West Greenland 2022 - under the spell of the midnight sun (and the fog)

The ice cap of Greenland is a unique and as we know now fragile landscape. I always tried to cover the ice sheet in as many as possible ways. Icebergs in the fjords, moraines, outlet glacier flowing down into the sea and so on.

This trip was meant to be a little expedition into the unknown. The ice cap is quite difficult to access. This has not changed much since the explorers like Alfred Wegener started to explore it. Then it was very hard, very expensive and time consuming. Nowadays it is either expensive (helicopter charter....) or time consuming, but by far not as difficult as it was 80 to 100 years ago. There is only one place in Greenland, where access is quite easy, thats by road from Kangerlussuaq.

If you want to go to other places, you are on your own, at least for overnight trips.

To be on the safe side to reach the ice cap and to be able to have enough time for photography, we booked into a guided overnight tour with a night in a tent on the ice cap. I did this tour already some years ago and was quite happy with it and the resulting pictures.

Most of the time however we wanted to stay around two locations in the Uummannaq Fjord System, my favourite area on Greenland. The first camp should allow us to access the ice sheet with permanent lakes right at the moraines. The second was located on the Nussuaq Peninsula, a wild mountain chain with steep valleys and mountains topped by glaciers.

The final itinery looked like that: First the guided icecap trip from Kangerlussuaq, next just an overnight stay in Ilulissat, from here to Uummannaq for the next 9 days (4 days ice cap and 4 days Nuussuaq). 2 nights in Ilulissat on the way back, just in case we would have problems with our flight, and back to Copenhagen.

I teamed up with Walter for this trip, an experienced photographer, climber and mountaineer from Switzerland.

In the end, not much of this plan worked as once intended...... Weather, the ice situation and the vast greenlandic wilderness forced us to change plans more than once! It was meant to be a little expedition into the unknown and we got many fascinating moments like humpback whales fishing right next to our camping spot, but also many things, which we could not achieve.

As I always say, there must be reasons to come back!

The Ice Cap near Kangerlussuaq

My expectation was quite high, as my first trip was very memorable an very rewarding, Walters expectations had been more muted.

As I said this is a commercial guided trip by a local travel agency and everybody can book into it. It is marketed as and "experience", as many similar trips are marketed by now. I was very disappointed when we where picked up. Our quite large and very mixed group was crammed into a big bus, with many day trippers to the ice sheet. I took hours until we finally arrived at the end of the 4x4 road close to the ice.

The next disappointment followed very quickly. Years ago the camp was far away from the moraine, I think it was about 1 hour walking. This year, the camp was right next to the moraine, much easier for the participants, but the ice was mostly black. The rapid melting of the ice resulted in a layer of brown mud on the ice, the closer to the moraine the thicker. Not very photogenic and not what I intended to take pictures of. But it was quite shocking as well, as so much ice was lost during the last years!

But the group was nice. Lots of participants have not been the typical outdoor people. They did not have any experience nor was their level of fitness especially high. Some even expected a glamping experience (the website was very clear that this was an Adventure Experience no glamping at all).

But as the group moved very slow, it was very good for our photography. I even think that most have been very grateful that we slowed down the pace......

My goal was to cover the drainage network and the lakes of the ice cap and after the first disappointment I started to accept the muddy layer as (shocking, but not photogenic) part of the ice. During the long walk the next day we also managed to hike to cleaner parts of the ice much further away from the moraine.

We crossed many creeks, visited some lakes and all was good. As it was high season and our group was large, the agency could not cram us for the way back to Kangerlussuaq into the normal bus with all the day trippers. But we had to take another (also crammed) bus much later. This was a big advantage, as we could stay much longer on the ice, could walk much further and so on.

In the end it was a very successful photo excursion. The weather was neither good nor bad. Most of the time it was cloudy or foggy. Again not what I hoped for, but colors of the ice are much better when the sky is overcast. There are always two sides of a coin.

Another goal was the midnight sun over the ice. As the camp was so close to the moraine, this was nearly impossible and as it was cloudy during the first hours of "the night", this goal seemed to be even more unlikely.

Walter wanted to stay outside, but I crawled into our tent, just to be woken up a few minutes later by the sun. We stayed another hour outside until the clouds hid the sun again. Very memorable, even with the muddy ice.

The next morning we woke up with fog around the campsite, which took some hours to vanish. Time for a good and relaxed breakfast.

