Greenland 2019

Greenland coverage in the media continues to increase


The UK isn’t the first country to seek to free the shackles of the Euroempire.  After a referendum in 1982, Greenland eventually left the EEC, forerunner of the EU and subsequently prospered. How border issues have been solved in other cases was reported by the Irish Times.

Climate change

There has been a textual tsunami of articles on how climate change is affecting Greenland, much of it focusing on the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels. The BBC has various articles including some with comparative photos and maps.

The climate scientists haven’t always got it right, managing to attract headlines for the wrong reasons – such as the subsequent correction of data behind one of the most significant headlines of the year.

Some personal accounts provide a more interesting perspective and illustrate the rapidity of the change. This article about a sheep farm, reveals that drought conditions meant that they “had to buy hay over the past few years from countries in Europe, thousands of miles to the south“.   Sheep must fetch a very high price in Greenland?

The effect on infrastructure is captured in this article about how Greenland’s main airport will close to most commercial traffic by mid-2024 as melting permafrost is damaging its runway.  Similarly, the effect on archaeological remains is unwelcome and may result in significant loss as reported by Scientific American.


Probably the major headline of the year was along the lines of Trump wants to buy Greenland! There’s quite a bit of history to this topic as explained here, including how this is not the first attempt to ‘buy’ Greenland.

We’ve reported in an earlier post on the related economic issues, particularly mining and tourism. A more recent article sheds some light on this and the relationship to the Trump overtures.

Scotland and Greenland

The earlier post referred to above also commented on some of the similarities between northern Scotland and Greenland, and the position each country finds itself in – heavy dependence on tourism alongside self-inflicted threats to the natural environment – to which we can add dependence on immigrant labour.  This article from the Nordic Labour Journal sets out the situation being faced by Greenland.


1969 group mark their 50th!

Enjoyment and sorrow remembered

The surviving members of the 1969 expedition met on 30th May, 2019 for a reunion dinner. In the photo above they are in approximately the same positions as in the group photo of 1969. Missing is Wilf Tauber, who died in a climbing accident in 1972. He was an outstanding expedition member, a strong and contagiously enthusiastic climber, and his early death brought great sorrow to us all. Continue reading “1969 group mark their 50th!”

How old?

A more recent event to reflect on here. Last month saw a reunion that included many members of the various Greenland expeditions led by Phil Gribbon. Phil was celebrating his 90th birthday – or so he says! Always evasive when asked his age and at times going to some length to avoid others gaining sight of either his passport or driving licence details that might provide the necessary evidence, why should we believe him now? Continue reading “How old?”

An impression made an impression

There was a distinct herring-bone arrangement of drainage ditches next to the south end of the Qingua Dalen river, not apparent as we walked through it, but visible from the mountains nearby.   We did not speak of it much at the time, but it comes to mind as I think back to our days there.  I sometimes regret not having taken a photograph.

Continue reading “An impression made an impression”

Qinguadalen – a poem

Grey glacier water,
Sharp red spires,
Ice towers falling,
Tranquil distant snow,
Thick birch scrub
And stinging flies.
Crackling tang of fire
And dancing green auroras
In black northern skies.
So deep, so far it was
Up that sleeping valley:
We shall not find that camp again.

P.Biggar September 1971

Qinguadalen had an impact on all who traversed the birch-scrubbed-fly-ridden valley floor. For some of us it was a memorable single trek to deliver in-advance supplies for those who would inhabit the camp at the head of the valley. For others, it was multiple trips. In the case of Peter and Richard three return journeys. Peter was so affected he wrote a poem.

Continue reading “Qinguadalen – a poem”

Then and Now – Narsarsuaq

In 1971 Narsarsuaq felt remote and abandoned – a mysterious airstrip with empty control tower and massive, gaunt, deserted hangars complete with stories of World War II pilots long gone crazy at Blue West 1. We dropped out of the sky right on schedule, in our deluxe Icelandair jet from Iceland. And then our adventure began. We each had a pack with personal items, but the bulk of our food and tents were still on a ship off the Greenland coast (stuck in the pack ice on their long voyage from Scotland via Denmark, as we would later learn). But there was another ship, the MV Taterak – albeit very small and very, very full of people – that would take us down the fjord to overnight at Julianehaab (now Qaqortoq) and then eventually wend its tortuous way through the ice clogged fjords to Nanortalik in the deep south. Continue reading “Then and Now – Narsarsuaq”

Tourism challenges in Greenland and northern Scotland

Greenland tourism seems to have taken off. Would I want to go now? I don’t think so. We had the best of it in 1971 and I wouldn’t want to dilute the wonderful memories.

I’m not sure that I don’t feel a bit of the same about Scotland. I liked the fact that in the 1970’s, if you chose carefully, it was rare to encounter others while out for the day or longer. This is no longer the case with at times, flocks of hill-walkers traversing the country and areas such as Skye being declared ‘full’.

For northern Scotland, road improvements to the south have come at a price. Continue reading “Tourism challenges in Greenland and northern Scotland”