Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Base Camp News


Tues 5 August 2008


It feels like a long time since I was sat at home in the UK, making sure that the blogs The teamsent back by the advance party were received and passed on to the webmaster for this site.  I’m now sat in Tasiusaq Advance Base Camp, looking across the bay to where a huge glacier bulges over the mountain side and stops, almost suspended in mid-air, surely on the verge of exploding and sending millions of tonnes of ice crashing into the valley below.  Assuming, however, that it has been in this precarious position since long before there was ever a human eye to behold it, I think we are safe…!


So, the story of phase 1 mountaineers and kayakers so far…  Meeting up in Windsor TAC on Saturday was a simple affair; many thanks to those that put in the hard work to make it all run so smoothly,  Thank you also to 97 Sig Sqn for very generously allowed us to use their TAC.  Conversation on the Sat night veered towards ‘actions on’ in the event that one should encounter a polar bear.  The popular decision appeared to be ‘run faster than the person next to you’, some people even going so far as to suggest tripping them up, or tying their shoe laces together, might increase your chances of escape.  The next morning, whilst attempting to walk over a very flat piece of tarmac, Val took a headlong dive to the ground, apparently as a result of someone practicing their polar bear evasion tactics prior to departure!  The culprit was never found….


Setting off from Heathrow also went smoothly, and we arrived in Copenhagen ready for a night out on the town.  With a meal and one beer coming in at over £30, it is a good job we were only there for one night!  At 05.30 the next morning there were some bleary eyes as we set off for the airport.  All continued to go well, with us arriving safely in Kangerlussuaq (it was raining – welcome to Greenland!) and the charter flight already on the runway waiting to whisk us off on the next part of the journey.  Everyone appeared to find the idea of us having a whole plane to ourselves quite exciting!  Then came the final part of the move; the boat trip to the Fjord.  Kai, our local contact in Maniitsoq, was there waiting for us at the airport, and was his usual beaming cheery self.  He took us direct to the boats he had waiting and a few hours later we were sat at Tasiusaq Bay.  Everything had gone exactly to plan and it all seemed far too easy to be true!


Since then we have had a day of admin, splitting the groups down and issuing kit.  The Igimasaq Group is now in location, under the lead of John Owens.  Unfortunately they have gone without their stoves, so unless they like cold ration pack food they’re going to get hungry quite soon!  We might relent and take them some over…


Tarquin Shipley is off next, taking his group along to Ice Camp, a long journey up the Fjord in the small zodiac boats.  Then tomorrow John HW has his eye on a route for his group, starting off directly from the zodiacs and with the MOD camera crew following along behind!  That leaves the kayakers in base camp – unfortunately this is the part that hasn’t gone so well, with Kai unable to supply the kayaks until tomorrow evening.  So at the moment they are kayakers without kayaks, perhaps ‘swimmers’ would be a better name for them.  But their turn will come, and there are worse places in the world to be stuck for a day or two than Tasiusaq Bay.


Meanwhile BT are still fighting hard to overcome the communications problems, and are out at Geordie’s Point at the moment, where they are going to be staying for about 3 days in the hope of success.  Until then we have to ‘adapt and overcome’ in order to get our blogs to you!