Seven Peaks – Seven Islands part II – Greenland

Taxiing-on-the-Ice-Runway

Here’s the second miniblog about my Seven peaks – Seven Islands challenge…

Climbing in Greenland is an honour that few have experienced.  The flight from Iceland over the Denmark Strait is enough of an eye opener, particularly as you approach the teeth like mountains of the coast, but the Watkins Mountains are a magnificent range of ice-capped peaks.

Named by the Vikings “Hvitserk” or “White Shirt”, Gunnbjørns Fjeld stands not only as Greenland’s, but also as the Arctic’s highest mountain.  Its 3694m (12,119ft) summit is not technically difficult to reach, but a good degree of ski mountaineering skill is still required.  From the glacier base camp, the ascent usually takes two days, with an overnight high camp.  Here’s where the hard work starts as pulling a heavily laden pulk uphill will really test your shoulders..!  Views from the summit seem endless, with range after range of unclimbed peaks surrounding you, the ice cap to the north and (usually) not a soul in sight.  Then you get the fun bit – a fantastic ski back to high camp and all the way down to the glacier.  This is powder heaven!

You can make attempts on the 2nd and 3rd highest peaks in Greenland – Qaqqaq Kershaw (3683m – 12083ft) and Qaqqaq Johnson (3669m – 12037ft) as they are in the next valley.  Huge hanging seracs guard the entrance, and occasional avalanches let go, but this is a polar region and its beauty should never shield its dangers.  There is also time for a few 1st ascents in the range before the ski plane taxis in for that wonderful flight back over the coastal mountains and south to Iceland.

Click here to read my full expedition report…

Want to try the challenge yourself..?  Click here to find out more…

Next time i’ll cross the world to Asia and climb the tallest peak in Japan…

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