Then and Now – Nanortalik

…and somewhere to sit


In 1971 Nanortalik was a delightful little town – except that we spent three weeks there waiting for the ship with our food and equipment to penetrate the dense coastal pack ice. We had expected to be there for perhaps three days. But we made do. We ate the construction canteen out of food. We moved into an empty house. We got jobs mixing cement. We had philosophical discussions late into the night. And we walked all over the island constructing an elaborate decimal hill-identifying scheme that started with Hills 1, 2 and 3 and proceeded to Hill 1.5 and Hill 1.75 etc.

One of the best viewpoints was located at this boulder on Hill 1, looking across to Sermersoq Island.   In 2016 what appears to be the same boulder appears in a post from our Arctic Adventures guide Ida Nordkvist Permin.

Ida-Nanortalik-2016sm 800

(The earlier Then and Now – Coastal Transport, has also been updated with 2017 information)


50 years have gone by…

A reunion of members of the 1967 expedition

Five members of the 1967 West Greenland Expedition held a fifty-year reunion on 21-23 September 2017 at a delectable wooden cabin in Glen Feshie.  They were Alan Robertson, Roger Nisbet, Bill Band, David Meldrum, and Phil Gribbon : Alan North sent best wishes and some pics to project.  Missing members were John Hall who has been untraceable for years, while Wilf Tauber tragically drowned in a climbing accident at Anglesey in 1971.  Nisbet and North are dwellers in USA and it was good to have their support. Continue reading “50 years have gone by…”

Going to land?

Phil recalls an earlier flight from 1965

It just didn’t seem right. Our aircraft had been losing height and was now descending in a wide sweeping spiral. No reason was given for this behaviour. What on earth was going on?  Ahead the pack ice was drifting down the east coast of Greenland and glistening in the sunlight under a startlingly blue sky. We were dropping steadily down towards a hostile sea packed with a jumbled jigsaw of broken ice floes and dotted with icebergs drifting calmly southward. Continue reading “Going to land?”

Then and now – coastal transport

Cruise Greenland’s West Coast

Sarfaq Ittuk

In 2016 it’s easy to cruise the west coast of Greenland as an independent traveler or on a travel agent package (for example Mammut in Reykjavik).  We sailed on the 73 metre MS Sarfaq Ittuk of Greenland Umiaq Line for three days from the World Heritage Ice Fjord at Illulissat to the village of Narsaq in southern Greenland.  The voyage features delightful cabins, local food and fabulous views of icebergs, mountains and wildlife.  The ship carries a local guide, and we also greatly enjoyed our Arctic Adventure hosts Ane in Ilulissat and Ida in Narsaq. Continue reading “Then and now – coastal transport”

Then and now – global warming?

The Icecap and Global Warming

South Greenland ice-cap 1971

In the 45 years since 1971 some things have remained the same and others have changed dramatically.  In 1971 Greenland was an exotic destination mainly visited by large formal expeditions.  In 2016 it’s fairly easy to be an “adventure” tourist with regular flights from Iceland and regular flights up and down the coast – not to mention the delightful Arctic Umiaq Lines ship “Sarfaq Ittuk” that we used to get from Ilulissat to Narsaq.  But of all the obvious changes, the most disconcerting is the clear evidence of global warming. Continue reading “Then and now – global warming?”

Then and now – transit via Keflavik

Transit via Keflavik airport, Iceland

Expedition member Ian Walton has just returned to California from a July 2016 anniversary visit to the west coast of Greenland, 45 years after the 1971 University of St. Andrews mountaineering expedition.  Here, in the first of a short series of then and now pictures and thoughts, are details of transit via Keflavik airport in Iceland.

Keflavik airport 1971
Camping at Keflavik

In 1971 it was a single room terminal with no passenger comforts, and we had to spend the night before our ongoing flight to Narsarsuaq.  We were hard up students.  So we gathered our packs and headed out to the end of the runway to unroll our sleeping bags on the tundra.  In the middle of the night we were woken by the sound of an American Military Police jeep – Keflavik was still an active NATO base in 1971.  A broad Texas accent said “You can’t sleep here ..…–….. but I don’t see why the hell not!”  And with that the jeep departed and we returned to our interrupted slumbers.  In retrospect, the red flag may have been an unnecessary provocation. Continue reading “Then and now – transit via Keflavik”