We often get asked ‘did you see any polar bears?’. The answer is no. What we have seen though are musk ox. These beautiful large creatures that roam the meadows in Greenland. Mr and Mrs musk ox were especially cute.
Thank you to the Schwörer family for letting us join the @toptotopexpedition. Here is an album of fun photos showing life with 12 people on a 15.15m (50ft) boat. It was a blast ⛵️😀 Top to Top are presently sailing to the Netherlands, from where they plan to cycle to Switzerland. You can keep following their exploits via @toptotopexpedition
We met up with the Top To Top boat in Ittoqqortoormiit and because of the impending weather, we set sail immediately for Iceland. We sailed directly east to begin with, to get beyond the ice in the East Greenland current as soon as possible, and then turned south. Whilst carrying out our watches, it gave us time to reflect on what we had seen and what might have been. Finding shadows and shelters is not uncommon in cave exploration. It was a fantastic experience nonetheless, and now we have an answer!
As our time drew to an end on the Wagener Halvø peninsula, we often sat and looked out across this beautiful fjord at the iceberg. Occasionally we thought we could spot a seal or two sunning themselves on the ice. Because we were meeting back up with the boat, and the weather forecast suggested that we should head south sooner rather than later, we were not able to extend our stay much longer on the peninsula. We had planned to visit another potential cave site, but this would have needed a three-day fly camp, which we no longer had time for. We were, however, confident by now that this peninsula is unlikely to contain the sorts of caves that we were seeking. #EAGRE18
A new day a new dawn. Today we headed south to our next target, which looked more promising on the photographs than the ones the day before. We hiked across snow fields on steep ground and finally reached the bottom of the cliff at 6:30pm after a long day. We were faced with a steep and loose scree slope and a final climb to the cave, which Chris made an attempt on whilst I flew the drone. Whilst these were definitely more cave-like than those from yesterday, they turned out to be large shelters without any sedimentary deposits. Another tiring and disappointing day. #EAGRE18
On the 10th August, over two weeks after leaving home, we finally set out in search of our first caves. A number of potential cave sites (including photographs) had been given to us by a geologist, though their specific locations were unknown (no coordinates). Our first targets were north on the peninsula from our base camp. We established a route on our topographic maps that enabled us to slowly gain height towards the cave, which we knew to be high above the fjord. For most of the day, we found ourselves following musk ox tracks in the snow. Seen here we were close to our target and after several hours of walking we traversed the ledge towards the cave, a deep snow-filled gully prevented us from making the final steps. Luckily we had the drone with us and this revealed that the cave was only a shallow alcove. Disappointment all around, but this is not uncommon in cave exploration. #EAGRE18
After setting up base camp we went for a walk to check out our new surroundings. Gina brought along some vials so that she could collect samples of water, ice and snow for chemical analysis. Here she is collecting samples from a snow bank where she can easily access different depths within the snow. #EAGRE18
5am on the first morning on Wegener Halvø peninsula as sea fog rolls in over Nathorst Fjord. We continued our watches on land in 2.5 hour shifts, mostly observing musk ox’s, though looking out for bigger furry white creatures too. It was a great opportunity for me to take photographs though my partners were less enthusiastic at being awake in the middle of the night. Chris is seen here starting his watch, wandering off towards the cook/food tent to see what may be approaching in the midst. #EAGRE18