We arrived very late at Kangerlussuaq, just before the closing of the only open restaurant (in the airport...). The airport canteen is a very special place, as nearly all air traffic in Greenland goes through Kangerlussuaq and nearly everybody will visit the canteen. It is a very colorful crowd....

It was the ending of two very exciting days. As our flight was very early next morning, we had to pack up everything, it was not a relaxing evening..... Next destination was Ilulissat, a place Walter and I know very well from previous journeys. It was a "must stay", as there is no flight connection from Kangerlussuaq to Uummannaq. All the same we took an early flight, to have plenty time to visit the Kangia icefjord and the new UNESCO world heritage center.

Before we move on some more pics of the ice cap.....

Ilulissat and the Kangia Icefjord - stay 1

Early morning, we carried our bags to the airport, checked in and returned to our hotel for breakfast. After returning to the airport we checked the display of incoming/outgoing flights and realized, that nothing was in time. Some flights have been canceled, some showed "next information at....". Our flight was not yet cancelled, but belonged to the category "next information at". The canteen filled up quickly with passengers stranded here or waiting for their flight. Most parts of the west coast suffered from severe fog and all domestic airplanes need visibility to land on the airstrips.

But we have been lucky, our flight was rescheduled and we left Kangerlussuaq around 2 PM. But we still needed to land in Ilulissat. More than once I circled above Ilulissat and returned after failed landing attempts. But it always happened in winter not in summer.

We had our first try and the approach was aborted, to much fog, we tried from the other direction a second time and this time it worked. We arrived finally in Ilulissat, the most visited place in Greenland! When I booked the trip it was very difficult to get a room and we expected lots of people at the Icefjord, which we wanted to visit after checking in at the hotel.

The weather was poor, cloudy and dark. As I have already lots of pictures it was not so exciting. But watching the ice in the Kangia Fjord is always a very special and awesome experience, regardless of photography. I had to take pictures of the new UNESCO world heritage center, but decided to postpone it. We had nearly two full days on the way back. This should be more than enough and the weather right now was to poor for marketable material!

Strange enough we had been nearly alone at the icefjord, I still do not know where all the guests of the hotels have been during late afternoon and early evening. However I do know, that most restaurants suffered from labour shortage, some had been closed, some changed their opening hours. Therefore all the tourists cannot be in town either, maybe in their hotels?!

It was really difficult to find an open restaurant, where tourists did not cue for a table. We finally found a table in one of my favorite places, a chinese take away.

Our flight to Uummannaq was again very early in the morning, check in time 07:00. Again no relaxing morning, but the weather forecast was not to bad for flying....

The Heidi Incident - or the "longest" flight of my life!

We checked in for the flight to Uummannaq and the lady at the counter already said, that the flight will be probably cancelled, but they will try. The flight was shown as "next information at....". But it was canceled, in a way....

Uummannaq is not served daily by Air Greenland, a cancellation could distroy all our plans. But not without irony, as Walter is Swiss, Heidi appeared on the scene to rescue our plans, in a way.....

Heidi is a boat, a very slow boat and the way to Uummannaq is far. Air Greenland decided not to try any flight later that day but to use boats for all pax and we have been assigned to Heidi. We even got a flight number and had been informed by mail and text message, that our flight is leaving from the harbour at 11:00.  A transport to the harbour had to be arranged, we had to organize our luggage and we ended on bord of Heidi for the next 17,5 hours! Arrival time between 4am and 5am.

Heidi had some bunk beds we could use to get some sleep. But it was a long trip and with very little food. Air Greenland supplied only some sandwiches and Heidi did not have any food facilities for passengers. Not a good service at all! At least there was tea and coffee and the crew offered some of their food, which we happily accepted.

But it was not all bad. As Heidi was slow we could take pictures whenever we wanted. The deck was open all times and we also could visit the bridge. After entering the channel between Disko Island and Arve Prinsens Island and later Nuusuaq Peninsula the landscape was interesting, sometimes dramatic.

In a way we suddenly made a cruise through the fjords of Greenland. Lots of icebergs and fulmars accompanied us and it was an interesting trip through a part Greenland where I have never been. We got a glimps of Qullissat, a ghost town. Qullissat was founded as a coal mining town and was once one of the biggest settlements in Greenland. It was completely abandoned in 1972, but there are new exploration activities in this area. The "main street" was scattered with huge blue containers, but I have no idea what kind of exploration will happen there and nobody in Uummannaq did know any details either.

