Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Base Camp News

 

25th July 2008

 

It’s Fri and I have just popped back to Kangaamiut (KMT) to pick the BT boys and drop them off at Qeqertarsuad Island so that they can build the next line in the comms link.

 

Over the last 60ish hours we have shifted about a ton of stores and equipment out to the Fjord. We have been taking full advantage of the high pressure over the west coast and of the 24 hours of daylight.  So after a hard push we have build Tasiusaq Camp (TSQ) and stocked it.  We have also build and stocked Ice Camp (IC).  The building of both was physically demanding work as the camp is some distance from the shore, and when the tide is out it is even further away.

 

The initial build phase saw Stu McH and Kev K in KMT moving equipment out of the Local helpcontainers with assistance from the local kids.  This was loaded on to the Zodiacs where Anders and David brought it out to TSQ.  It was then unloaded on to the shore and the Zodiacs turned around to head back for the next load.  This is a 3-4 hour round trip.  Ian and I then lugged the kit into the stores tents, generally finishing carrying stuff 10 -15 minutes before the next load arrived.  It has been back-breaking work but well worth the effort.  I found travelling down the fjord for the first time this year an emotional experience; we have worked long and hard to get here and this first trip was the realisation of that effort. 

 

TSQ has been built on spit of land that catches the wind; this is deliberate as the mosquitoes are 10 or 20 times worse than they are here in KMT, and the wind helps keep their numbers down.  Head nets are a real must.  TSQ is our logistic hub in the fjord, and this is where the mountaineers and kayakers will be issued their equipment.  It has good landing beaches on both sides so the Zodiacs can land even if the wind is up.  The slight problem is the nearest stream is a fair distance away where the mosquitoes are even worse.  So water will be brought in, in jerry can by zodiac.

IC is built on a moraine slope next to a huge glacier.  There is a lake higher up the moraine wall, which has been created by a moraine dam, from which streams trickle Andersdown to the Fjord.  From sea level to the camp it is about 15 – 20m of height gain in a very short distance over loose unstable scree, so it too was an interesting build.

Whilst out at TSQ we were joined by a local family who were fishing and hunting in the area.  They invited us to join them for food and coffee.  Of course we could not refuse nor did we want to.  The meal consisted of dried whale, fresh whale blubber and boiled whale.  It made an interesting and welcome change to our diet.  They also helped us move some of the stores; that is until an artic fox was spotted, and they all headed off on the hunt.  The fox was soon dispatched.  We gathered mussels yesterday and, when we fished working at about 2am this morning, we boiled them in sea water and had them for supper.  They tasted divine.

 

It a quick turn around here, to pick up more ration packs, fuel and water.  Then it is back out to TSQ, collect the Christmas Tree (XMT) load which we have prepositional on the shore, and go and build it.  It will be another long day today as XMT is about 5hrs away from here, so I do not expect we will be finished until about 4 or 5 tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll have mussels for breakfast!  As soon as thing settled down and we have a little more time we intend to supplement our diet with fish from the sea and from the steams later on (the Artic have not yet moved up from the sea).

The wildlife count over the last few days remains high; more humpback whales (we ate minkie) sea eagles, artic foxes, and thousands of sea birds that nest in the cliffs opposite IC.

 

Well that is it for the moment.  As Anders and David have just arrived it is time to give them a quick coffee and get on the way again.  I suspect I will be away for another 2-3 days because after IC we have Igimasaq to build and after that I need to build a safety rope system for the BT boys to get to Geordies Point.

 

John HW