18 September 2018
We had travelled a little further up the fjord to a finger of land called Ingmikortilaq that sticks out with the intention of being able to climb up and watch the sun rise over the hills. This isn’t as bad as it sounds because the sun takes quite a long time to come up over the sides of the hills. Breakfast is at 7.00am and then we are boarding the zodiacs again at 8.00am.
We are in our walking groups and once we are on land, the chargers head off straight up the hillside and we (the Medium-fast group) are not far behind. We have Lauritz as our guide today and Michael (the geologist) with us again. Although it is steep the pace is good and we do stop regularly to admire the view. I am running out of superlatives to use but the view is again spectacular: the bay where the ship is is as flat as a millpond with icebergs around the edges but as we get up on the peninsular we look over to the main fjord and it is filled with newly forming sea ice and masses of icebergs. The Dauggard-Jensen Glacier is just around the corner and most of the ice is coming from that.
Each time we get a bit higher up we take lots of photos thinking it can’t possibly get any better but it does. If you had told us at the start that we would be climbing quite so high most of us wouldn’t have started but we coped easily as we tackled each section bit by bit and it was amazing and definitely worth the effort. The ground here was definitely permafrost and it was fascinating to see the ground and the sedges and ‘willows’ totally frosted. The lichens on the rocks seemed to cope alright with the cold too.
We were going to head out to the end of the peninsular to see if we could see around the corner to the glacier but the Chinese group was very loud so we decided to keep climbing up. Lauritz had radio contact with the Charger group who said they could see the glacier from just up a bit higher. And so could we when we reached the spot.
Our trek was 3 hours and we basically kept going until 2 hours were up, thinking that it would be easier coming back down. Personally, I was skeptical about this but even though it was steep, the ground wasn’t in the least bit slippery and we made good time going back down. Michael showed us all sorts of geological formations including a rare ‘pipe rock’ which is full of the burrows of ancient worms of some sort. They have named the tunnels and the rock but have no idea what the beastie is that formed them. Apparently pipe rocks are well known in Scotland but have never been found before in this part of the world. Because it is so remote, very little scientific exploration has happened here at all and Micheal is very excited about the prospect of spending 2 months out here identifying all the different rock types – many of which come from underneath the glacier and could be hundreds of thousands of years old.
We head back to the ship on the zodiacs with just enough time for a quick shower before an early lunch. We are going to spend the afternoon exploring as far west as we can go in the ship through all the ice that we saw in the morning. Visions of the Titanic come to mind for many of us and we hope that the captain isn’t too much of a risk-taker. We had nothing to worry about as he very skilfully piloted us through the rapidly moving ice, and the Ocean Nova just pushed its way through sheets of ice: sometimes with a groan and bump as it happened. It was amazing to look out at the ice and see it split apart in front of us.
It was so spectacular that many of us stayed out on deck as we travelled all the way up as far as we could get to the Dauggard-Jensen glacier. It was okay when we were in the sunshine but it was frigid when we went into the shade of the cliffs. On the side or aft decks it was relatively sheltered but out on the top deck bow the wind was evil. I stayed out front as long as I possibly could as we got right up close to the glacier but my hands got so cold that I couldn’t hold my camera any more. It took a long time in the lounge nursing a cup of tea until my fingers finally thawed out.
For the return trip I retreated to the Library at the stern on level 4 to write up these notes whilst watching the view back up to the glacier as we negotiated our way back down. There seemed to be a lot more big icebergs to avoid on the way back and a lot more thumps and bumps!
We have just been offered the opportunity to take on a Polar Plunge in a relatively ice-clear area of water!! And there are takers – we will have to go out and support them! 17 hardy souls took the plunge. I positioned myself on the deck above the loading ramp and got some good photos of some of the people we knew. I was entertained by 2 people who were pretending to be sports commentators and were hilarious.
It was a well orchestrated set up with one zodiac out in front and another to the side (with photographer), two of the crew were positioned on the ramp to assist with getting them back on board quickly and there was a doctor at the ready (with defibrillator), they had a life belt around their waists and tied on with a rope. Some jumped in and out very quickly whilst others performed for the camera. Some even swimming out a way – it was hilarious to see their faces at the point they realised that it was actually very cold and they really wanted to get back to the ship and they would have to swim fast to get there. All were warmed with a shot of vodka afterwards.
After dinner, we had a seminar from Tara (a New Zealander) who had done the first circumnavigation of Svalbard in a kayak in 2015 . Three of them took about 70 days, paddling through arctic ice, camping on ice cliffs, fighting off polar bears, trying to find their food drop. It was an amazing slide show and their adventure was fascinating (she did say that perhaps they had been a bit naive when they set off but they managed all the challenges thrown their way). I like adventure but also a bit more (a lot more) of a safety net than they had. Sometimes they were in their kayaks well away from land for 17-18 hours at a time and at other times they spent 12 hours just trying to scare the polar bears away from their camp.
We are woken by friends at around 11.30 to see the aurora – quite bright to start with but then clouds came over (and someone turned on all the top deck lights on the ship as well which made it difficult to see). We retired to bed again around 12.30.
Please join me over the next several posts as I take you on our Journey to the Arctic (and more).
Arctic Express: Northern Lights
Day 1: Copenhagen to Reykjavik
Day 2: Reykjavik to Constable Point, Greenland
Day 3: Scoresby Sund: Frederiksdal & Flyvefjord
Day 4: Scoresby Sund: Nordvestfjord & Ingmikortilaq
Day 5: Scoresby Sund: Eskimobugt & Immikkeerikajik
Day 6: Scoresby Sund: Danmark Island & Vikingsbugt
Day 7: Scoresby Sund: Cap Hope & Ittoqqortoormiit
Day 8: Scoresby Sund: Steward Island & Constable Point
Day 9: Constable Point back to Reykjavik
Day 1: Reykjavik: Blue Lagoon
Day 2: Golden Circle
Day 3: South Coast
Day 4: Jokulsarlon
Day 5: Eastern Fjords & Moorudalur Valley
Day 6: Moorudalur Valley & Lake Myvatn
Day 7: Akureyri & Trollaskagi Peninsular
Day 8: Grabrok Volcano & Snaefellsnes Peninsular
Day 9: Snaefellsness to Reykjavik
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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