Arctic Mountains

G4 Expedition, Watkins Mountains, East Greenland

May 15 2004 - Setting Base Camp

Roll call at the guesthouse in Isafjordur at 07:30AM. Group breakfast in the kitchen before packing the bags again. The northwest of Iceland was still misty, and the weather didn't look promising at all.

Flight company called 09:10AM. It was a "GO". Yes! Lots of tension just poured out. We were on our way!

We went to the hangar at the airport to pick up the sledges that had been sent from Norway in advance. We weren't sure if there would be one or two flights, and had to prepare accordingly. Two teams would be identified, and we would also need to take into consideration that one of the teams could be dropped off somewhere else, in case of sudden bad weather. I hoped this would not ever happen, as it would be a very cumbersome start of the expedition. But everyone agreed it would be better to be on Greenland, rather than waiting in Iceland.

My mind wandered about the possibility of a separate drop off point. Petter and I made sure our GPS devices were set up equally. The pilot would bring back the position of team 1, and team 2 would simply just have to get there. Each team would be carrying one sledge, with cooking equipment, food and tent.

The pilot decided to bring everyone in one flight. The weight control we had feared (we were almost OK, perhaps only a couple of Kg above the 180Kg equipment limit) never happened. The pilot just asked about the weight of each sledge or backpack, as he had to choose a location in the plane. He never seemed to be bothered with any math. One was tempted to dwell on all the extra useful stuff we could have brought, but concluded quickly that you don't mess with the weight of an airplane. 11:30AM, the plane fired up the engines. We were on our way for sure!

We were flying above an endless sea of clouds. The air pressure inside the cabin was just as it was on the outside - equal to 3500m of altitude. I started to feel a little dizzy. That was almost as high as Gunnbjørn Fjeld. Perhaps this flight would do my general altitude problems some good.

Just as we reached the Watkins Mountains, the weather improved dramatically. Endless fog was now replaced with an endless chain of sharp and unfriendly mountains and icefalls. What a landscape! We landed 13:15PM just outside the Tromsø base camp. They were out making tracks towards Gunnbjørn Fjeld. We moved 700m closer to Gunnbjørn Fjeld and put up our base camp there. By 16:45PM, our base camp was up and running. Including a solid arctic toilet with built-in wind protection and capacity for 1 week. I volunteered to take this job, as I had never dug a proper toilet out in the open before.

All 3 tents were put up. The plan was to have 3 persons in each tent, but the tents weren't as big as I had thought. The third tent could be used for medical conditions, but while everyone was healthy, I saw no reason not to utilize it. Torstein felt the same way, and we became "roomies". I had only been on an evening hike with Torstein before, but he seemed like a very nice fellow. I was convinced we would get along well.

We took an evening ski-trip up to 2600m in the tracks made by the Tromsø team. We talked to one of them upon their return the same evening. They hadn't made it to the summit, but were satisified with breaking snow up to 3200m. The 2nd trip wouldn't be all that hard. Besides, it was pretty cold in the evening. We cooked dinner and discovered that one gas burner had gone bad. We went to bed 21:30PM. We were now on Iceland time, with a 2 hour offset from the body clock. We fell asleep quickly.

1. Preparing for departure at Isafjordur (240KB) 2. Preparing for departure at Isafjordur (215KB) 3. Repackaging in the hangar (192KB) 4. Boarding... (192KB) 5. Inside the Twin Otter cabin (203KB) 6. Arriving Greenland (284KB) 7. Arriving Greenland (269KB) 8. Arriving Greenland (307KB) 9. Arriving Greenland (193KB) 10. Arriving Greenland (285KB) 11. Arriving Greenland (261KB) 12. Finally on the ice (390KB) 13. Gunnbjorn Fjeld seen from the drop-off point (418KB) 14. The Tromso camp and a wonderful background (801KB) 15. Unloading the equipment (205KB) 16. Testing the equipment (204KB) 17. Testing the equipment (194KB) 18. Greetings to our main food sponsor (251KB) 19. There goes everything (246KB) 20. My 1st arctic toilet (137KB) 21. Scenery across the ... valley (472KB) 22. Evening trip (215KB) 23. Evening trip (410KB) 24. Our base camp (369KB) 25. Leisure life (304KB) 26. A bird!! (278KB) 27. Good night Gunnbjorn Fjeld. See you soon (196KB)

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