Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

Igimasaq Mountaineers - Phase two covering 18th August onwards.


Monday 25th August 08

Making a quick callThe anticipation had been building all week; after careful monitoring of the atmospheric pressure (and a quick call via the sat phone to get a weather forecast), Tarquin had assured us that monday would be the day. The sun would be out, the skies would be clear, the glacier would be perfect. Irritating though it may be when people are smuggly correct, we were all happy enough that the predictions were spot on. Though dawning cold on account of the clear overnight ksies, as soon as the sun came up hopes were high for a good day. Not wanting to break the habit of the week, Stu decided to forget a vital piece of the camcorder equipment; this time the charged battery for the camcorder...

0nce fully equipped, crampons and sun cream applied, we stepped forth once again onto the glacier...

The objective for the day were a couple of summits we had spotted up on the west side of the glacier, requiring the now familiar route up the glacier, forking left up steeper ground to a saddle. The sun was burning bright, morale was high, and we were all enjoying the final day on the glacier immensely.


After a cheeky scramble up the first ridge, we reached the first summit, being spotted from across the glacier by Cath's team on the summitt of another peak. Contacting the others over the marine radio, the opportunity was seized to wish Heather a Happy Birthday with the traditional bout of song, much to her amusement. But not husband Joe's, who had failed to do similar up to this point, and thus hurridly made his birthday wishes.


Descending back to the saddle, we then made a second scramble up to the second summit, still basking in glorious summit to admire the view.


Another succesful day done, we descended back down the scramble, across the glacier and back to the tents, rounding off the week with the best day of the week. 


Sunday 24th August 08

An early start for the team, up and out by 0900hrs.  All ready and kitted but poor Stuart forgot the battery for the camcorder so off he runs, I must say without crampons!

24aug08Take two, off we head for the peaks.  All roped on we step onto the glacier, some knees weaker then others!  Tarqin took the lead followed by Dave then myself Stuart and Tom at the rear.  It was like a scene from the seven dwarfs, doppey I can name myself as for the others I will leave for you to decide (look at the photos).

2km's later we begain to climb, not on hands or kness but close as for some off us! We were now in view of peak 1255m, what an amazing sight!

With at least another 3km to trek we reached the bottom of our climb of 1255m, now it was time to use all fours! Im talking about walking poles, not hands just yet.

With a lot of team work we could see the summit, I could feel the butterflies in each and every person. Our first peak was just metres away.  With Tarqin out front checking out the ground we waited for him to give the call we were waiting for, he calls Dave who for some strange reason decides to walk towards Tarqin without his ice-axe.  Very brave SMP! Then it was my turn, just as I was about to make my move Tarqin sends Dave 24aug08back and decides it is to danergous!  Very disappointed we turn back, but we all realised that it was a good call.  Safety comes first and its not all about being the first up peaks.
With many hours left in the day we all head for peak 1245m, to be honest it looked really diffifcult to get to the summit but we all wanted to give it a try. 

The team is now lead by Tom, we decsend down the steep galcier towards 1245m.  On route many photos are taken and Tom is looking out for all the crevasses.  It appears that we are all happy taking in the views when Tom disappears! But not for long as Staurt saves the day and pulls Tom to safety.

We make the summit of 1245m after a fairly hard rocky climb, brave Tom and Stuart head back down but Dave and I feel that we need to see how Tarqin uses the rope so for a little confidence we are roped on.

We all return to our higher camp safe and happy,.....


Saturday 23rd August 08

The TeamAfter a pretty poor nights sleep, caused mainly by the freezing wind and the driving snow we awoke to winter wonderland.  We started the daily task of making brews and Corned dog hash (Monster Hash) for all.  After all had been fed and watered we had a quick conflab about the weaqther and the dangers of andering across the glacier in such conditions.  A group decision was made to abort the glacier training and any attempt on a summit and instead local training took place in the form of Snow Woman Building and local scrambling.  During the afternoon a call came through from Kitty Kath's team saying that they would be on the glacier close to our high camp.  We duelly walked across to the neighbouring hills to watch them perform on the ice.  We had propossed to make score cards and mark the group on their skills, unfortunately we were a bit short of the required stationary supplies and Staples refused to deliver for some reason.  The day passed faily rapidly with most of it being spent in our tents (particulary Tarquin who I would have thought would have contrsacted bed sores while reading The Luitenants Wife).


