Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Kitty Kat Mountaineers - 17th August 2008 onwards

 

25th August 2008 Blog 9

 

Last dayThe last day of blogs from Kitty Kat Team.  Due to get picked up at 16.00, we only had the morning during which to continue our adventures, so went for what was supposed to be a gentle wander over to the hills above Glacier Bay.  However no-one remembered to explain to Uncle J what ‘gentle bimble’ means, so he and his 2m stride dragged the rest of us panting and sweaty beasts along behind him until we finally collapsed at the top!  The views were spectacular over the glacier however, so we had lunch and watched huge chunks of ice being spat into the fjord far below us.


On the way back we had our final swimming challenge – dive in one side of the glacial lake, then swim over to the other side, touch the rock and swim back, all without becoming hypothermic in the process! Heather and I managed ok but I do have to say that the boys looked as though they got a bit chilly…


As the remainder of the day consisted of packing our camp away and moving back to Tasiusaq Bay, there isn’t really any more news to report from this day.  However I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to my group for being a fantastic team, and in no particular order:


Uncle J (Jim) – long legs and an inability to walk slowly!  A fantastic brew maker and a smile for every occasion.


Ms Pyro (Heather) – a lively Scottish lady (also a ginga!), a great tent mate and pal.  Dislikes having rocks chucked at her…


Master Chef (Dave) – why was he called Master Chef?  I don’t remember him doing any cooking!  But a great bloke and obviously enjoying himself immensely the whole time.


Frodo (John) – also great bloke who deserves to go far in the TA.  From bandaging up Heather’s leg after we put a hole in it, to a willingness to try his hand at any new skill, Frodo can join my team any day.

 

See you all again soon.

Cath S (Kitty Kath)

 

25th August 2008 Blog 8

 

Today was the big day – up at 04.30 and a chilly hour to get ready before we set off at 05.30 up Death Valley to start the long walk in to our intended peak.  As is the tradition, the Death Valley walk in seems to get longer each day, regardless of where we are going!  Finally we past the ‘car park’ (a terminal moraine wall created by the glacier, that’s created an area so flat and tidy that it really could be a car park) and headed up the loose moraine slope to the start of the glacier.  Finally stepping on to the glacier at 08.30, and into the sunlight, it was official – we were now having fun!!
PeaksUncle J lead us up the glacier, steep to start off but then proceeding a  more gentle angle, quite pleasant really.  Complaints came from the group each time he lead us out of the sun, so he got the message ref route finding quite quickly!  Our intended peak loomed up ahead of us, one of 3 peaks crowning the top of the glacier.  This was the first time we had seen at as is obscured behind other peaks from the valley bottom, but from a map recce it had looked feasible.  Seeing it in reality for the first time sent shivers of excitement through us – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, we were moving quickly, the route looked good and we were keen for success!


On the way upFinally arriving at the saddle that started our route, we started off up the ridge that was covered in deep, fresh snow.  This made the going rather harder, as being unable to tell whether the snow had solid ground under it or was simply laid over a void between boulders, we often seemed to find ourselves falling though up to our waists whilst trying to route find.  Or Cath did at least, to the amusement of the group behind…  A few more challenging moves followed that needed protecting, before all too soon we arrived below the summit tower.  Moving around to the right we found a way through the steep wall, and after pitching this last bit we peered up to see nothing but blue sky above us.  The summit was glorious, about 10m in diameter and completely flat aside from one boulder in the middle, so we gathered around to place our hands on it together and claim the mountain as our peak!  Although marked on the map as approx 1225m high, our recently calibrated altimeters stated that the summit was just over 1305m, so we opted to believe the altimeters!  (Either that, or we were on the wrong mountain…)
Lunch

 

(video of climb and Heather's birthday)

 

