Greenland 2017: Part VI: Tasermiut & Cape Farewell

After the group from our last land expedition flew out again, I hopped back on board the sailing yacht, which had in the meantime navigated towards the Southern Fringes of Greenland. September was a magnificent final to a long summer: golden autumn colours, fresh snow, multiple active aurora shows, and some of Greenland’s finest scenery in the coastal labyrith of fjords, mountains and sea straits near Cape Farewell. Enjoy!

Greenland Part V: Trekking in South Greenland

In mid-august I flew south to Narsarsuaq. After a short 3-day solo, a new strong group of hiker friends arrived for a series of 3 treks in the wildest accessible areas in South Greenland: first a 3-day hike on between massive glaciers on Mellemlandet, then a 4-day hike with often bad weather near Igaliku, and finally a long and difficult 9-day trek through some of South Greenland’s wildest valleys near Tasermiut fjord, with many kilometers of serious bushwhacking and difficult boulderfields. This last trip was blessed with incredible weather. I knew the area from my long Greenland adventure in 2013 – and still find it one of the most varied an wild places I have ever hiked.

Greenland 2017: Part IV: From the Ice Sheet to Eternity Fjord

In late july, I disembarked from our sailing yacht and flew south from Ilulissat to Kangerlussuaq to pick up a group of friends for the first long multi-day treks of my summer season – partly based on my own Greenland adventure in 2016. We first spent a few days at the fringes of the massive ice sheet, and then started a wonderful 8-day trek from Robinson River all the way to the tip of Eternity Fjord, roaming through Greenland’s largest muskoxen herds along the way.

I carried a 2-person packraft so we could cross liquid barriers such as large meltwater rivers and lakes along the way – allowing a unique trajectory which would otherwise have been impossible, without everybody having to carry his own raft (and 4kg of extra gear). The entire trip was blessed with incredible weather: almost no clouds and temperatures of 20-25 degrees every single day.

All pictures ©Willem Vandoorne, unless stated otherwise.

Picture copyright Sofia Matousek

Picture copyright Sofia Matousek

Picture copyright Gabriel Gersch

Picture copyright Sofia Matousek

Picture copyright Sofia Matousek

Picture copyright Sofia Matousek

Picture copyright Gabriel Gersch

Picture copyright Gabriel Gersch

Greenland 2017: Part III: Ilulissat & the Uummannaq fjords

When the sea ice had sufficiently melted by early july, we sailed further north from Ilulissat, rounding the cape of the colorful Nussuaq peninsula into the vast Uummannaq fjord system. This was the part of the trip I looked forward to most prior to the journey – a true arctic nirvana of iceberg-dotted fjords teeming with humpback whales, jagged alpine mountains rising vertically from the sea, and extremely remote Inuit settlements like Niaqornat. Stable weather and midnight sun make this area even more worth the visit – although this is also the point where the polar bear risk starts to increase. We spent about two weeks in this area, making dayhikes and two overnight trips. The town of Uummannaq was our base camp – located at the base of an incredibly scenic mountain.

All pictures ©Willem Vandoorne, unless stated otherwise.

Image Copyright Peter Vancoillie

Image Copyright Peter Vancoillie

Image Copyright Karel Sabbe

Image Copyright Karel Sabbe

Image Copyright Karel Sabbe

Image Copyright Karel Sabbe

Greenland 2017: Part II: Disko Island

Last year I spent my first full summer season guiding in Greenland. Together with Sofie Vanmaele, I chartered a 90ft sailing vessel, which sailed across the Atlantic in may. From the early june until late september, we explored the entire West Coast from Cape Farewell all the way up to the fjords near Uummanaaq – a stretch of coastline of approximately 1500km. 9 groups of friends and family came over to join us while hiking and packrafting through some of the most sensational backcountry on earth – the yacht offered a luxurious base camp and allowed us to visit places which are virtually inaccessible by any other means of transport. It was a fantastic opportunity to finally show them around in those remote areas I love and admire so deeply, without leaving real traces behind.

In late june, we sailed north from Sisimiut towards Ilulissat, chasing the disappearing winter ice. The trip focussed on the southern half of Disko Island, where we made several day hikes and 2 overnight trips. Whilst Greenland is largely made up of very old plutonic and metamorphic rocks, Disko Island is a ‘young’ (approx. 50 million years) island almost completely composed of basaltic rocks related to the opening of the Davis Strait. The surrounding seas – with countless humpback whales – are dotted with massive icebergs due to the proximity of the Ilulissat Icefjord.