We had a good time watching the landscape, the fulmars and the icebergs, backed up our files, and devoured some of the Air Greenland sandwiches, which very quickly lost their appeal! We retired to the bunk beds only after we reached the open waters of Baffin Bay, which was covered in fog, the very fog which cancelled our flight, for a very short sleep.

Before leaving Ilulissat I informed Paaluk, our skipper, and the accommodation, that we will be late, very late. But Winnie from Cafemma agreed to pick us up in the early morning from the harbour. Our boat transfer to the first camp was scheduled at about 2 PM. Not much time to buy food, gas and get some sleep. But we did not want to postpone anything.....

Camp 1

From maps and satellite images we spotted three possible campsites in our bay. The mouths of two valleys cutting into a low ridge separating the bay from the ice cap. The third one was on the other side of the bay, again at the mouth of a much bigger valley with lots of lakes. This valley was also leading up to the ice sheet, but the distance was much much longer. This area is completely uncharted, not trails, no guidebooks or blogs, nothing.

After a short sleep, we bought food and gas for the camps, packed everything and had a quick lunch. Paaluk picked us up and we started to sail to our camp 1.

The boat ride to the bay was first foggy, but it cleared pretty quickly. We passed again huge icebergs, a small village called Saatut and kept on sailing towards east to the icecap and the huge outlet glaciers, which produced all the icebergs around us.

We finally arrived in our bay  and we started to check out the valleys, where we planned to camp. The two valleys close to the ice turned out to be mighty gorges, at least difficult, maybe impossible to use as a way up. But more important they seemed to be dry, no water running.... In hindsight we should have looked closer, whether there really was no water. But in this area everything was dry, very dry and only a trickle of warm water would not have been safe for drinking anyway.....

Moreover the third campsite looked promising, a little river was close and flat areas for pitching the tent seemed to be no problem at all.

We went ashore on a rocky shore, the equipment was unloaded and we had been on our own. The view was beautiful! Deep blue water, icebergs, ridges and mountains in the background!

We found a really nice spot for the tent on a glacial polish and realized that we are not on our own. Very aggressive mosquitoes shared this spot with us, millions of them. We had headnets and repellent, but we let more than one drop of blood there.

Next was getting drinking water. The river was just 100m away, but access proved to be difficult and longer than hoped. The mouth of the river ended in a little gorge with vertical rock faces. We had to hike uphill until we found a spot, where we could climb down. It was true climbing, about grade two (alpine rating). It is not yet really difficult but doing this with a teapot full of water in one hand and a cooking pot full of water in the other changes a lot.

But we had water and it became our daily chore....

Everything was dry as a bone, it was freighteningly hot, beyond 20 C, and it was beautiful, only the mosquitoes had been the huge thorn on the rose!

For the next day we planned the excursion into the long valley and to try to reach the ridge to cover the ice sheet and the glacier tumbling down into the fjord! We went to bed early, still tired from the Heidi episode, but to fall asleep was difficult. It was to warm and we had full daylight. Half asleep I listened to the waves and heard the typical breathing sounds of whales. A bit later I was outside and I heard them again, found them in the bay and watched them for a while fishing for small fish.

I am not a big fan of whale watching tours as an photo opportunity, most of the time you see only fins..... But this time it was different. The two humpback whales came again and again for the next two days, until they decided, that there are better waters somewhere else. Quite often they circled the whole bay and passed our campsite not more the 3-5 m from the shore. It was amazing.....

Our trip into the long valley was much harder than we hoped for and we did not come close to the ridge. It was just to difficult and time consuming. The valley with its chain of lakes looked easy to hike on the satellite images, but that was just a wrong interpretation. All lakes had their shores right on the steep sides of the valley and the valley sides very often covered with huge bolders. It was more climbing than hiking, sometimes vertical cliffs bordered the lakes and we had to cross to the other side and so on.

It was interesting, exhausting, but disappointing. After scrambling through another big bolder area, we decided to turn and call it a day. We both knew, that this was not a way up and that our photographic goal was nearly impossible to achieve.

The way back was nearly as time consuming as the way up, as crossing the difficult parts just takes the same time and we arrived after a tricky river crossing back at our tent, quite knackered, I must admit!

During the night the wind picked up, warm wind from the glacier and the ice cap! It is hard to explain why wind flowing down the ice cap is 20 C...... I expected cold catabatic winds, but in a way it must have been a dry adiabatic wind, which is warming as an air mass about 1 C per 100 m. I must check this out.

