Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Igimasaq Mountaineers - Phase one covering 6th August to 15th August 2008


15 Aug 08


15aug08Late start this morning as we know that we will not be picked up from the side of the bay until the evening. We used the opportunity to all have a cold swim in the lake (takes your breath away) and to sort some admin/dry kit.

It did not take too long to get to the beach and after a quick radio call to base we settled down for a four hour wait The tide was out and so we collected and ate a large bowl of mussels and then had an obligatory game of UNO sat on a rock by the sea.


Anders and David turned up about 7.30pm for the short hop across the bay for a reunion with the other teams (lots of tall tales) and a meal of fish stew before getting to bed for probably the most uncomfortable night of the trip.


14 Aug 08


Well it was not raining when we got up, so we decided to climb the mountain overlooking Tasiusaq bay. This involved a couple of hours climbing first steep moss covered slopes and then scrambling over scree and boulders. We had to thread our way through between the cliffs, occaisionally marking the route as clouds were bubbling around and we wanted to be able to find the way back down.


We reached the top at 1230hrs and the scenery was pretty impressive, we could see 15 glaciers and it was just a shame that it was not clearer as this must be one of the best points for a view in the whole area.


After lunch, yet again of biscuits and tuna, we set off back down, stopping briefly for george to indulge in his 'stone throwing into lakes' hobby (for a doctor he is easily pleased). It was not as difficult to find the way down as we expected and we were soon out of the cloud and able to see our camp in the distance. Once back at the tents we
all decided to have a wash, although only Richie decided to take a skinny dip in the freezing lake.


Supper was special tonight, curry and rice and then we retired to one of the tents for a game of UNO sardines.


Tomorrow is our last day and we will head back to Tasiusaq, although we cannot get a lift across the bay until quite late so it will be a lazy morning start for us.


13 Aug 08


Up to a heavy grey sky for the first time on this trip and a cloud of midges for the 10th day in a row, we decided to head over the mountain to our East and then put another camp in closer to Tasiusaq.


13aug08We spent a couple of hours climbing a steep slope, mostly covered in ankle deep cloudberries and moss, but becoming rocky towards the top. Just as we got to the top we could see a cruise ship coming up the fiord to look at the glaciers. We were
all envious of the fact that they were probably enjoying a drink in the bar before their smorgasboard lunch (anything would be better than dry biscuits and tuna). The views were very dramatic and we could see the island with Kangamuic on it, where we will be heading on Sat.


It started to drizzle as we set off down, which made the rocks a bit slippery, especially on some of the steeper looser sections, but we made good progress and reached our campsite about 6hrs after setting off. Just after we got the tents up it started to rain heavily and so we dived under cover to try to get our damp kit dry again.


By 8pm we were debating whether to eat our supper cold (not a great prospect if you have ever tried Compo Rations) or send someone - probably Richie - out in the rain to cook. Fortunately the rain stopped for 30 mins and we were able to have a quick supper of steak and veg followed by creamed rice pudding.


Not much else to say really, it is still raining.....


12 Aug 08


12aug08We were up at 0700hrs to prepare to move over to the other side of the fiord, however there was a dense sea mist obscuring the view and after a quick radio call to base camp it was clear that we would not be picked up for a few hours. The two boats were down at Christmas tree camp at the far end of the fiord and visibility there was only
a few feet, so they could not move until it cleared for fear of hitting an iceberg.


We packed up the tent and sorted the food for the next few days, everyone was pleased to find some food that did not involve eating chicken and mushroom pasta! Richie had the task of emptying the toilet, not a pleasant task when the bag it was all supposed to have ended up in was found to have melted slightly in the fire!


At 1230hrs the two boats turned up and we were a bit surprised to see the feet of a reindeer sticking out of the front of the boat. Anders and David had been hunting and also had the skin of a musk ox as well as a large pile of meat. Cath explained that they had been off the day before and had to drag the reindeer 5km to the boats.


12aug08We were ferried across the fiord and dropped at the mouth of a river. It was a little bumpy on the ride and some of the kit got a bit wet. After about an hour of walking up along the side of the river we stopped for a bite to eat. George spotted some fish in the river and so for a mad 20 minutes we tried to tickle, trap and catch them. John built a net using
a bit of one of the rucksacs and a mossie head net and george jumped in to trap them between some boulders. Still we could not get any and so Rob stripped off and jumped in to scare them with his bandy legs! We were able to catch 3 large trout, with Nathalie laughing so much she struggled to take some pictures.


After that we followed the river for a bit further until it opened out into a large lake where we found a great spot for a campsite. Rob did a great job poaching the trout, which tasted delicious and then had another 'extreme' UNO on a rock in the lake
(after building a bridge to it) however the midges finally drove us into our tents for an early night at 9pm


11 Aug 08

11aug08We awoke to a clear blue sky and the familiar noise of midges flying at the tent - which sound like a light shower of rain.

After a delicious breakfast of corned beef hash we set off east for the days walk to see the glaciers in Glacier Bay.

En route we found that some boulders give off a burning smell when pushed off the edge of cliffs when crashing below.

But there was much fun in getting the largest splash in the lake some distance below.

After a 3 hour walk to the peak over looking the Glacier and the bay we watched and listened to the sound of the 200ft high 2 mile wide edge of Sermitsisiaq Glacier slowly cracking and falling into the sea.

