As we sped across the ice, and left the western mountains and the icefall behind, we spotted the DYE2 abandoned radar station from around 28km away. A small black spot on the horizon that gradually loomed larger and larger as we got closer over the next day and a half. It provided a nice reference point for navigating – a welcome change from constantly looking at the compass and looking for snow patches that stood out in the distance to help us maintain straight lines. I didn’t know what to expect though it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the journey.
DYE2 was one of a network of over 60 radar stations built by the US across Canada and Greenland to provide early warning against possible missile attacks by the USSR during the Cold War. It was abandoned in 1988 as the Cold War came to an end and the technology was pretty much obsolete. It has just been left to the mercy of the elements since then. It felt like quite a milestone to get there and was a real sign of the progress we had made. It was difficult gauge how tall it was as we approached. We thought it must have stood around 30m above the ice but then as we slowly but surely got closer we could see how the snow and ice had built up around it and there was at least another 20m or so that had been obscured by the drifts that had accumulated since the facility was abandoned. It felt like quite a milestone to get there and was a real sign of the progress we had made.
Once we finally arrived, we looked for ways to get in. Morten Obel found one, walking on a roof that was easily accessible from the snow, to reach an open doorway. It was like a museum. Some rooms had been filled with snow over the years as the weather took effect, while other rooms were in really good condition, as if people just disappeared a few weeks ago. Various documents with instruction manuals for the running of the facility. Magazines and sofas, as if people just upped and left; very spooky in many regards – could definitely imagine it being a great setting for a horror movie or series as we went through it with their flashlights! Rooms where other expeditions had actually stayed after they got caught there in bad weather. A poignant moment was seeing a mock trip advisor review written on the walls of one of the bedrooms, signed by members of an expedition team that had been pinned down at the station for five days due to fierce storms in May 2021. One of those was “Dixie”, who we later realised was Dixie Dansercoer, a Belgian explorer who died just a month later on 7 June 2021 while on a south-to-north kiting expedition across Greenland, after falling into a crevasse. A tragic death of a great adventurer.
We managed to make our way to the radar dish inside the dome at the top, from where we were able to get amazing views of the icecap in all directions. Klaus brought some schnapps with him as a surprise for all of us to celebrate the moment. The view was fantastic but at the same time it was pretty much the same in all directions accept for a nearby ice runway and small airbase. Still plenty more travelling to do over the next weeks!