The wind speed increased and increased, we both think that the gales had been between 50-60km/h and finally one of the guy lines gave in and detached itself form the bolder it was tied to. The poles where pushed in and Walter supported them with his hands. I went out, tied the line again and carried our packs to support all the lines upwind. When we packed up the tent two days later I realized, that this pole was bent, I mean the tent and the poles are expedition grade, it must have been a very hard gale.

The wind blowed all the night and sleeping was difficult, again..... In the morning the wind dropped and we finally had a good sleep.....

For the next two days we stayed on our side of the bay, crossing to the other shore was impossible. Again vertical rock faces made it impossible. From time to time the wind started to rise, to strong to be outside. But we had a good time with our whales, the landscape and the icebergs in the bay.

If you stay out for several days you will see and hear how icebergs turn, crack, dissolve and sail from one end of the bay to the open waters of the fjord.

But the highlight have been the humpback whales.....

One of the big surprises have been the flowers. I did not expect to find some of them. It was not the number of species, I guess it was about 3-4 flowering species on our shore, but they formed dense carpets. Lovely in such an environment!

Paaluk wanted to pick us up late morning and we had the best weather you can imagine. No wind, blue sky. perfect to move camp to Nuussuaq Peninsula and we really had been looking forward to changing the location. The next camp was about 2 hours sailing through fjords with vertical cliffs and blue icebergs. Paaluk was in time, we stored the equipment and had to leave a wonderful place, but also left an unfinished task! I had some mixed emotions about the last days......

Sailing to camp 2

Before we took course to the intended next location Paaluk showed us what we have missed by not reaching the ridge, where we could look down to the ice cap and the glacier.

It was the most interesting outlet glacier I have seen so far in Greenland. Really awesome. There was a campsite at the end of the lateral moraine, but again without water. If I would start again, I would buy 20-30l of water or fill a canister from the tap and look for a campsite without the need for water. The other option was melting water from a stranded iceberg, but there is no guarantee that you find one. This is a dry spot, after the snow has melted!

Seeing the glacier the mixed feelings about the last days popped up again in my mind, but lets look ahead!

The sailing was beautiful, it could not have been better. The Uummannaq Fjord System is an awesome place, but whatever you do, you need a boat! Just flying to Uummannaq is not enough! This makes this area little travelled but as a solo traveller very expensive! You need somebody to share the cost of the boat charter!

After passing the little settlement of Ikerasak we only had to cross a last fjord before arriving at our destination, when the ice on the fjord got dense, very dense. We even saw both options to camp. Nuussuaq is a traditional hunting ground and unmarked paths start in the valleys and lead up to the high plains. It is much better charted territory! The landscape is different, as the peninsula has its own ice sheet covering the peaks higher than 2000. these peaks are true mountaineering expeditions. We "just" wanted to explore the valleys and the plains or try a lower peak.

Paaluk tried hard to find a way through the maze of melting sea ice and icebergs, but finally we came to the conclusion, that it does not make any sense. Even if we made it to the other shore, the ice could stay for days (or vanish...) and plug the access to our camp during the next days. We did not want to be marooned....

Good bye camp 2.... We needed a plan.

Paaluk proposed to stay on this side of the fjord and camp in a bay of the Drygalsky peninsula where he was sure that we will find fresh water. We only had a map 1:500.000 and no satellite images. But we had no choice anyway. We turned around and headed to the bay. This trip was really a little expedition.

This day the bay was awesome, something very special with a magic atmosphere. We found water, there was even a lake, which we spotted only the day after.

Camp 2

We decided to camp on a flat place in an area without much vegetation, hoping for less mosquitoes, and we had lots of rocks for the guy lines. I thought for a moment, that it might be a windy spot, but guessed that this area was nearly bare of vegetation due to winter storms and blowing ice crystals. And we really had much less mosquitoes compared to camp 1, but it was a windy place also in summer. Local winds can be tricky.

But for the moment we just had fun down at the beach with the stranded icebergs!

After shooting the icebergs a plan was made for the following day. There was no sign of a change of the weather. The next morning we wanted to stay in the vicinity of the tent and early afternoon head to the high plains by following the creek, which gave us our water. All we had was the map 1:500.000...... It was a little expedition!

The next morning was as good as the day before, a perfect beginning. We enjoyed a silent, windless night, had a late breakfast and started to explore the coast facing Ikerasak. It was good photography and a great location. Ikerasak mountain was the dominating landmark, the high mountains of the Nuussuaq peninsula formed the background. A great start for a long day!

