Kayak & Climb in NW Greenland
Location: North from Upernavik; Lat & Long: 72°46'59.9"N 56°07'56.3"W
Members: Olly Sanders, Roger Chandler, supported by NIkolaj Sørensen
Dates: 24 July to 20 August 2017
Objectives: Self contained journey in sea kayaks going north of Upernivik to explore the numerous potentials for climbing on the many islands in this area. The main objectives will be alpine style routes.
Report: The team of Roger Chandler and Olly Sanders, left the UK on 24 July and after four flights and two overnight stops arrived in Upernavik .We were staying with NIkolaj Sørensen who was renting us boats and providing our gun. His wife Zennifer had managed to get our barrels of food and equipment collected from the Arctic Line office for us, so we were able to pack and leave the next day. We had 23 days food, climbing equipment ,axes and crampons and all the usual camping gear.
The departure day day was windy and rough seas, but we managed to leave and paddle for a few hours before it got too rough. The weather improved and we managed to find a very nice, but mosquito ridden campsite, however we did manage our first new route 5 pitches at HVS 4c called Arctic Frenzy.The next few days were spent paddling towards the Greenland Icecap, and we did 3 more single pitch routes on a small island all at about HVS 5a. While using this island as a base we paddled and landed near the Ice cap and with our crampons and axes managed to get up on the Ice cap.
We then continued down the carving ice fjord negotiating the ice and headed back south over the next few days going around Sanderson’s Hope on a very misty day with poor visibility and difficult navigation.
We spent a few days on Quersoorssuaq Island. First we did a new peak at about 830 m involving roped scrambling with a magnificent view from the top looking towards the Impossible Wall done by an American/Belgium team in 2012 and we also did another 5 pitch route HVS 5a Rolling Stone from another campsite on the island a few days later, another mix of loose rock and some good climbing. Roger also cleaned up a lot of plastic from this campsite over a few days and we burnt as much as we could. We were surprised how much rubbish was floating around, a lot coming from poor attempts at burning rubbish in the small local communities especially Upernavik.
We now continued north and camped for a few days, doing another excellent 5 pitch route E2 5b Big George. We also paddled across the fjord to get a new mountaineering peak in on Nutarmiut island, this involved ice axe and crampons on a easy glacier approach to a 900 m peak and a long day and then a paddle back to our campsite.
The good weather continued and we proceeded north to Augipilagtog, there we a lot of sea ice and icebergs around coming out of Upernavik is fjord and the journey was slow paddling through all the ice and we eventually camped on rocky spur on an island after a few attempts at landing on other island that had dogs on them.
The following day started well, but sea mist came in and our way north was blocked so we headed west again weaving through all the ice, it felt considerably colder. We decided to head south the following day. To avoid the ice and camped on Artlisssuag with the hope of more climbing as we were on our last few days, however that night it snowed on the high peaks and was very cold the next morning, so we decided to head back in, the final sting was the wind picked up and the sea state and we had a lively paddle back to Upernavik.
We were out for a total of 20 days and carried all our food, we kayaked 280 km, climbed 3 new multi pitch routes ranging from HVS to E2, and some new single pitches, we did two new mountain peaks, one involving roped scrambling at 800 m and the other a glacier approach involving axes and crampons. We had no rest days.
© Olly Sanders
The Kayaks, 2 X prijon sea yaks, provided the perfect vehicle for exploring
Tent: Terra nova hyperspace
Ice axes and crampons
2 x 50 m climbing ropes
Rock boots, helmet, harness
Werner paddles, Mitchell Palm and Kokatak paddling equipment
We carried an EPIRB but no Sat Phone
Gun. Although we carried this we saw no sign of bears
Food: a mix of dried and boil in bag .We managed a lot of cooking on open fires
Many thanks for our support from: Gino Watkins Memorial Fund; A & J Simpson Award