on the side. The glacier is super easy: mostly flat, no snow on top, no real crevasses, good going. From the glacier we can see another really nice looking peak with a knife ridge a bit further up from where we are headed: lovely but not for today. At the foot of the snowfield we get out the axes and then begin the ascent through the couloir. The snow is, once again, just about perfect and we make very rapid progress upwards. Past the narrow spot with the hole down to the rushing stream, up, up, up we go. This really is a great way to do vertical! The snowfield peters out some meters below the col, where we change out of the crampons, have a rest, and admire the astonishing views. The big glacier is just unbelievably big, it's got to be well over 5 km wide in the middle and stretches into the distance around a corner and out of sight.
up the ridge with views onto the big glacier
From the col we continue up the ridge. This is at first pretty loose, but gets nicer (and then *very* nice) quickly for those who are willing to do a bit of scrambling. Not everyone is, so A&g do a bit of coaching past the short mandatory scrambling bits (including doing some of them multiple times in both directions) before heading off on our own to follow the good rock (great rock) the rest of the way to the small peak. There are another couple peaks further along the ridge and the next one looks definitely doable (and fun!) but it would be climbing, seems pretty exposed, and we have already been going for ~6 hours, so it's not for today. We enjoy the stunning viewes (holy shit...), have a quick snack, and then head back down. Lots more coaching from g&A here (John has one person on a rope and can't really do this), but we get down to the col eventually. Quick bit of reorg and then we head down to the snowfield. John and greg put on crampons but the others opt to enjoy the conditions and glissade to the bottom. Looks like fun, but g just isn't ready for that. The return route is basically the same as the approach and we get back to camp about 11 hours after leaving.
great scrambling on great rock
It was a great day and spirits are very high. After a quick wash we do snacks then dinner (beef stew, good!) before heading to bed.
end of a great day.....with hopefully more to come
greg's horrible pun for the day: "Who'd have thought we'd all be smiling after so much moraine?"

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