Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Latest from the Kayak Group - 5th August 2008


Rather worryingly the majority of us were awoken on our first morning in Greenland by the unmistakable sounds a large lumbering Polar bear rummaging around the campsite in the early hours.  Not sure what the immediate action was in these circumstances we all decided that if we just snuggled further down in our sleeping bags and put in our ear plugs, then we could ignore the hideous snuffling sounds and indeed the nightmarish screams that must surely follow.  Imagine our relief therefore when the bear spoke (he even knew our names!) and politely enquired if we wanted a cup of tea.  The bear thankfully turned out to be Pete Richardson, roused from his sleep by a full bladder.Brewing up


At breakfast Judy Dunn overcame a 20 year phobia and actually ate compo burger and beans (recognizable by their luminous orange colour) for the fist time.  So far there have been no adverse reactions, but Scottie McDonald (the Kayaking Team Medic) is keeping a close eye on her, albeit from upwind.  Most of the team unavoidably ingested additional protein at the same meal by swallowing copious quantities of Kamikaze Black fly that seemed intent on imploding themselves on any mouth-bound forkful of food.


A series of briefings took place in the morning.  One important subject that was covered, unfortunately rather too close on the heels of breakfast, was portaloo bag changing drills! Additional briefings on the twice daily reporting schedules, rations, maps and medical matters rounded off the morning.  Some of the climbers appear to view the kayaking group as a rather hedonistic hippie commune that lives on their local hillside brewing and drinking blueberry moonshine and sniffing the “white powder” (latterly discovered to be potato mix!).  This has been reinforced by the observation that we don’t seem to be overly concerned that our kayaks haven’t materialized.  To our credit the Kayakers have in fact accrued more vertical ascent meterage climbing up and down to the main Tassy Bay main campsite from their lofty bivvy area, than any of the climbers to date.


The rumour that expedition funds were low has been reinforced by the distinct impression that we are not in Greenland but have in fact got a cheap package holiday to the Gallapigos islands.  Having trained in, been fitted for and lugged all the way from the UK, via various air terminals, large quantities of cold and wet weather clothing, we are bemused that we actually need shorts, T shirts and bikinis (Paul Rodenhurst muttered something about his thong!)  Carol “Smillie” Cheyne however has refused to be parted from any of her layers of clothing and indeed has taken to adding any additional clothing that she finds abandoned, in order to create the body temperature she obviously normally enjoys at home.  Sadly, this idyllic weather was short lived and we were soon swaddled back in our artic clothing and headnets.


Having seen how little food we have been allocated, the deeply ingrained, basic hunter-gatherer instinct has emerged in a number of the team.  Paul having been given a quick lesson in fishing from Pete, pulled in an impressive quantity of inedible algae and seaweed.  Sarah Shambrook decided to ease herself into the sport by using a spinner tied to a 10’ line!  Scottie decided to stun the fish by throwing out his weighted spinner out into the fjord…failing to ensure that it was properly secured to the reel.  Kev King, who can certainly talk a good fish story or two, blamed his small rod and unfavourable light and wind conditions for failing to land the group’s supper.  With expert hunters such as these in the team, I feel confident that a sudden and drastic weight loss is on the cards.


As the sun fails to drop below the horizon the group prepares to settle down to enjoy a
quiet night punctuated  by the soothing sounds of Charlie Miller’s snoring and happy dreams of kayaks arriving tomorrow evening (maybe!).