Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Base Camp News


28th July 2008


It has continued to be full steam ahead for the last two days; we are still benefiting from stable weather conditions.  In fact it has been too hot on some days, the heat making the load carrying to the various advance base camps and comms sites even more exhausting.  Sorry about not writing more often but after an 18 – 20 hr day when we get back to TSQ all that we want to do is eat, have a brew and sleep.Shift stores


Anyway enough of the violin strings.  There is nowhere else like this place and we are happy to be here!  To give you a feel for how things are, I am currently sat in TSQ with the sun shining and the wind blowing (that means less mosquitoes).  When I look left (south) I can see a glaciated cwm behind which sits an unclimbed peak; in the foreground is the main bay we use for landing the Zodiacs.  Straight ahead I can see the BT comms site for this location with the wind generator spinning in the breeze.  Behind that, a little further off, is an easy ridge line, which heads roughly east.  To my right (north) I can see out into the main fjord and across to Geordie’s Point 2 (GDP2), the relay site that will eventually supply this location with comms.  Currently however we only have the ability to speak to KMT.  Behind GDP2, as far as the eye can see, are glaciers and a multitude of unclimbed peaks.  The coast line is reminiscent of Norway, so there is a lot to keep the kayakers entertained.  In the main fjord icebergs float by on their way out to the Atlantic.  I am not sure if the sailors will be able to bring Adventure this far into the Fjord.


FjordI thought I would give you an update as to what has happened over the last few days.  On the 26th we loaded up the stores for Christmas Trees and headed down there; it’s about 2 hrs away from here and is a wonderfully wild and remote place.  The journey down like almost everywhere around here was breath taking.  The fjord sides get steeper and steeper the further you travel.  We quickly unloaded and after a fairly simple load carry we established the camp.  We have only used a small 2 man tent there as the winds can be quite big and there was a danger that the big tent may get destroyed. 


The camp is the site of the only tree in this part of west Greenland and hence the Christmas Tree is actually marked on the map.  A cemetery it also marked, as this is the site an ancient tragedy.  In the not too distant past there used to be an Inuit camp here.  One day whilst the men where out hunting the camp was hit by what was described as fire from the sky (maybe lightening?).  All those left in camp - the women and children, all died.  And so the cemetery is theirs, there is very little soil here and so the graves are on the surface with stones piled on top of the bodies.  Through time some of the stones have fallen away and the skulls and bones are easily seen.  A sobering thought. 


After taking in the scenery for a short while, it was back on the Zodiacs and we headed back to TSQ. We met a young Danish couple here who had kayaked in, they kindly gave us coffee which we accepted but felt a little guilty about intruding in on their solitude.


It was arranged that we would meet up some of the BT boys in TSQ as they had decided to venture out of KMT and joined us in the field.  Not all came out as apparently there was some very pressing admin to do…  The first task was for John McGaw and me to go and recce the site for GDP2 and to transport a partial comms load across the fjord.  Then it was back to TSQ for the BT boys to start the comms build here.  They finished in the early hours.


The next day was a double whammy; most of us set off to do the back breaking carry to GDP2 and to build the site.  There is a short exposed moment on the way up that required me to build a fixed handrail to ensure nobody fell.  The carry took 8 people a good 6-7 hrs.  At the same time 2 people went to build Igimasaq (IGQ) again, which was also a long back breaking carry.  By 20.30 hrs yesterday we had fully established the GDP2 comms site and made a number of intermediate caches at IGQ which we hope to complete tomorrow (29 Jul).


Dinner for the last few nights has been whale steaks cooked in various sauces.  They would be better fried but we do not have any butter or oil; these are the real hardships we are contending with!  Dinner this evening will consist of the two large cod that Ian caught from shore early, alas still no oil or butter so it will be cod stew unless I manage to scrounge some from Anders and David.  This pair seem to do 5 star adventuring; their evening meals to date have consisted of Musk Ox steak, fried whale steak, reindeer steak, artic char and a shared late night early morning meal of fried cod.  They also only ever seemed to drink freshly ground coffee; we must be doing something wrong. 


Other exciting events of the day are the fact that I have finally had time to wash the clothes I’ve been wearing since leaving UK.  I also braved a swim and bath in the fjord which was a little bracing but very refreshing.  Swimming with ice floating by was a first for me.  I would only do this with a decent wind blowing as I would have been eaten alive if the air was still.


Well I have probably written enough for the moment but if you remind me tomorrow I will tell you a bit about Anders and David, who both interesting characters.


John HW