My mom joined on this trip! Finally I could show her around in this arctic wonderland!

All pictures ©Willem Vandoorne, unless stated otherwise.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

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Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Copyright Thomas de Boever Photography.

Greenland 2017: Part I: early summer in Eternity Fjord

It has been a very long time since I’ve been blogging here – luckily not because I’ve just been at home doing nothing 😉

Last year I spent my first full summer season guiding in Greenland. Together with Sofie Vanmaele, I chartered a 90ft sailing vessel, which sailed across the Atlantic in may. From the early june until late september, we explored the entire West Coast from Cape Farewell all the way up to the fjords near Uummanaaq – a stretch of coastline of approximately 1500km. 9 groups of friends and family came over to join us while hiking and packrafting through some of the most sensational backcountry on earth – the yacht offered a luxurious base camp and allowed us to visit places which are virtually inaccessible by any other means of transport. It was a fantastic opportunity to finally show them around in those remote areas I love and admire so deeply, without leaving real traces behind.

In the coming weeks, I will finally share some pictures from this long and intense adventure. The first series is from our first leg from Nuuk to Sisimiut in early june on the onset of summer. We spent most time in the fjordlands near Maniitsoq, notably the astounding Eternity Fjord which I had already visited during my 2016 solo expedition. Enjoy!

All pictures ©Willem Vandoorne, unless stated otherwise.

A winter week in the Vercors

I’m not the type of hiker who keeps going to the same region time after time – but rather like to explore new areas on every trip. The Vercors, a wild karstic limestone plateau in the French pre-alpine ranges with summits along the eastern rim peaking to 2000-2369m, is kind of an exception to this rule. I crossed the Vercors with a bunch of friends in winter 2007 (my first winter trek!) and returned in 2009 for my first solo winter trip. Last year, Fre joined me for a first first early summer reconnaissance of the Mont Aiguille – Grand Veymont area.

When I started making plans for a snowshoe flap with Björn, Marjolijn, Siegried, the Vercors was on our list again from the start. The huge advantage of the plateau is that one can design beautiful varied routes with only minimal avalanche danger, and there is a whole bunch of small mountain cabins where you can spend the night in adverse weather conditions. So, as our 7-day trip started to draw closer and the weather forecast looked complicated, we decided to drive to Col de Rousset, the most direct access point to the interesting southern part of the area.

It was the most varied trip I have made in the Vercors so far, with a few less classic routes. The weather shifted from spring conditions to a few windy, dull days with snow and rain, and finally to beautiful sunny weather again. We adapted our route to the conditions to get the very best out of the trip – and I have to say we were pretty successful in doing so 🙂 Enjoy!

Hiking from Col de Rousset to Cabane de Pré Peyret on the first day.

Hiking from Col de Rousset to Cabane de Pré Peyret on the first day.

First camp near Cabane de Pré Peyret

First camp near Cabane de Pré Peyret

Climbing towards the summit of Rocher de Plautret

Sunrise over the Southern French Alps from Tête du Petit Jardin

First sunrays on the Vercors Plateau, with Grand Veymont (2369m) in the centre, from the summit of Tête du Petit Jardin

Björn on Tête du Petit Jardin

Descending from Tête du Petit Jardin

Bivy on the slopes of Tête du Petit Jardin

Bivy on the slopes of Tête du Petit Jardin

Summiting Croix du Lautaret (1972m) on a windy afternoon

From Croix du Lautaret towards Tête Chevalière

Siegried on the Tête Chevalière, with the summits of the Obiou range in the back

Foul weather on the way from Cabane de Chamailloux to la Grande Cabane

Foul weather on the way from Cabane de Chamailloux to la Grande Cabane

Foul weather on the way from Cabane de Chamailloux to la Grande Cabane

Foul weather on the way from Cabane de Chamailloux to la Grande Cabane

A new style of camping at la Grande Cabane

Evening at la Grande Cabane

Breakfast at La Grande Cabane

Climbing up through La Combe Verte on the way to la Jasse du Play

Get the stove going at Cabane du Jasse du Play

Climbing towards Pas de Chattons

The western slopes of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Mont Aiguille (2087m) as seen from our bivy spot

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

Final bivy on the beautiful plateau south of Grand Veymont (2369m)

On the way to Plaine de la Queyrie

Descending to Plaine de la Queyrie – the weather quicky got worse with wind gust up to 90km/h by the time we reached the car – time to get out!

Overview of the route – we started/finished at Col de Rousset, about 6km off the western edge of the map