Qeqqata expedition part II: the lower Eternity fjord, and towards Maniitsoq

In the first part of this series I have hiked and paddled roughly parallel to the Sondre Stromfjord through remote valleys for 10 days. By the 15th of august I have made a crucial crossing of the fjord, which allows me to penetrate deeper into the astounding labyrith of fjords and mountains near the lower Eternity fjord. The weather conditions remain outstanding throughout this part of the trip, which allows me to climb a few nameless mountains along the way. This was without any doubt one of the most beautiful weeks I have spent in the wilderness in my entire life.

Another splendid morning while hiking down the valley

Another splendid morning while hiking down the valley

Crossing a low pass towards an elongated lake in the next valley.

Crossing a low pass towards an elongated lake in the next valley.

Views from a nameless summit

Views from a nameless summit

I camped high in a small side valley in order to climb a few summits in a nameless range during the evening hours.

I camped high in a small side valley in order to climb a few summits in a nameless range during the evening hours.

Views north while climbing up a nameless peak in the evening hours

Views north while climbing up a nameless peak in the evening hours

Views towards the mountains lining a valley draining directly into the Davis Strait.

Views towards the mountains lining a valley draining directly into the Davis Strait.

Evening high in a nameless range

Evening high in a nameless range

Sunset in a nameless range on another splendid summer evening

Sunset in a nameless range on another splendid summer evening

Descending back down the side valley the next morning

Descending back down the side valley the next morning

I crossed the next pass as fast as I could to reach the next fjord before the fjord wind picked up.

I crossed the next pass as fast as I could to reach the next fjord before the fjord wind picked up.

Crossing the next fjord - a 2.5km crossing - on a beautiful august morning

Crossing the next fjord – a 2.5km crossing – on a beautiful august morning

The terrain to climb away from the fjord and up the next pass was harsh

The terrain to climb away from the fjord and up the next pass was harsh

Easy rolling terrain on the descent towards the next bay and paddling section.

Easy rolling terrain on the descent towards the next bay and paddling section.

Reaching the stunning lower Eternity Fjord.

Reaching the stunning lower Eternity Fjord.

Paddling on the lower Eternity Fjord in the evening - I paddled a 23km section up the fjord

Paddling on the lower Eternity Fjord in the evening – I paddled a 23km section up the fjord

A magnificent evening paddle on Eternity fjord

A magnificent evening paddle on Eternity fjord

Another splendid morning along Eternity Fjord.

Another splendid morning along Eternity Fjord.

Continuing the long paddling section on the fjord the next morning, with a 3km crossing towards the Southern shore.

Continuing the long paddling section on the fjord the next morning, with a 3km crossing towards the Southern shore.

Taking out of the fjord after a 23km paddling section just before the fjordwind picks up again.

Taking out of the fjord after a 23km paddling section just before the fjordwind picks up again.

I camped in a small side valley, ready to give it a blast up one of the many nameless mountains lining the fjord.

I camped in a small side valley, ready to give it a blast up one of the many nameless mountains lining the fjord.

Climbing up a nameless mountain on rock slabs in the evening hours.

Climbing up a nameless mountain on rock slabs in the evening hours.

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Views from the nameless mountain on the southern edge of Eternity Fjord. I called it the Garden of Eden

Sunset from the Garden of Eden

Sunset from the Garden of Eden

Sunset from the Garden of Eden

Sunset from the Garden of Eden

The sea fog had penetrated deep into the fjord by the next morning. It dissolved again by noon.

The sea fog had penetrated deep into the fjord by the next morning. It dissolved again by noon.

Hiking up a valley the next day.

Hiking up a valley the next day.

Snow grouse could be spotted pretty much anywhere during my trip.

Snow grouse could be spotted pretty much anywhere during my trip.

I climbed another nameless mountain the next day. Access towards the vast summit plateau was difficult, and I searched for a way up for over 2 hours. Eventually I gained access through this naste 45° couloir full of scree, boulders and with a short scrambling section. As I wanted to sleep high on the mountain I carried up my backpack - hard work!

I climbed another nameless mountain the next day. Access towards the vast summit plateau was difficult, and I searched for a way up for over 2 hours. Eventually I gained access through this nasty 40° couloir full of scree, boulders and with a short scrambling section. As I wanted to sleep high on the mountain I carried up my backpack – hard work!

Climbing up the nameless mountain I called 'The Stegosaurus' because of it spectacular broken summit ridge.

Climbing up the nameless mountain I called ‘The Stegosaurus’ because of it spectacular broken summit ridge.