At the peak we enjoyed our lunch of biscuits brown/fruit, of beef pate or tuna, with chocolate for dessert.

We returned to camp and Nathalie, Richie and Rob washed their clothes then bathed in the stream, naked as nature intended.

Pasta and anchovies was an inspired choice for dinner, with ration pack chocolate pudding for dessert.

The intersting cooking smells this evening did not tempt our out arctic fox to come and say hello tonight.

A very competative fast game of 'Uno' completed the day.


10 Aug 08
The eeriness of the fog, the silence, and the flapping of the crows’ wings gave for a very different Sunday morning than we are all used to. Due to the foggy conditions it was decided not to venture across the glacier to the higher peak.  After waiting in vain for a while for it to clear, we made our way back down the route to the camp.


10aug08There are so many clusters of the purple flowers; some growing in the unlikeliest of places. The sea eagles were making themselves heard; the only sound in the area apart from the quiet tweeting of the small birds which keep darting between the rocks and shrubs.


Once again Rob decided it would be a good idea to use some of the 'fresh' rations and make up a 'Greenlandic style' dinner consisting of pan fried honey coated luncheon meat in a port wine sauce, with Indian style chilli mash.  It tasted surprisingly good, even the arctic fox thought so as he rifled through the scraps in the fire place; all caught on film!


Our fox is becoming cheekier, but keeps leaving his messages hither and thither. He is a small little thing, about the size of a small dog, with a dark body and a fluffy grey tail; I know the kids at Brompton-on-Swale school will be fascinated by the fox’s antics.

Once the final game of 'UNO' and everyone had bedded down, the silence and tranquillity of the camp is really prevalent.  


9 Aug 08
9aug08The camp rose early. With our 07:00 comms check completed we prepared for a trip to scale farther peaks, via a trek across the glacier.


Few crevasses, but a number of sink holes & rivulets on this glacier, plus a steep slope to contend with, which was a good place to learn how to climb with crampons!
The weather was warm and sunny and we scaled 2x peaks this day, over mostly broken rocky terrain, with 850 meters being the highest point.


We had our lunch at the highest point and sat enjoying the view down onto the fiord for some time. Rob decided to scare the rest of the group by leaning out over the several hundred feet of sheer cliff to take some video footage of falling rocks

9aug08We checked comms and then descended in good time across the glacier, which had lots of flowing meltwater on the surface.  At one point we could see where a river dropped steeply into the heart of the glacier, although George’s attempts to photograph it

did not show how impressive it was, we were back in camp before sundown and in time for dinner. No bathing today.


From the high cirrus cloud we assessed the following day would not be as good. We had a few games of 'UNO' sat on a rocky slope before settling down to a chillier night on the hill.


8 Aug 08
8aug08The camp rose late, after a well deserved lie in, to another glorious day.


We decided to go the glacier to the west, taking supplies and provisions for a 2 day camp.  The route up was steep, made more difficult by the additional weight we each carried.


We set up camp adjacent to the glacier, before deciding to go for a refreshing dip in the glacier fed lake below the camp. Rob was first in for a wash and dip, closely followed by John, naked as nature intended. After a supper of chicken & pasta rat pack we had a couple of rounds of 'UNO' before calling it a night at 20:30. 


7 Aug 08


The camp rose once again to glorious sunshine. There was no sign of the bird which had been ‘swooping’ the camp and tents earlier in the morning. Rat pack burger & beans again for breakfast before heading off to see the glacier in the bay around the headland to the north east.


7aug08Half way at our lunch spot we spied smoke rising from the area of the loo. We realised the toilet paper burning hearth must have caught fire.


Once again George wanted to practice his cross country skills and proceed back to camp 'at the speed of 1000 gazelles'! On reaching camp we found George amongst smoke and ash; the loo burning hearth has suddenly got much bigger! We spent the next 2 hrs damping down. Disaster averted we decided to have dinner before bedding down for the night.


6 Aug 08
The camp woke at 08:00 and had a breakfast of burger and beans from the ration packs.


10aug08Our team leader decided we would head off up to the glacier to the north. The flies were a constant annoyance on the route up. I was thinking if only my wife Shireen & our boys could be here to see the magnificence of the first sight of the glacier.

We split up before the base of the glacier. George & Richie went up towards the west side over the rocky moraine and John, Nathalie & I went up the east side of the glacier.
The weather was fine with sea mist rolling in & up the mountains, the sun shining, but the flies still rampant.


Our team had an initial steep climb up the moraine prior to donning crampons before a steep climb up the glacier.  At 13:00 we had our lunch of biscuits brown/fruit, tuna & chocolate; yummy!


We progressed further, continuing to zig zag across the numerous crevasses covering the glacier, dirty from the silt deposits. An exciting day ensued moving up the glacier, mostly avoiding the crevasses with ease.  However, after Nathalie got acquainted rather too closely with one particular dark and hungry void, we decided enough was enough and we would head back to camp.  Meeting George and Richie back at the edge of the glacier, we got back to base camp at 10:00pm and after another rat pack dinner went to sleep.  I promised the team we would have a decent breakfast consisting of porridge, with honey & arctic berries – enough of rat packs for the moment!


Look out for further messages about the breakfast tomorrow.


Rob Allinson