Greenland part V: towards Nanortalik

I have been on the trail for 22 days now. I have 3 days left, which were in fact my spare days before starting the trip. To finish the job, I decide to hike and raft on for a few more days towards the town of Nanortalik, on the Atlantic coast.

It is overcast as I paddle away from Tasiusaq again and towards Nalasut. I put out a few hundred meters short of the buildings, slowly pack away my raft, and start hiking upstream along a stream coming from the SSE, using sheep tracks to avoid the easy bushwhacking sections. Higher up, the stream cuts through a narrow gorge. I climb up along the right side, while the vegetation gets lower again as the altitude increases.

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After a while I reach a lake at an altitude of about 220m. I round its western shore, and continue climbing higher up into the remote valley west of peak 1030m. Actually, this is a part of the trip I have not planned at all. As I have more time left than I had expected to reach Nanortalik, I have rescheduled a bit, and decided to hike into this valley and try to climb another mountain.

The terrain high in the valley appears to become pretty rough with boulderfields, so I camp at an altitude of about 400m. It is not even 2 o’clock in the afternoon. One hour later I start climbing towards the nameless summit (711m) at the head of the valley, which I reach after a relaxed hike up, mostly on scree and small boulders. The vistas are nicer than I had expected, with a great view through the Amitsuarssuk fjord all the way to the mountains north of Frederiksdal. Small icebergs rest on the fjord. Towards the west, it’s just the green, rolling hills along the lower Tasermiut fjord all the way down to the ocean. Those hills I will cross during the next 2 days to get to Nanortalik. In the north, the overview towards the Tasiusaq bay and the mountains at the western side of Tasermiut is exceptional.

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It is a calm evening with a lot of bugs, and I go to sleep early. Sunny weather welcomes me again the following morning. I get going at around 9 o’clock for a stage through the green hills towards the mouth of Tasermiut fjord. It is surprising how little I remember of the stage while writing this report exactly half a year later. It is clear the real highlights of my trip are now behind me, and my body and soul just relax and afterglow after the highly successful trip. All energy seems to have drained from my legs, and I take breaks after every 45 minutes of walking through the ankle-high brush.

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At around 3 o’clock in the afternoon I reach the northern tip of lake 110m, which is situated right above the Tasermiut fjord, with a 200-350m ridge in between. I climb onto the ridge in the evening hours to enjoy the views towards the mighty big walls at the eastern side of Tasermiut and the mountains around the Tasersuaq lake, for the last time. In the other direction, the ocean is closer than ever, with the Jacobinerhuen mountain (633m) guarding the entrance to the fjord. Countless islands dot the ocean behind.

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After the morning fog has dissolved at around 10am the following morning, I get going for the last full stage of the trip. I follow the shore of the lake, then descend through a rocky valley towards a narrow inlet of the fjord. The views towards the islands in front of the coast, with enormous icebergs drifting in between like castles, are stunning. After crossing another small pass I descend to the inlet just east of Naujat nuât, a peninsula protruding halfway into the Tasermiut fjord. Near Naujar nuât the fjord is only 1,7km wide, and I inflate my raft to cross and get towards the other side – the last important physical barrier towards Nanortalik. At the very end of the trip I will have to paddle a mere 400m to get to the town itself, which is situated on an island.

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It is sunny weather, and despite a 3 beaufort headwind which keeps my speed as low as 2km/h, I enjoy the crossing from the first until the last meter, even detouring along a huge iceberg (but keeping a safe distance in case it would collapse). I am chased by a ringed seal again for a while, but it does not approach me as close as the one deeper in the fjord 10 days ago. And then there are the views again, all the way towards the mountains around Tasersuaq in the north, and with the Tusardluarnaq mountain (730m) at the entrance of the fjord in the south. I study this mountain extensively. It will be my final goal for the evening.

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After beaching my raft on a beautiful beach at the northern side of the Niaqornaq peninsula, and taking a long break to enjoy the warm afternoon sun, I cross the small pass north of Tusardluarnaq, and descend down to the Qagssit bay at the other side. I find a bivouac spot near a small pond just north of the mountain, which I frontally climb in the evening, first on grass slopes, then on scree and small boulders. I encounter 2 polar hares on the way up. Once on the summit ridge, I discover there are in fact there are 2 summits, each with a huge Greenlandic flag. This is clearly a ‘classic’ daytrip from Nanortalik. I pick the easternmost to have the best views on the fjord.

The views are more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The iceberg graveyards in the bays along the coast, the wild mountain scenery deep in the Tasermiut area, the sea fog swallowing the islands in front of the coast one by one and invading the Sondre Sermilik fjord, the icy castles on the cold ocean water, the seal schools and the whale I see playing at the mouth of the Tasermiut fjord from my throne. The panorama is complete.

It is my last evening in the wilderness, and the combination of deep impressions from the last weeks, the thought of the daily life I am about to rejoin, and the intimate beauty of the summit touch me deeply. As the light gets softer and the shadows of the mountains grow longer, I welcome the thought that I won’t be too long before I see a waving Greenlandic flag again.

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5 thoughts on “Greenland part V: towards Nanortalik

  1. Matt says:

    This series has rendered my speechless. If I could stare at these photos for hours, I can only imagine what the sights would do to me in person. So incredibly envious of you, Willem. But thank you for sharing!

  2. Ryan says:

    Willem,

    Thanks so much for sharing your incredible journey. Your descriptions, pictures, and videos made this series of blog posts into a splendid adventure. I have longed to visit southern Greenland and experience some of its amazing and free hiking opportunities for a while. Although, the most adventurous hike I’ve been on was a mere 14 miles and a small mountain, your posts have served as a source of inspiration for me. Thanks again for sharing this with the world, and I hope you make it back there soon!

    Cheers!

    -Ryan

    • Willem says:

      Hi Ryan, thanks for reading! Southern Greenland is the most spectacular region I have seen in my life, and I hope you can make it there some time!

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