Arc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion

Adventure - - News - Words and im­ages by Bart de Zwart

The mo­ment I stepped out of the small air­plane onto the and cold wind cut through all the clothes I had on. I pulled up the zip­per of my jacket and pulled my beanie as much over my ears as I could. I had ar­rived in Green­land.

A wide and bare land­scape made of rocks, grass and moss stretched out in front of me. At the bot­tom of the hill was Nuuk, with 6000 in­hab­i­tants the cap­i­tal of Green­land, a huge coun­try the size of Europe with a pop­u­la­tion of only 57,000, and the least dense coun­try in the world.

In Nuuk I stepped on the weekly ferry up North above the Arc­tic Cir­cle all the way to Ilulis­sat, a 2-day voy­age. In Ilulis­sat the real ad­ven­ture started

Stand up pad­dle­board be­fore, but they seemed very shy and didn’t ask many ques­tions. They looked at me and smiled as I left the dock. I al­ways have to get used to the weight of packed with food and wa­ter for 8 days, safety gear, nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment, my ‘sup bed’ and plenty of warm clothes. I was the plane with me all the way from Maui and change the way we can ex­plore, now al­most any des­ti­na­tion you can go and use a SUP. To­day was a per­fect arc­tic day with blue skies and de­cent ice­bergs.

Ilulis­sat, which means Ice­berg in Green­landic is sit­u­ated next to the most pro­duc­ing glacier in the North­ern hemi­sphere. 50 me­ters a day and 20 bil­lion tons ev­ery year calve of the glacier and I was pad­dling right be­tween those ice­bergs. Ice windy days this would be a very danger­ous task, and a big risk of be­ing crushed by the ever-mov­ing ice. Later I heard sto­ries of Nor­we­gian Kayak­ers who got crushed be­tween the ice­bergs fur­ther up North.

Pad­dling be­tween the icy gi­ants was very fas­ci­nat­ing and in the be­gin­ning al­most fright­en­ing at the same time. Ev­ery minute you would hear a loud, some­times thun­der like, sound of an ice­berg break­ing off which some­times set a whole set of move­ments in mo­tion. I saw a small piece break off af­ter which the whole 100 ft tall ice­berg turned up­side down in a slow mo­tion. Or an even taller ice­berg to­tally col­lapsed and cre­ated waves that could eas­ily throw you over.

I pad­dled and took pho­tos un­til well af­ter midnight. The last few hours was an end­less sun­set and then just when you think it will set, the sun starts to rise again.

The 24-hour day­light was ac­tu­ally very use­ful while I was pad­dling, but un­til now I never had to wear my Maui Jim sun­glasses 24/7.

the big ice­bergs re­mained which were spread apart in front of me. It was an­other 50 miles to Aasi­aat , the next small town. I was loving my new dry­suit from Sup­skin, which had been so much more com­fort­able than the wet­suit I had been pad­dling in on other trips. It is made of a breath­able ma­te­rial and is very light and most im­por­tant of all I could wear any­thing I would like un­der­neathit. But I was tired of all the pad­dling and ex­cite­ment

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