The Cardinal

The Qinguadalen peaks made an early impression…


Cardinal at the head of Qinguadalen

Although I had seen big mountains in the Eastern Alps, the Cardinal of Qinguadalen was by far the most impressive peak I had ever set eyes on.  It seemed incredible that we were planning to climb it.  I couldn’t see how this might be achieved.  We spent a day in reconnaissance.  Bob and Richard went one way, John and I another. Continue reading “The Cardinal”

Nostalgia for Nanortalik

A memorable sojourn in 1971

Concrete block construction Nanortalik 1971

A strange image to get nostalgic about – two of our team busy feeding a cement mixer which in turn is producing the mix for a supply of concrete-teethed blocks.  These blocks were to protect a new water supply from icebergs as the pipeline crossed the seabed of a small inlet. Continue reading “Nostalgia for Nanortalik”

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”

Where are they now?

Recollections of a journey to Nanortalik aboard the Taterak

A stop off en-route to Nanortalik

It was a misty mystery journey over two days aboard the coastal vessel Taterak**, from Narssarssuaq to Nanortalik, with an overnight stop at Qaqortoq (then called Julianehaab). This was the first sailing of the 1971 season – previous attempts had been defeated by the density of the summer pack ice. Small settlements would emerge out of the sea mist as our transport nuzzled its way towards a quay through the pack ice. Fish drying racks, large aerial masts and coloured timber dwellings characterised the settlements. At times, the mist would retreat and we were gifted dramatic views in all directions – superb seascapes or glimpses of remote coastal settlements against a background of magnificent mountains. Continue reading “Where are they now?”