Lunch, photos and general happiness followed, especially as it was Heather’s birthday so we were able to create a cake out of marshmallows and skittles and share it between us.  We then spotted footprints on a mountain off in the distance (amazing that they were so visible to the naked eye from so far away!) and radio’d Tarquin’s group to find out if it was them.  We all then waved hello in the general direction of each other, and Tarquin’s group sang happy birthday to Heather over the marine radio (much the amusement no doubt of many local Inuit who were also using marine radios that day!)
Once the festivities were over, it was time to retreat back to the glacier.  There were no stones available to build a cairn on our summit, but as we had to abseil from the summit boulder we left a bit of blue tat instead, with which to claim our summit.  Route finding on the way back was easy (our footprints in the snow looked like a herd of elephants had walked up the mountain!), then back down Death Valley and back in camp in time for tea and medals.  Tired but happy, it was a fantastic experience and a great climax to our adventures.


So what is our name for this peak?  Well we’re not sure; although there was no cairn and it isn’t named on the map, Anders seemed to know a lot about the route up to the summit, so has he climbed it?  Has he already named it?  Is it called Mt Anders?  Anders – let us know!

 

22nd August 2008

 

Mt Ugly Fish


65 degrees 57 minutes 38 seconds N
52 degrees 53 minutes 33 seconds W

 

The 21st had bought us some rather poor weather which dictated a day of inactivity (but lots of chapatis), we ended the day by praying to which ever Inuit god deals with weather and asked for a good day on the 22nd. We woke to an overcast morning with the odd light shower breaking out, our prayers had been answered so after a yummy breakfast of Cath's Porridge we headed for the hills, or should I say the 'Hump Back Mountain'.
kitty Kat groupThe going was good and after a short break to fill the water carriers team Kitty Kat started the ascent of Hump Back. Unfortunately the gods decided to go on a coffee break and we got shafted with some pretty awful weather. The marine radio crackled into life with reports of snow and teams been sent packing by the high winds, whilst the other teams whimped out and turned for base camp. Not team Kitty Kat, we pressed on into the clag and driving snow as we climbed higher and higher.

 

Video Mount Ugly Fish!


The first peak we got to was quickly named Mount JT and cairn was erected, we were treated to glimpses of the Shark's Tooth and the Glaciers in the valley. Before the boss and leader of team Kitty Kat spurred us into action by promising us a new un-climbed peak to name.


 Snow settling on the peakWith the snow settling, and the ground getting steeper and more slippery Uncle Jim started to get into his element. Drawing an all his 'Mount Everest and MR' expereinece he led the way with a huge smile and spring in his step whilst the rest of us followed like reluctant children been dragged up a hill. He would occasionally look back and offer words of encouragement like 'its not far now' and 'the top's only just over the top of this next peak.........honest' whilst the rest of us looked on with bleeding eyes wondering where on earth he got his energy and enthusiasm from. With no Midgit Gems on offer the team shuffled onwards and upwards through the bighting wind and freezing temperatures. None the less team Kitty Kat managed to summit the 'Hump Back' and with no cairn in sight the peak was ours for the taking. Hand shakes were exchanged, and a quick team meeting came to the decision that we should bugger off back down to camp and get a brew.


The way down led to some rather experimental new mountaineering techniques such as the Butt slide, the five points of contact approach, and the dangle and drop technique. Most of this experimental mountaineering was carried out by the shortest memeber of the team (Frodo) much to Uncle Jim's amusment. There was an amusing incident where Uncle Jim produced a team shelter which he swore we could all fit into only to find out that it was a three man shelter not a five man, undetered we all piled in and with arms and legs going in all directions. We enjoyed a lunch of Bombay Mix and dry roast Peanuts as well as the odd bit of dried ginger.


The rest of the descent was carried out in good order and following a 12 hour day we popped a brew on and disscused the name for our newly climbed mountain, Hump Back sounded too much like Broke Back so working on a fishy theme we decided to go with Ugly Fish Mountain.