It was very hot again, same situation as in camp 1, but less mosquitoes, still sometimes bad, but not as fierce as the days before. The icebergs in the bay melted down quickly.....

The destination for the afternoon and early night (do not forget we had 24hours daylight) was to reach the ridge southeast of our camp. The view from above should give us a tremendous view towards Store glacier and Nuussuaq. We wanted to follow the valley of our creek which should lead us up to a lake. That was the plan and the content of the map. We did not have more information, no altitude information, no distances and hardly any contour lines.

The first surprise followed very soon as the narrow valley of the creek was full of snow and we had to climb on one of the sides up the steep slope through rugged terrain, but we had good views towards the bay, the camp and Ikerasak. In Greenland all distances look much closer than they are in reality.... Later the valley opened up and we found a nice lake to which we had to descend. After the lake we entered a gorge and after a while decided not to follow it any longer as there had been signs of loose rocks falling down into the canyon. Finally we reached a kind of a plateau with the big lake, which was in the map.

Unfortunately it was not only one lake but several with lots of ups and downs in between. Everything is bigger in Greenland..... It took a long hour and the ups and downs drained a lot of energy, but in the end we hit the target! It was a perfect spot, ok nearly perfect, as we shared the view with thousands of mosquitoes. Somehow we found the right little peak with no appropriate map or satellite image.

It was one of the views where the picture does not convey the atmosphere properly and not at all the emotions. We had lots of fun up there, had our dinner, took to many pictures and where driven away only by the aggressive mosquitoes. This hike and the view was just perfect.

But eventually we had to leave and to start the long way back. Finding a direct line through the lakes was impossible, it was again up and down and up and down until we managed to find the access to the gorge. But again great views towards west.

We both have been tired from the long day and the impressions, when we descended to sea level close to midnight.

After a last midnight shoot at the little icebergs we finally called it a day. Both very happy and really tired. We decided to sleep as long as possible this morning (which is hard, as the sun is bright and heats the tent)...... What a day!

But the next day turned out to be very different. Before we went into the tent we discussed the weather and both thought it might change, but we have not been sure, as the local weather made any assumption based on our experience very difficult. When we woke up, it was all cloudy, murky, and some drizzle was in the air. The wind picked up, again the warm wind form the east. This time our camp was far away from the ice cap, but the wind was the same.

We explored the other side of the bay, but just noted down photo spots, as whatever picture we would make today, it would be much much worse compared to what we already had. The walk was longer than expected, it is really hard to judge distances..... We returned to the camp just in time before a light storm pinned us down in the tent. The wind swirled up the very fine silt of the area, which even penetrated the zipped up zippers of the inner tent. Not very nice......

Late in the afternoon the wind stopped, but the weather stayed poor, no reason to venture far from the tent. We watched some local seal hunters patrolling the bay. A not very exciting day.

The next day the weather has improved, but "die Luft war raus". We have been tired from the previous days and we lacked the motivation to do some long hikes, either up to one of the hills or to the outer bay in the south.

Therefore we returned to the lake on the other side of our bay and climbed up the creek to get some more views towards Ikerasak. But we ended in a bed of flowers! This was a new photo opportunity and quite different from what we had already from this area.

This flower is called Niviarsiaq and the national flower of Greenland, what a nice ending of our little photo expedition. In a way we celebrated Greenland a bit, in other languages this pretty flower is called Arktisches Weidenröschen, dwarf fireweed, epilobium latifolium.

It was sunny, nearly no mosquitoes, the creek murmered, we had a good time amidst Niviarsiaq........

The afternoon did not see much action but a last highlight of our last day in the backcountry. Tomorrow late morning Paaluk should pick us up to bring us back to Uummannaq.

But strolling around the shore to look for the ever changing icebergs, I discovered an Arctic Fox, the first we have seen during out trip. It was a short encounter, but enough to take some nice pictures.

We started to pack a bit, had our last dinner and realized, that the clouds started to look dangerous again. Close to midnight it started to blow, harder than ever. If it keeps on blowing like that, picking up would be difficult. Strong onshore wind with gales up to 60 km/h and lots of little icebergs around. Lets hope that the winds will ease until noon next day.

