Jul 30 2007

diary #3

Category: Greenland diaryash @ 11:04 am

Thurs 11:47

It’s w@nk out there ….

Fri 1:15 pm

The weather finally lifted yesterday.  Aftechilling til 4pm we set off for the ‘Alpine’ region to the south, for a 3 day recce trip. We headed straight across the glacier and hit many superglacial streams, some of which were massive – no chance of crossing, and it was raining still.  Had to cross 3 big bands of moraine, all very loose, and we all found it hard ( full mountaineering kit 3 full days of food).  After 7 hours we made it to our recce camp – just up from a very big wonky boulder that I climbed up and proudly wee’d from 😀

(dodgy picture of me doing the buisness in my diary!)

Now sat waiting for it to cool down, so the ice can re-freeze properly, listening to Doc C snore and wondering about emptying the bladder again.  We think there’s a route through the big icefall up onto a series of glaciers that me and Phil worked out will take us through to the highest peak round here.  Today’s going to be a big day!

Saturday 0:25pm

Well, I was right there.  Just woke up – yesterday was a 16 1/2 hour day.  A bit full on.  Successful -we got the beast – but HARD!

We left recce camp at 4.30pm, still a bit warm but not meltin too fast.  Found a route INTO the icefall very quickly, then spent about 3 hours trying to find a route through.  Pretty dodgy at times, loads of massive (50′) seracs, hopping from block to block of shit ice over damn big holes.  Finally realised we couldn’t get through so decided to pull out, and try on the left hand side of the icefal, through some loose moraine/mud/rock.  This was far better after we’d got onto it, and led us round and above the icefall. 

The glacier above was heavily crevassed and after about an hour we found a route through it, leading us into the alpine bowl proper.  Awesome big wall climbing all around.  Headed for our intended route – the second incoming glacier from the right, with a large boulder at the bottom (henceforth known as “Brew Boulder”).

We’d taken 5 hours to get here.  Had a bite and a drink, then followed a thin strip of medial moraine up onto the next glacier, leading us into some more big crevasses (we were on wet glaciers now (i.e. hit the snow line and could not see where the crevasses were so easily), snow cold enough to hold …. mostly!), then a long, long snow plod up several kilometers of steeply rising ground ,with quite deep snow (knee depth) in places. 

245As I was leading the second rope (me, Chris Mosely, Ali, Terminator, Stu) I was really glad that I wasn’t breaking trail – I was knackred just following the steps!  Eventually crossed the bergschund and got to the col at the head of the valley.  Had a 5 min breather in the cold, then kicked right and headed for the top.  The temperature had dropped a lot now, the sweat (so much for gore-tex boots at stupid amounts of money!) in my boots was starting to freeze and I lost feeling in my toes … as we approached the snow dome we realised we were on the Greenland ice cap and could see for a good distance all around through the cloud, but most importantly we seemed to have hit the midnight sun (0230am), and the sun – which was directly in front of us as we headed up – was a glowing orange circular haze, lighting our way.  Stunning, very impressive.

228Gained the top, for shaking of hands and hugs.  Photies, got a GPS reference. Peak named as “Commandment Peak” – Phil came up with that as there was 10 of us stood on it! Height set at 2117 on my GPS – slightly different from that on the map.  Noted how cold it was, as I could put 90 degree kinks in our rope and hold it up so that it kept its shape.  Bit cold.  Then, with no degree of uncertainty, ran away.

Realised how tired I was on the way down, kept falling over.  Our steps had frozen, and so were throwing our footsteps off with each step, making my now defrosting toes scream in pain with each step (nb, with hindsight we should have lost crampons for the long plod down, would have made walking far easier).  After 2.5 hours we were back at the brew boulder, had a VERY strong sugary coffee which picked me back up again, then got back through the crevasse field and moraine / icefall pretty easily apart from the very last section – downclimbing some grade 1 ice.  Ali was having issues with it – her axe and points were not going in properly – we were so tired it was getting hard to concentrate properly.  She got down fine with just one small slip, which threw her confidence a bit, but Chris M was a star in talking her down – and to be fair had been keeping an eye on me all day too.  ‘Nuff respect to him for that.

Back to the bottom, finished at 0900, ate, then slept.