 

 

20th August 2008 Sunny Day Blog


Kitty Kat Team were up with the larks this morning in preparation for our first big route. We were all breakfasted on Army Compo Ration Corned Beef Hash spiced up a bit with some chilli sauce for good measure, brews made, washing up finished and bags packed we were off. We had a long hard walk in to the base of the mountain we were planning to explore. Bearing in mind back in the UK most routes on our hills have some form of a guide written about them we were tackling routes that nobody had ventured on before. All part of the fun, scrambling by trial and error! After a couple of river crossings, rock hopping over raging torrents, amazingly we all kept our feet dry, and continued up easy grassy slopes to about 500m, then the scrambling began. The weather was fantastic! Blue skies, warm, with a light breeze, so morale was high. The scrambling up the ridge was pretty straight forward, but we were constantly having to check holds, as a lot of them could come off in your hands.


Sharks fin RidgeMuch higher up towards the shark's fin ridge we'd been aiming for, we came across a 30m loose chimney, and decided to get the rope out, (also another good excuse for a scran break, - not that we needed  an excuse), and our illustrious leader Cath bravely climbed up where probably no man (or woman!) had climbed before. Such agility, technique and grace, a sight to behold for us mere mortals. She quickly got to the top, and  started bringing us up to join her. Unfortunately, a loose brick sized rock came tumbling down, and smacked into Heather's leg while she was waiting to climb up. After a few minutes of expletives that would shame a Glaswegian docker, it was apparent that she could still walk, so she came up the chimney and we all watched Frodo, our expert medic, inspect the trauma, and patch up our wounded soldier. After such a life threatening and possibly life changing moment, it was definately time for a moral boost, so Uncle J cracked open the Midget Gems.


We were now at 1090m with the ground getting steep and sporting. Cath and Uncle J had a look at the options for traversing, or climbing over the ridge and both thought the ridge was not impossible, it would have been too technical and slow moving for a group of five, so we had a wee sunbathe and admired the view from Heather's Terrace of our fantastic surroundings before all abbing back down the chimney. Very carefully, I might Kitty Kat Groupadd! Then we had a relaxed bimble back down the mountain, and stopped for happy snaps at a local version of the cantilever stone and finished off the Midget Gems. Then we carried on down the hill, recrossed the rivers, and refilled our water containers before getting back to Iggy Kit Kat camp for tea and medals. On reflection, we consider that we had made the right decision in bravely running away, and even if the summit wasn't reached, we have had a great mountaineering day out in perfect weather.


After a brew we went down to the fjord for a dip and a bath. Dip being the operative word!, it was "*******" freezing! Colder than the loch. Once we had got some circulation back we tried fishing and looking for mussels, both unsuccessfully. Ho Hum, compo for tea again! Followed by hot chocolate, bed time stories, and a good night's kip in camp Kitty Kat.

 

19th August 2008 Kitty Kat Swim Blog

 

Mount MordorWell we're back from our first full day of exploration and what news we have just for you! Team Kitty Kat have scaled Mount Mordor (Frodos turn to name our peak) which is a rather nice 679 metre high summit. We can describe it as a UK grade 1 scramble mainly on various granite blocked terraces with basalt staircases running to and from through the strata. Everywhere we go there’s a lot of loose rock that is not consolidated so you have to be very careful not to knock anything down on top of your team. So "jumpity skippity upity" we go just in time to witness the new extreme sport of Boulder Surfing from John as he slid past us all on what we can only describe as a piece of rock the size of a family hatchback. 

 

Aim for today is to get a good shakeout session in order for us to get used to the ground, terrain and the timings for us to move around with a degree of accuracy. The maps we are using are very different from those that we use in the UK and are certainly not as detailed. For any of you that know Naismiths rule, that goes completely out the window over here as the contours are 25 metres apart and the only colours we have are brown for cliffs, green for vegetation, blue for water and white for the glaciers which are only a couple of kilometres away from here. It took us a couple of hours to pick our route up from our site through the alpine mosses, heath and streams that come down the hill from the glaciers, on the way past leaving our water container at the side of the river where we collect it on the way back so we've enough fresh water for cooking and drinking until tomorrow.