The winds did not calm down. Striking the tent was already a challenge, but at least the bent pole was strong enough to survive the winds.... We carried the equipment down to the shore and now we waited. Paaluk arrived but keeping the boat in the right position between moving icebergs and strong gales hitting the boat was tricky. With one landline and with one anchor down he managed to get the boat close enough to the rocky shore from time to time to load the equipment, always using the engine to correct the position when a gale was hitting the boat. We loaded as quick as possible trying to avoid to fall into the water and avoiding to slip on the exposed seaweed (low tide....). Finally all was loaded.

I removed the landline had two attempts to climb on board, retrieved the anchor while Paaluk kept the boat from the rocky shore and off we went!

It was a little expedition.

Wind is a strange thing. We left the inner bay and had in the outer bay and around Ikerasak no wind at all. But further out and around Uummannaq it blowed hard again! In Uummannaq we could not use the jetty as it was to exposed, but on the sheltered side was a safe place. Using the vertical ladder of the commercial pier we finally arrived in Uummannaq.

Our days in Uummannaq

We only had one afternoon and one morning in my favorite town in Greenland. After so many days we first needed a shower, changed clothing and I showed Walter the town. It was a good change after so many days dedicated to landscape photography! We strolled around, mixed with the locals in the cafe and had lots of fun! The next morning the weather forecast was not bad, but the clouds over Nuussuaq predicted trouble, stormy trouble......

Check in was about noon. Flights to Uummannaq are now more and more direct flights with a brand new hightec airbus helicopter. It is quick enough to cover the distance to Ilulissat in under 1 hour, if this technical marvel can fly or if Air Greenland let it fly. Our alpine SAR helicopters fly (nearly) always. This helicopter flies somtimes, I guess there are many good reasons not to fly and I do not want to be part of a helicopter crash. However to fly only when the pilot can see the ground is a bit strange and looks out of place in an area like this. Everything is known, the maximum altitude of the peaks is 2100m, not a challenge for this machine, but for whatever reason they do not fly by instruments only.

Our flight was postponed to the late afternoon and later cancelled. Another day in Uummannaq! Next day next try to fly out. As we had a day for backup in Ilulissat, it still was not a real problem, but if this flight is cancelled again, all our flights to Europe will fly without us. Air Greenland took care of us and organized another self catering accommodation for the night. We had been the only tourists on this flight and as far as we could see on the whole island.

We had to be patient like the lazy sled dogs during summer. The afternoon was quite nice and a bit sunny and again we explored Uummannaq.

The next morning was calm and foggy, a strange atmosphere after the very windy days. The fog drifted in from the Baffin Bay and the whole western coast suffered from it. Check in was again at noon, and the same motely crew met in the small building of the helipad.

The flight was postponed to the afternoon. By now Walter knew Uummannaq already quite well, especially the streets between the harbour and the helipad..... We killed the time in the cafe and taking pictures of the gloomy atmosphere.

We headed back to the helipad. The pilot decided to fly, first he will try to find a gap in the clouds either over the ice cap or in one of the valleys in Nuusuuaq (one of our possible camping spots, irony.....). If this does not work, he will return, refuel and try to fly around Nuussuaq into Baffin Bay and following the route of our ship Heidi to Ilulissat.

It was a great helicopter flight, at least we saw what we have missed in camp 1 as the pilot tried to fly over the ice sheet. But no gap in the clouds. Then we saw what we have missed in the original camp 2 when he tried the valley through Nuussuaq. Eventually he gave up and we returned to Uummannaq. We still hoped for a second chance. If we cannot get to Ilulissat today, all flights to Europe..... you know what I mean.

The second try was cancelled by the Air Greenland HQ. Stuck again in Uummannaq. HQ decided to try again not next day, but the day after tomorrow, for whatever reason?!

We returned to another self catering place, again with a Dane, who was living for many years in Ilulissat. He told some interesting stories...

In Cafemma I had wlan and checked the flights to Europe through Air Greenlands online site, next seats available had been in about 10 days. This did not sound nice. As nobody knew when the foggy weather will be over I decided not to book anything. As it was weekend Air Greenlands help desk did not work (!). If Air Greenland wants to support tourism and locals they must have a helpdesk during weekends, this is really ridiculous.

Next morning (Sunday) I got a phone call from Air Greenland. As it seems the weather on the west coast was very poor all over the region. They wanted to know, whether I knew that our flights from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq (the one we could not get, as we are still in Uummannaq), was cancelled. The lady was really happy when she learned that we are still in Uummannaq and that we did not need another try to fly or a hotel for the night anyway. I told her our new flight number and she promised to take care of a new flight connecting to our next try to fly out from Uummannaq.