Friday 22 Aug 08

RopingThe weather on Friday was again not spectacular, so a leisuirely breakfast was had, waiting for the day to improve. Following our previous days' initial forays onto the glacier, we decided to embark on a route up the glacier and, hopefully, subsequently to a scramble and a summit. In limitied visibility, we began our steady amble up the glacier, trying to pick out the best routes to avoid the crevasses. The poor weather put a slight taint on proceedings, but still it was a fantastic experience to be out on the glavier, though some in the party were still undestandably treating the glacier with the respect it deserved and were watching their every step. Winding our way up the glacier, the weather was showing no signs of improvement, so the Zdarsky shelter (group shelter) was swiflty broken out along with copious morale in the form of food and drinks. We decided that, given the continued low visibility, we would treat our progress to that point as our initial recce for our intended summit, take the knowledge we had acquired about the glacier and the best path up it, and make our way back to camp. As we descended, Stella expressed curiousity about what it's like to fall in a crevass, and how easy a recovery is. So, roll up test dummy Stella, who gamely through herself into a crevass in the name our glacial training. Luckily, we were successfully able to avoid losing her down the crevass, and duly pulled her to safety. Thinking it looked fun, Dave decided he too would have a go. Practice, fun, call it what you will over, we continued our way back to our high camp, trying out a few other glacial skills that we would be needing over the coming days, finally getting our deserved hot brews and dinner back at our camp.


Thursday 21 Aug 2008


21aug08We woke in our new camp to some poor weather the pressur had dropped overnight and it meant a slow start. Dave was pleased because the marine VHF radio worked from the camp which meant we could keep the satellite phone for emergencies as we only had a solar panel for recharghing and it was not being very sunny. After a slow start walked onto the glacier and for some of the team it was a nerve racking experience because they thought the whole thing was going to open up front of them and swallow them up. Once across the galcier we saw a route up to the opposite col. Tarquin asked whether people fancied bagging an early peak and they were up for it so. Off we went up to Point 850m. It was easy! A simple walk and scramble up and the first two peaks were in the bag. Though on the second the Team were gutted to find a cairn so Tom kicked it over and victory was ours!!!!


Wednesday 20th of August 2008


LakeToday did dawn a little brighter and no damp stuff yeah. The aim was to carry the rest up of the kit to our high camp. So we set off with the  remainder of our kit which meant large and heavy rucsacs. The weather improved and we set a steady pace with everyone taking in the new vista as the cloud had broken up. We know saw the peaks that had been hidden yesterday and everyone seemed a little apprehensive with the new views. The glaciers were seen and the sharp peaks and ridges were all around. After four hours slog we reached high camp and quickly established it with tents nesting in near a small lake. We had a quick wander down to the glacier only 60m down and about 10mins walk.


Tuesday 19th of August 2008

19aug08Bonjour from Phase 2, camp Igimasaq Igy team... ps we're not to be confused with team Kitty!  We are now in location.

After the slow start on arrival in Greenland.. we are now in the our advanced base camp and the weather is still not good but "Yeah" it's stoppped raining. It is still however cold, dank and overcast... home from home really (just like a British summers day).

Todays plan is to go exploring to seek out and establish an advanced advanced base camp.  The overall idea is to stock this with the raw esencials and kit that we will need for the next five or so days so we can then use this as a jumping off point to bag a whole load of peaks :-D.  Having done a morning call with base at 08:00 we set about getting breakfast on and shaking out the gear we were going to "hump & dump" to the high point.  Making careful inventory of all the kit we each needed we each packed our bags with the essentials for a day out as well as 5 boxes of rations, a helmet, an ice axe, a set of crampons, a harness & individual climbing gear.  Additionally we divied out the fuel & cookers, the ropes and Tarers to the leader pack.

19aug08Setting off, our first priority was to find the river to fill up with water for our journey.  Finding the river was the easy task, finding a safe crossing point too a little longer however after a couple of attempts we discovered a wide expance with a good number of rocks for use as stepping stones


Well I think everyone else here has retreated into their cosy pits and left me to blog on my own so I am going to say ta ta for now.  Next blog will be in about 5 days when we are next back here.  "Ohhh" did I hear you cry... did you really expect me to lug this heavy comp to the top of a mountain.... take a hike!


Monday 18th of August 2008

Monday moring dawned bright and sunny... only joking, it was p*ssing it down still; in fact it hadn't stopped all night to be honest; (personally I think phase one nicked the nice weather when they left... the thieving b').  Having slowly extracated ourselves from our doss bags and then braved the elements, we were ready to gather our kit together in anticipation for the Zodiac ride across the Fijord to our advanced base camp.  Having scurried around to ensure we had all we would need group wise in our adavanced base camp we were ready to embark on our short trip.  Having been kicked out of our group tent by Kitty Cath's team as they needed to pack it :-( we stood around getting wet and 18aug08gibbering as we supped on hot tea.  Eventually it was our turn to don the padded emertion suits, load our kit onto the Zodiacs and hop aboard.  The ride across the Fijord was a bit of fun and uneventful and upon arrival we dragged our kit up the steep embankment to where our big green group tent stood in the domain of the cheeky arctic fox... or that was what we were told by the phase one campers.  Having set up our two person tents; Stella was on her own poor love... we congrigated in the big green tent and discussed the weather (very british) and our future plans.