 

Route upOnce we topped out on top of the ridge we could see a large glacier to the north which separated a further 2 ranges of hills. Phase 1 at this location managed to scale the 850 metre peak to the left so we're looking at the ridge ( very jagged with lots of pointy bits) to the right hand side which gives us a few ideas for the next few days. The only issue we have at the moment is that the tops are covered in clag and we can't see a thing and it would be useful for us to have a bit more detail about the route before we tackle it.  But that’s the nature of the beast and to make things more interesting than they already are the clag is getting thicker and lower. According to our altimeters the barometric pressure is dropping and the clouds are gathering therefore its time for us to descend and get to lower ground before the weather changes for the worse. Heading back into the relative safety of the valley we take a route down adjacent to a glacial river full of large boulders and rocks where Ms Pyro stumbles across a patch of snow and decides to go for a frolic, then throw some snowballs for good measure. Kitty Kath then has a wonderful idea. Lets head over to the wee lochan to our left and have a wee looksee, perhaps we can go for a paddle or a swim. Well, you couldn't keep the clothes on Uncle J could you! "Wheeech" and off went the breeks and boots and he was away, charging through the shallows taking a headlong dive into, may I just say again, a glacial lochan. We couldn't kinda leave him there, so, ah well, when in Rome, we all joined him. A good few screams of pain and "oiya that's cold" came from our mouths as we tried to remain semi compus mentus as we thrashed around in the loch. I think we all lasted about 1minute each before we about turned and ran back out the water and onto the bank grabbing any bit of dry clothing to try our best to warm up as quickly as possible. Needless to say, we all got a very refreshing wash. If we do return we'll have to make sure that we bring shower gel, shampoo/conditioner and a hairdryer, perhaps we may stretch to bringing a set of straighteners as well.

 

All dressed again and back off to find our water container, fill it up and hump it back up the hill and over to our camp about a kilometre away. All done, back home and brews on. We've sat and had a chat about what we've found out today and tomorrow we'll wait and see what the weather brings then decide what ridge route we'll go for. Even though the pressure has risen the temperature has not, in fact, its really cold and it may snow tonight. PS We've got a name for Dave. Its "Masterchef" after his cordon bleu skills with dinner tonight. Rice, pork lucheon meat and sausage with a added hint of chilli to spice it up. Catchya soon.

 

18th August 2008

 

KK KampsiteWell, what have we done today. We all moved house to a rather nice little spot above the fjord on the other side of the valley from the Tassy crowd. Anders and David (the removal men) helped us shift our belongings (10 rucksacks, drybags, mobile porta potty, grub, tents, rations, stoves, fuel, water container, 14 toilet rolls, a packet of Jammy Dodgers and 3 sets of tent pegs to go with the tents). 

 

So far duties have included siting the toilet (Frodo Taylor) and now we can see the others on theirs but they can't see us!! We have enforced tent cleaning due to excess condensation as a result of that stuff that falls out the sky called rain. We've constructed our stone hearth for al fresco dining with accompanied seating provided thanks to the efforts of Bodgit and Scarper (Uncle J and Dave).

 

This evenings dining will consist of a mixture of compo Lamb Stew with a tin of Irish Stew chucked in for added zest. We have thought about serving this with a delicious side dish of rice flavoured with with garlic or Mashed Tatties but we'll wait and see. If we can escape from that wet stuff that keeps falling out the sky we may even consider going fishing. We've got a rather large pond to chuck hooks and lures into so it would be rude not to really. The pecking order has been established by Auntie Cath (Kitty Kath) by the age old method of Paper, Scissors, Rank Slide, (sorry Uncle J think you've dipped out on that one).

 

Midnight SunWell, what can we say really, we've made it to our site, we'll have a look at the maps and Dave is trying to establish what our Lat and Long is for Dial a Pizza delivery. Dave Allen says Happy Birthday Mum, I know its late but its the thought that counts. Have a nice trip.

Cath is now pointing over her shoulder (we'll go that way....) as a rough guide to our adventure tomorrow.

