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    T r a v e l R e p o r t-S e i t e  2
 
 
 
M e n u e
 
 
 
   
 
   
East Greenland - In the tight grip of the pack ice
 
 
 
  As my original plan turned out not to be feasable, I now try to circumnavigate the island from the opposite direction, in the hope that the ice fields have dissolved in the past two and a half weeks. Having arranged with Nanu - Travel to bring a part of my provisions to Bear Island by ship, I contact Karina by satellite phone, who confirms that a ship will be there in 3 days. So the next day I head north.
 
 
 
Musk oxen, who are only as tall as ponies, form a defensive circle to protect themselves from attackers.
 
 
  In the afternoon, I come across a herd of musk oxen on a hill, I can already see them from quite a distance. I land and slowly sneak up on them, armed with a tripod and a gun. The musk oxen have two different defense strategies. In case of danger, they either form a circle to fend off enemies with their horns, or they simply run them over. As I don't want to fall victim to the second technique, I keep a rocky stream between myself and the herd. The animals are watching me a little warily, but they don't seem particularly worried. But when I later make the gun safe back at the boat, they are startled by the metallic click and take off at a wild gallop.
 
  The dense Iceberg Alley lies between me and the Milne Land in the background. On my way to Bear Island, I have to cross this maze of ice giants. Due to the narrow gaps, there is an increased risk of ice breakoff.
 
 
 
 

It's a sunny, windless day, and the continuation of my journey is accompanied by the constant creaking of the icebergs, which drift close to the coast in large numbers. This makes me a little nervous, because the next day I'm facing another fjord crossing, where I'm going to have to find a passage through the maze of icebergs. That evening, I sit at the beach for a long time, and watch the endless ice breakoffs that constantly crash down the icebergs and set off steep tidal waves. The next day starts with a cloudy sky and drizzle. Due to the low temperatures, there is little movement in the ice today, so I am able to cross Iceberg Alley without problems. After a few kilometers, I reach open water and set course straight for Bear Island, which is 45 km away. As the mountain slopes are much steeper here, I intend to land at a bay with a hut indicated on my map. I'm hoping to find good landing conditions and drinking water there. Just before the bay, I pass another huge iceberg that appears quite brittle even from a distance. I have just pulled the boat onto the protruding rocks of the sheltered bay and unloaded the first two bags, when I am startled by a loud cracking sound. I watch as 800 m away from me a broad wall of ice plunges down the iceberg into the depths. A tall, breaking wave develops in front of the iceberg, and quickly turns into a flat swell that approaches fast. I have barely a minute to prepare for it. I can't pull the boat higher onto the rocks because of its weight. So I just stand next to the boat in my drysuit with the tow rope in my hand and wait. The first wave is still slowed down by the protruding rocks. But the next four breakers crash over them, and I stand in the surf up to my hips while the boat is being thrown from left to right against the rocks. I am lucky, and my sturdy PE- boat doesn't get damaged.

 
 
 
 
The hut indicated on the map hasn't offered any shelter for a long time. These traditional turf houses deliberately only measure a few square meters, so that they can be heated in winter.
 
 
  But there is no sign of the promised hut. I go on an extensive hike and discover the remains of a small turf house. In a deep valley, I finally hear the low gurgle of a brook in between huge boulders. At least my fresh water supply is guaranteed for today. The next day, I carry on to Jytte Hawn, as that's where I'm supposed to meet with Nanu - Travel. Unfortunately, the expected ship arrives neither today nor the day after.
 
 
  The Øfjord, too, sees many ice giants drift in with the east wind. Numerous glacial offshoots spill over the high mountains into the valley.
 
 
 
  I hear that the MS Nanu has run into engine trouble. A replacement ship is supposed to arrive 3 days later. Unfortunately, I can't do without this baggage, as I'm missing a week's food supply. At this point, it's clear to me that I won't be able to complete the planned circumnavigation. I've already lost too much time. I would now lack the reserves to cope with the unsure ice conditions. To make use of this enforced waiting period, I take a trip to the Ofjord. It is situated north of the Milne Land, and it is bordered on both sides by steep, approx. 2.000 meter high mountains from which plunge numerous glaciers. A light tailwind carries me past ice giants that glisten and shimmer blue in the sun. Because most of the rock faces rise vertically from the sea, there are very few possibilities to land here.
 
  West of the Grundvikskirken peak, I come across the broad, flat back of a lateral moraine. There are several even areas that look like they've been deposited there, and that are excellent  camping sites. From here, around 50 meters above the fjord, I have a wonderful view across the fjord and the glaciers that roll down from the Milne Land on the other side.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The next day, I visit one of the gigantic glacial offshoots, that, sadly, has already shrunk due to global warming and moved away from the coast by a few hundred meters. I have herewith reached the most westerly point of my trip, and I slowly start to head back.
 
 
  In the meantime, the boat from Nanu - Travel has reached  Bear Island and deposited my remaining supplies. So I set out for the north east, as I'd like to take a short excursion to the Nordwestfjord, the cradle of the icebergs. On my way there, the ice grows ever denser, so that I have to put up with long detours to find a way through. These days, I have the gun ready to hand on the foredeck at all times, so that I'm prepared should a polar bear show itself among the floes. For the first time, I notice strong tidal currents that cause rapid movements between the floes, and I have to be doubly careful not to get shut in by the ice. Thin new ice has already formed in sheltered spots between the floes. That's no wonder, since the water temperature stays around freezing point the whole year round.
 
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Last update: 10/31/08
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