Jul 28 2007

diary #2

Category: Greenland diaryash @ 6:05 pm

Wed 9.19pm

Dear Diary, sorry it’s been so long, been a bit manic.  On Sunday we flew (after chilling til 3pm) to Milneland – the Renland landing strip had died.  Awesome flight, chilled landing and made Monsoon city on the beach (lots of Wild Country Monsoon Tents!).  After tea etc, forded the river and climbed the 260m Bimble Hill to find the midnight sun at 0145 – but got to the top for it to be cloudy!

On Monday, we were supposed to be the first group to Renland, but the food logistics had got a bit screwed with the change of landing venue, so the anti-glutens needed to go … plus the bivvyers also needed to go earlier rather than later, as we were told only a few boats were coming. So, we chilled at the beach, thinking we’d be leaving on Tuesday.  Played our Olympics, Long jump, triple jump, hurdles, races, then ‘ladders’, human pyramids and matt taught us how to breakdance. Badly. Then, JulieJulieJulie called us on the radio to say that they could fit us all into the boats (which had arrived in larger numbers) … we followed over to them with our kit – wading the estuary minus boots and trousers (!) and got into the waiting boat.

Then, the most amazing 45 min boat ride past teh Bear islands to Renland at around 30-40mph with our team (Geoff, Ali, Harriet, Jim, Sam and me) clutching the sides of the boat. I can now understand why the sea kayakers are doing what they are doing – the views were unreal.

We landed first, met the others, geared up and set off upstream (7pm).  Stopped just before the glacier at 10pm, had tea, then decided to carry on up and over this glacier to the planned campsite mid-way to base camp.  A straightforward dry glacier, few big holes but took some time – heavy packs and low energy levels were starting to take their toll – arrived at 2am on a very sandy beach  – some way inland.

Pitched the tents, then watched others arrive and jjj/tim have (what looked like) a mini-epic. 

Tuesday set off for base camp.  We knew there was a bit of a moraine field to get through, and after an hour or two of wandering through a desert (The Gobi Desert) we spend 6 bloody hours fighting over unsorted, unconsolidated shite moraine.  Really bloody hard, very demoralizing.  Not good.  Many pissed off people, but we were all SO happy when we got through!

We then had a 10km glacier plod, so after throwing all our food in a pot (Renland Hash mmmm), and having a brew we carried on.  Got in about 1am – Jack the Booth had already cleared a space for the tent on the moraine.  Big grins, and shots of whiskey from Dick! So Monday was 9am-3am, then Tueday was 1030 tik 2am.  A bit tired.

Today (Wednesday) has been slow.  Woke at 1pm (!) then chilled.  Built our circular social area between me, Jack, Ali and Sean, ate well, sorted stuff for tomorrow (a 3 day recce), chatted and chilled.  Oh and washed too.  Woo!

Ali just said I should quote her as:

“Ali is a moody cow, and she nearly killed 5 people”

As everyone else, she found it hard with the heavy weight of your life on your back through that evil moraine.

Need to stay up late tonight to switch my body clock around – bring on the beer!

Jul 24 2007

Diary entry #1

Category: Greenland diaryash @ 5:50 pm

(Taken from the diary that I kept whilst away – with a few edited bits and other additions)

Bastard Mozzies – 22/7

Sat in the -1* Hilton hotel/portacabin at Constable-Pynt, where there is an airstrip and not much else.  Baggage inc tent in a different country.  Hoping to be here by 1.30 pm tomorrow.  Plan is to head to Milneland now (Not Renland as planned as airstrip failed a landing test), then get boats to Renland – although these boats were supposed to have been ferrying the kayaks to the awaiting kayakers camped outside.

There are massive amounts of pack ice in the Fjord – the Kayakers have been stuck here for a few days, and they’re pretty pissed off now.  They’re about 5 days behind schedule, and have had enough of these damn cold temperatures plus the evil biting mosquitos.  Am glad I bought a head net.

Tested stove, got all kit that went in frieght, and have drawn 3 days of hill food to get me to base camp from here.

Had an excellent game of rounders last night with the airport staff, on an international runway.  Not often you get chance to do that!

Shared Rum in chocolate pudding with Ali for tea tonight – awesome.  Big grins happening.

The fly in was awesome.  Iceland was ok but brief – not there for many hours.  Felt bloody rough yesterday – bad guts. Some sniffles today – need some vit C!