 

We're away to go fishing and try and catch some cod, Ms Pyro (Heather) doesn't want to see any more ugly fish ever again! Have a nice day and we'll have a beer on you...... here's one we drank earlier.... Byeeeeeeee

 

Blog numero uno Sunday 17th August 2008

 

Well, the real journey has now begun as we waited for the transport i.e. the boat at Kangaamuit. Our last airport at Manitsoq gave us a real taste of how remote we actually were as we looked at the FIngerpost showing that we're not really that far from the North Pole.

 

We've had planes and we've had metro trains and we've had quite a few boats of differing shapes, sizes and horsepower in order to get us to this forward Base Camp at Tasiusaq Bay.

 

Its amazing what you'll do to keep the troops entertained whilst waiting for the Inuits to come back from hunting whales in order to take you to your destination. Gareth and the lads played football in their mountaineering boots using the bucket of a JCB as the goal. Needless to say the youngsters ran circles around them and scored oodles of goals against them.

 

Ugly FishKirten was disturbed from her slumbers on the jetty whilst nestling amongst the bags but was awakened very gently by the Brigadier who was wanting to get his rucksack in order to head to Maniisoq. Heather decided to try out her wee fishing rod off the pier and caught the ugliest looking fish you have ever seen. Looking like a mutant she threw it back into the murk and cast again and got another bite. 'This is great, I wonder what it is?' 'Well', Tom says 'its a Shunti Fish, not the prettiest as its covered in bristling spines and big teeth.' Oh well, hook out, chucked it back in again and another cast. Well, after catching 10 of these sea bed feeders she decided enough was enough and that was more than enough hook removing practice for one day. Ugly fish today Cod tomorrow.

We got pickerd up by the boat "Nivi" and travelled up around the headland from the village and headed up the fjord. We were honoured to share some time on the ocean with a whale which you can see from the video footage. It didn't stay for long but long enough for us to appreciate how beautiful these huge creatures acftually are. The sides are flanked by glacier clad peaks and valleys just waiting for us to explore. Stu pointed out the BT Comms sites, not as some We are now playing the B irthyday game, whos the baby of the group, well John,then Cath then Heather then Dave then Jim. What ages we are we will never tell.....

 

This evening we've had a briefing on the rules of engagement as per mossies followed quickly by Stu's briefing on the etiquette of outdoor peeing (anywhere away from the campsite) and pooing (in the plastic bag lined bucket, pick the upwind site, ensure its windy (or you'll end up with a bitten botty) and put the lid back on when you're finished.

We split into our specialist roles and got updates on the kit. John is the medic and got a full brief on the Trauma pack. Jim is organising our maps and sorting out the traces for us to use. The area is split into sectors including areas that we can explore with a variety of peaks, glaciers and ridge lines. Dave is our group photographer and Heather the Comms specialist. We've got a toughbook laptop, satellite tracker, Iridium Satellite phone, Marine radio and Video Camera. We're aiming to take photos and footage of our exploits, upload them to the laptop, write our daily blog then send it all off via the BT fjord link back top base camp then forwrded back to the UK for you to see.

 

17aug08More kit issued includes our technical kit of harnesses, axes and crampons where we make sure it all fits properly. Last but not least, its dinner time and just the opportunity for us to test our MSR cookers. Ohh, open the selection box and wee've plumped for Lamb Stew and Vegtables with Treacle Sponge for desert. All very romantic but ubnfortunately the weather has turned, it is chucking it down and even the cookers are getting drowned. Nevertheless, with a bit of tweeking and coercing, the cookers roar into life and we manage to get the water boiled and the bags popped into the pots to heat up, then a quick scarper to the tent to get some cover from the rain.

 

Happy days and here we are, five in a tent discussing the finer virtues of life without TV, newspapers, running water and catching a bit of our own food. We're heading off to bed now, tomorrow we move to set up our own base camp near Iggy, pitching our tents and looking forward to the next set of challenges. Tune in soon for the next exciting episode from the five Kitty Kats.