Monday 15 April 2024

Thirty Years Ago In Greenland


First snow camp

Searching through my rather disorganised photos from film days for more Canadian Rockies ones for the forthcoming reissue of my book High Summer I came across some black and white prints from a trip to SW Greenland in 1994.

On Tasermuilt fjord

The pictures are from the first four days of a two week trip - I'll see if I can find some from the rest of the trip. I was leading the expedition for a company called Mountain & Wildlife Ventures for whom I worked every winter and spring in the 1990s on ski tours. On this trip I had a co-leader, a mountain guide from the Lake District called John White, as we planned on climbing some summits. I was responsible for the ski touring and the camping, John for the mountaineering.

John White

A fishing boat took us some 50+km up a fjord hemmed in by magnificent rock spires and towers rising some 1500 metres out of the water. This was a breathtaking landscape.

A view from the boat

The boat dropped us on a beach near the head of the fjord where we camped for one very windy night. For the next two weeks we were on our own. With ski gear, climbing gear, camping gear, and all our food our loads were heavy so we'd brought two pulks to handle some of it. As there was no snow lower down these were more of a nuisance at first.

The first two days were spent moving our gear inland to the toe of a glacier that would take us up to the icecap. This was slow hard work. The first day we managed 4km, the second 8. The scenery was wonderful though.

First inland camp

The glacier was steep enough that hauling our pulks up using skis, or more likely crampons (the glacier ice was hard), looked difficult - and there were stony ice-free sections to ascend too. John's climbing and mountain rescue (he was a member of a Lake District team) came in useful here and he set up a pulley system that worked well. Soime members of the group didn't really like him referring to the pulks as stretchers though!

Our first camp on snow was at the top of this glacier. From there we climbed much more easily to the icecap and what was meant to be our base camp for climbs and ski tours over the next week. This didn't happen though. Instead we sat in the tents for four days as a warm, wet storm raged, wrapping us in mist and rain.

When there was finally a clearance we decided we should head down whilst we could do so safely. We stopped again at the toe of the glacier and made one easy ascent of a small peak that was actually lower than our camp on the icecap. Then it was back down to a beach camp and a day waiting for the boat. 

Even though we hadn't gone far, just some 20k in a straight line, it had been an exciting trip in a glorious wild landscape. Mind you, the next two years we went to California!


Photographic note: the original photos were taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO black and white print film with a Nikon FM2 SLR and Nikon 24mm lens. I photographed the prints with my Sony a6600 camera and Sony 35mm lens and processed the raw files in DxO Photolab and the HP5 Plus rendering in DxO FilmPack.

I also carried a Nikon F801 SLR and Nikon 28-70 zoom lens which I used with slide film. I'll have to see if I can find these images.

1 comment:

  1. Greenland may compete with Iceland as a destination for photographers!