My gallant and gregarious group of guessers guessed with gusto and after only three clues, the name of my next peak was gained: Gunnbjørn Fjeld. Gunnbjørn Fjeld (also named Hvitserk, Gunnbjørnfjeld, Gunnbjornfjeld, Gunnbjorn Fjell, Mt. Gunnbjorn) is the highest peak in Greenland and the highest peak in the Arctic. It stands 3694 m or 12,119 feet above sea level) and is located within the Watkins Range on the east coast of Greenland.
Revealing the clues…
Clue One was a picture of the famous ’80s “A -Team” and referred to my “A-Team” of climbing the highest peaks in Antarctica and the Arctic within six months on one another.
Clue Two was a picture of a British band called the Nunataks, a group of musical scientists based in Antarctica. Gunnbjørn Fjeld is a nunatak which is a rocky peak that sticks out through glacial ice.
Clue Three was a picture of me pulling a sled during my polar training expedition with Matty NcNair in 2009. It was on that trip that the seed to cross the Greenland expedition was first planted.
Congrats to Priya who put all the pieces together first and to Trien who was not long behind her (and who was led astray by Google). Thanks to all who played another round of “What’s TA Climbing Next?”
I hadn’t been planning a major expedition for this spring but when I learned of this one, I couldn’t pass it up. For not only are we climbing Gunnbjørn Fjeld, we are crossing 300 km or so of the Greenland Icecap to get there first. Ever since reading and following Göran Kropp’s expedition to Everest where he first rode a bicycle from Sweden to Kathmandu to begin his climb, I have always wanted to do an expedition which required a major effort to reach the peak I was trying to climb. This expedition fits the bill to a “T” and helps me do another of the tasks I set for myself in my Everest 3.0 planning manifesto, a Greenland Ice Cap crossing. Though I’d originally imagined crossing east to west, this crossing will be north to south.
Our small team of five will fly from Iceland to Mittarfik Nerlerit Inaat Airport (Constable Point) in mid April. One of Greenland’s most isolated public airports, it lies 45 km north east of Ittoqqortoormiit. From Ittoqqortoormiit, “the place with the big houses”, we will travel nearly 170 kilometres by snowmobile over the sea ice of Scoresby Sound to reach the starting point of our expedition. Scoresby Sound is the world’s longest fjord and with its ancillary fjords is the largest fjord complex in the world.
From there we will sled-haul all of our provisions for a 30 day, 300 km crossing of the ice cap to reach Gunnbjørn Fjeld. We will also do a few first ascents along the way. As this is thought to be a “world’s first” in terms of a ski route, we may get to name the mountains we climb, how cool would that be. At the end of the expedition we will be picked up by ski equipped Twin Otter aircraft and fly back to Iceland. I’ve attached the map of our route and you can click on the Gunnbjørn Fjeld wikipedia entry to see a map of Greenland with the location of the mountain starred.
I have begun to train in ernest and plan to blog during preparations and the expedition itself if I can find a sponsor for a satellite phone and airtime (my Everest sat phone doesn’t work in Greenland). It will be a busy six weeks as I finish up the semester, train, and prepare all of my gear for this amazing expedition. I look forward to having all of you along once again.