The weather as we started was positively mild – around 5C at the bottom of the icefall at point 660, the starting place of pretty much all west-east Greenland expeditions around 90 minutes’ drive outside of Kangerlussuaq. 660 metres above sea-level – we knew we would have to slowly pull our 80kg pulks up to around 2,500m over the next couple of weeks before descending on the other side of the icecap. We were a little worried about whether the ice would be good and solid enough to ski on at the start, or whether we would have to carry the pulks over the moraine up to the glacier. Fortunately, while it was wet, we could still ski across the first few kilometres, saving a lot of time.
Progress was slow. The icefall is where the ice from the glacier leading up to the icecap descends down and crushes against the land, melting and fracturing as it comes to an end. The huge pressures and the warmer climate melting the ice create a maze of ice ridges, deep chasms and crevasses that await any adventurer making their way up. We were fortunate in that we had good visibility all the time we were on the icefall so we could work out a way through it all – had it been whiteout conditions it would have been a complete nightmare and we would have all had to be roped together in case anyone fell into any of the traps around us. Our guides, Elisabeth and Calle, were able to go ahead to try see the best route – it always seemed that as we got closer to the other side of the various ridges, we might be greeted with flatter ice to ski over… but no. On the other side of each ridge, there were just more ridges, more chasms and more challenges!
We all had to work together to make sure we got through alright: The pulks were at their heaviest, laden with food and fuel supplies for the next four weeks, and they would do their best to drag us back down the ice, or run into us as we went over ridges and down the other side. A lot of fun for sure, and it was good working our way through everything, but very limited with the distance we could go. We must have averaged around 6-7km those first three days. It was a relief as we got closer to the top and the ice gradually smoothed out and from then it was a matter of full speed ahead!