20 min later I got a text message and an email that we have a flight for the the day after tomorrow from Ilulissat to Aasiat to Kangerlussuq and Copenhagen. Sometimes things work. We still did not have any hotel in Ilulissat or Copenhagen, but again, I did not try as nobody knew, when we can fly out, if the weather on the west coast stays like this.

But things looked brighter now, including the weather, as we had sunny spots.

We had a lovely Sunday and when the sky cleared around midnight we got back our midnight sun and could not stop making pictures. The lifting fog, the low warm light, very nice. Finally we had again a short night, as next morning was the next try to fly out. This was routine by now.....

The morning was ok weatherwise in Uummannaq, but Ilulissat looked not very promising.... Our by now well known group met at the helipad. We have green light to fly out from Uummannaq, but Ilulissat is closing down. They will try to open the airport during late afternoon, no flight possible right now. We got another flight scheduled at 7 PM.

This time we really killed time, but we still had some hopes for today, as at least here in Uummannaq all looked good. At about 4 PM I got a text message, we should come at once to the helipad, the airport in Ilulissat is opening.

Back to the helipad, we greeted the same people, and I never boarded as quickly as this time. Everybody wanted to fly out, the locals and we the tourists. This time it worked, the pilot tried to follow a valley through the mountains, no clouds and we finally saw the mountain passes connecting the villages on both shores of the peninsula. The lakes have been still frozen, very strange after the dry and hot days near the ice cap!

We made it to Ilulissat and I shot the last picture of this trip. I think you can see how relieved the group was after the landing. However we did not have any room in Ilulissat and no room in Copenhagen. Moreover the groundstaff of Lufthansa decided to go on strike. At least one more day in Copenhagen for me, Walter was not affected as he flew Swiss.

We had no room during high season in Ilulissat, the airport is far from town and we had been the only flight. Air Greenland refused quite rude, to support us regarding accomodation. It does not matter that Air Greenland could not fly us out in time, it is our problem. Very poor problem handling, very poor service, especially as I called Air Greenland this morning and told them about our room problem. They promised that the ground staff could help and I know that they Air Greenland has an affiliated hotel in town.

Anyway, we had been the only souls in the airport. I called the hotel I booked the rooms where we could not show up (I always informed all hotels about our situation) and by mere luck they had one room left, a very small room, but a room!

All was good. We found a place to eat and went back to the hotel. Next morning the next flights, weather permitting.

Weather did not permit in the morning! Kangerlussuaq was closed due to havy rain! Our flight to Aasiat and further to Kangerlussuaq was shown as cancelled on the display. We looked not very happy when another pax sitting next to me explained what the lady told everybody in danish and greenlandic but not in english. The flight to Aasiat was cancelled, but they try to fly directly to Kangerlussuaq a bit later with the same plane. Hope again.

We could fly and we could land. It was heavy rain in Kangerlussuaq, which just eased a bit. Nearly all flights have been canceled so far, the airport was crowded. But the intercontinental flight was in time and we finally flew from Greenland to Europe.

It was a little expedition til the end!

This was in many ways a memorable trip. We have seen many unexpected things, but left also many loose ends in Greenland. We had lots of little adventures and nearly everything did not  work according to the first plan. Walter coined a phrase during the trip.

Iliussat is for beginners....

What is next? In a bit more than two weeks it will be Greenland again, my first photo workshop since Covid started. It will be East Greenland and there are no helicopter flights involved, this makes me very happy right now. After Greenland we will drive through the West Fjords of Iceland, a great trip

Finally many thanks to Paaluk, who was as reliable as ever and of course to Walter, who was a perfect companion for this trip with so many twists in plans and situations!

The final word in german, next workshops

Wir haben das Angebot an Fotoreisen überarbeitet. Neue Ziele sind im Programm, einige andere in Vorbereitung.

Außerdem ist der neue Katalog endlich zum download verfügbar!

Auch Spitzbergen ist jetzt als Fotoreise verfügbar, entweder alleine oder in Kombination mit einer Reise nach Senja. Wer ein interessantes Winterziel sucht ist hier sicher richtig.



Unsere Fotoreisen und Foto-Workshops, ein Klick auf die Reise bringt Sie zu einer Beschreibung der Reise

Thats it for the moment! Stay tuned and healthy!

Szentendre, August 2022