Views from the Stegosaur

Views from the Stegosaur

Sunset from The Stegosaurus

Sunset from The Stegosaurus

Sunset from the Stegosaurus, with sea fog invading the fjords from Davis Strait.

Sunset from the Stegosaurus, with sea fog invading the fjords from Davis Strait.

Bivy high up the slopes of The Stegosaurus.

Bivy high up the slopes of The Stegosaurus.

By the next morning sea fog had filled the fjords again; it dissolved once again around noon. I had an easy morning to make the difficult descent in fair weather.

By the next morning sea fog had filled the fjords again; it dissolved once again around noon. I had an easy morning to make the difficult descent in fair weather.

Descending towards the fjord.

Descending towards the fjord.

This walk along the fjord was of an extraordinary beauty.

This walk along the fjord was of an extraordinary beauty.

Greenland beauty at the outflow of a nameless lake.

Greenland beauty at the outflow of a nameless lake.

Greenland beauty at the outflow of a nameless lake.

Greenland beauty at the outflow of a nameless lake.

I paddled 12km down the fjord in dense sea fog the next morning. The weather cleared as I started my difficult alpine crossing towards the next fjord.

I paddled 12km down the fjord in dense sea fog the next morning. The weather cleared as I started my difficult alpine crossing towards the next fjord.

Looking back towards the fjord during the first part of the climb on moraines and boulders.

Looking back towards the fjord during the first part of the climb on moraines and boulders.

At an altitude of about 550m I had to turn back as glaciers and steep rock slabs blocked the way further up towards the pass.

At an altitude of about 550m I had to turn back as glaciers and steep rock slabs blocked the way further up towards the pass.

Bivy behind a moraine down by the fjord on another splendid evening.

Bivy behind a moraine down by the fjord on another splendid evening.

Bivy behind a moraine down by the fjord on another splendid evening.

Bivy behind a moraine down by the fjord on another splendid evening.

I climbed a nameless summit along the fjord in the evening, with fantastic views towards the mountains I had not been able to cross earlier that day.

I climbed a nameless summit along the fjord in the evening, with fantastic views towards the mountains I had not been able to cross earlier that day.

The next morning I paddled another 10km down the fjord in sea fog and chilly conditions with a slight headwind.

The next morning I paddled another 10km down the fjord in sea fog and chilly conditions with a slight headwind.

Reaching the sea strait seperating the mainland from the Hamborgerlandet Island

Reaching the sea strait seperating the mainland from the Hamborgerlandet Island

I did not want to cross all the way towards Maniitsoq in my tiny packraft as the sea straits have vicious tidal currents. I waited for boat transport to town near Ikamiut, a building designated for school outings. During the evening and night the place was deserted, but the next morning a group of 16 kids arrived - the first humans I had seen in 16 days. We played handball and soccer until my boat transport arrived.

I did not want to cross all the way towards Maniitsoq in my tiny packraft as the sea straits have vicious tidal currents. I waited for boat transport to town near Ikamiut, a building designated for school outings. During the evening and night the place was deserted, but the next morning a group of 16 kids arrived – the first humans I had seen in 16 days. We played handball and soccer until my boat transport arrived.

Cruising towards Maniitsoq with Niels in dissolving sea fog.

Cruising towards Maniitsoq with Niels in dissolving sea fog.

Arriving in Maniitsoq

Arriving in Maniitsoq

DISCLAIMER:

This Greenland trip offered the purest, most pristine wilderness I have ever travelled through. I want it to remain that way. Therefore I have not included geographical references in my report. Whilst this might sound a bit egoistic, I’m sure experienced wilderness travellers will be able to design their own route – the possibilities are virtually endless!

I have received many messages asking for more details about my trip. Without underestimating anyone’s abilities, I want to point out that this was the most difficult trip I have ever made. The terrain was often harsh, with relentless boulderfields, moraine, serious river fordings, peat bogs, and quicksands near glaciers close to the ice sheets. There are no trails, no huts, or any other facilities for hikers along this route, and topographic maps are virtually inexistent for much of it (I used the 1/250000 Saga maps for over half of my trajectory). Backpack weight is heavy because of the lack of resupply options, I started with about 32-33kg despite using ultralight gear – but I tend to eat a lot! To packraft the fjords, one should have a good insight in the dynamics of tidal currents, (fjord)winds, katabatic winds, and how they interact in creating waves. If you are not able to fully assess these risks, or are not mentally prepared for the difficult terrain, you won’t have a lot of fun in the first place, and may end up in dangerous situations which I don’t want to be held responsible for in any way.

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