Greenland. A snowmobilers Tale
A gravel strip with a couple of port-cabins was all that greeted us when we arrived by skiplane at Constable airport in the remote area of north east Greenland.. As a team of four were to provide a snowmobile logistics and guiding service for paying clients of tangent expeditions during the spring climbing season.
With just two weeks before the clients arrived, we had a lot of work ahead of us. First on our agenda, we needed to build a weather haven. (A big tent), at the airport to house all our equipment and protect us from the harsh arctic weather. With a structure this size we needed a solid wooden flooring and that meant removing all the snow by hand
We had prepared well ahead of time having freighted all our kit and equipment in advance to join the fleet of 3 shiny new lynx 600 grand-tourer snowmobiles waiting patiently at constable point. They needed putting together, servicing, and generally making ready for the coming season. We also needed to start venturing out to reccy our surroundings, finding passable routes over the sea ice to where the different mountain ranges started.
Finally finished!! Now it was time to turn our attention to what was out there! Greenland is one of the last wildernesses. There is just nothing for miles around ( except for the polar bears!). Our nearest settlement was a collection of prefab huts on the coast named Scorsbysund a days travel by snowmobile A port only accessible in summer if the sea ice breaks, It was only here we could buy petrol by the barrel. The only other settlement some 2000km further south was logistically too impractical.
Despite all the hard work, the effort was well worth it. There was still plenty of time to ski. I had a surreal experience while digging a sunken snowmobile out of deep deep powder in the middle of a high glacier on a mountain range. In between shovel strokes i would stop and look at at the Northern light dancing around my head above. A moment to remember for all time.
A week in our construction was taking shape. We were all looking forward to finishing so we could get organised and install a portable heater which we had in storage. Night time temperatures were in the negative 30oC. but the weather was playing ball and the warmth of the sun during the day was a welcome relief.
It was here in Greenland i met Keith Partridge, A friend of Paul Walker, the owner of tangent expeditions. Keith is one of the best expedition filmers out there . He has won awards worldwide and produced just amazing imagery for the BBC and others major broadcasters. I was fortunate enough to work with him and learn greatly from watching him edit over the shoulder in a tent, a little edit to promote the company. This encounter shaped my future and my experience in this industry is primarily as a result of this initial with meeting him. I dont think he knows how grateful i am.
With the season in full swing, we travelled to some amazing locations, saw incredible sights and skied and snowboarded many unclimbed mountains, many unnamed. The options for first ascents and descents are endless here in Greenland.
The weather can be stable, but if its not , batten the hatches because you can be in fir a rough old ride!!!