DAY 1 Flights to Kangerlussuaq, west coast of Greenland.
Day 1. Flight from Copenhagen or Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq on Greenland’s west coast. We use the day for buying the last bits, packing and preparing before having a last proper meal in a restaurant.
Day 2. We finish packing up the sledges and change into the expedition clothing that will stay on for the next 3 weeks. Right after lunch we drive to the Height 660 (Høyde 660) at the foot of the icecap. Depending on the time of the day, we either camp for the night and arrange the sledges etc, or we do the first kilometres to get the feel for the challenge. Tents are up, stoves are burning – it’s the first night of the expedition!
DAY 3 Crossing the Icefall.
Day 3-4 (approx). For the first days we need to keep an open mind as we fight our way through the Icefall. The state of the Icefall depends totally on the amount of snow during the winter and the weather. This area can be almost desert-like and years with very little snowfall will result in a wild and exposed ice field. Our track through this area can meander through slushy and wet sections and hard blue ice. Melt rivers, small lakes and crevasses are par for the course. That means crampons, lots of up and down and a pretty tough struggle to reach the snow and getting on the skis, sometimes carrying the sledges and food for longer periods of time. With lots of snow, we can put on skis right away and do good distances from the first day. Whatever happens, this part is very beautiful and you will (if you are in shape) enjoy it tremendously.
Over the next few days the team will settle into a rhythm and we will lengthen our time on skis.
DAY 5 Reaching the plateau, heading for DYE II.
Day 5-9. Today we may conquer the last stage of the Icefall and reach the plateau. As we break out of the lower (and wildest) part of the icefall, the landscape transforms into big rolling hills that rapidly gain altitude. After another day or two we are out of the icefall and break off easterly as we aim for DYE II. The terrain continues to rise, but slowly the landscape flattens out and we can enjoy the Plateau. We have arrived on the inland ice and it is wonderful to gaze forward and see an uninterrupted sheet of ice stretching limitlessly to the horizon. As the terrain becomes less difficult, we are rewarded with good daily mileage, but the going is still tough as we are dragging heavy pulks uphill. It’s time to start counting kilometers and gaining altitude.. In the first 6 days we will gain 1144 meters.
DAY 10 Arriving at DYE II and rest day.
Day 10 (or 11?). If the weather is good, DYE II will show at the horizon some 25-27km away. That makes navigation very much easier. As we get there we camp and enjoy a very well-deserved rest day visiting the station. Apart from having a look at the monstrous relic from the cold war, we go over the equipment, sleep, eat and drink. Since we have started we have climbed up more than 1500 meters of altitude.
DAY 12 Heading towards the ‘Summit’ at 2600 meters.
Day 12-18. As we leave DYE II we move into the flattest part of the journey. These plains here are beautiful, and we do great distances as our bodies respond to the break. But we do still gain altitude as we are still some 5-600 metres from the highest point. That is called the ‘Summit’ and is a long and rounded ridge going in south-north direction up Greenland. As we get near, the wind and the weather may be a bit undecided before we finally start feeling that the wind hits us from behind! Then we know we are on the home stretch. Just as significantly, we pass the halfway point of our journey: 180 miles (290 kilometers) down and only 170 miles (274 kilometers) to go. We are at 8,138 feet (2,480 meters) above sea level.
DAY 19 Skiing downhill towards the sea; arrive at the fjord.
Day 19-24. After Summit our next goal was the GPS waypoint for Isortoq Turn. Isortoq Turn was the place where we would stop our eastward progress and turn south toward the coastal village of Isortoq. From our position at Summit, Isortoq Turn was a daunting 140 miles (225 kilometers) away. The first day we may only descend 50 metres. But soon we go down more and as the wind pushes from behind the distances increase. These days are a strange feeling of wanting to get to the end and not wanting this wonderful experience to end.
During this day we will see something that we had not laid eyes on since leaving Point 660: bare rock! We ski down an arête and it is as if someone had drawn a curtain open. Suddenly we can see miles into the distance. Distant mountains and a frozen lake lay directly ahead. A water sky showed that the sea is not far away.
As we break into the icefall, more nunataks come into view in front of us. As we zigzag down we first see mountains, then the ocean, then the icebergs littering the sea before we see real land!
Pushing hard we hit the first moraine as we stretch the day – and some hours later we are down by the fjord, touching gravel at the east coast! The last days are a struggle again, handling the icefall with its melting rivers, melting lakes, crevasses and ups and downs, however with light pulks and our goal firmly in sight.
DAY 25 Boat transfer to Isortoq.
Day 25-26. Depending on what time of the day we get down (if it is very late we camp) we follow the sea-ice out the fjord. As the ice ends, we wait for an Inuit to come and get us by boat and soon we are in the tiny (but very authentic) hunting and fishing village of Isortoq. Here we stay in the ‘Service House’ and visit the store. Food is then the only thing on the agenda – apart from going around and taking photos. Although the entire population is not much more than sixty, it has a well-stocked general store, reliable electric service and excellent cell phone coverage.
The next day we fly by helicopter to Tasiilaq.
DAY 27 Flights back to Copenhagen and the UK.
Next. Tasiilaq is a very picturesque town and the ‘capital’ of the east coast. Her we (hopefully) get out clean clothes from the mail, shower and enjoy big lunches, bigger dinners and huge evenings…
The next day (we recommend a stay over just in case…) we fly out early in a helicopter to Kulusuk and the airport there. From there most of us will fly over to Iceland and home after a night in Reykjavik, while other option is to fly back over the ice to Kangerlussuaq and home via Copenhagen (all letting the adventure sink in and – pondering where to go next?).