July 2008 Extreme Ice Survey Expedition to Uummannaq District

big Uummannaq district plans 16 – 27 July 2008 are to visit two large glaciers by boat and alpine mountaineering. Our purpose is to replace a broken time lapse camera and add additional cameras to capture the action. I bring Ohio State University student Tom Ballinger.

Uummannaq District

One base of operations, Uummannaq town is literally the heart of human activity and history in north-central-west Greenland.

Umiamiko Isbrae

Umiamiko glacier, our first objective continues a dramatic retreat that we aim to document in time-lapse imagery as part of The Extreme Ice Survey. We’ll install a National Geographic Remote Imaging timer that shoots hourly as long as there is enough light. The timer keeps the Nikon 200 camera off unless there is light to shoot. The existing timer is not so energy saving and has failed in the past, hence the replacement.

The hike to this site is 9km, up 400 m above sea level. I’ve seen it from the air and it seems but a tough hike, all class 4 mountaineering, that is, no hands.

Umiamiko slant view in Google Earth

From Umiamiko A camera, we cross a small glacier, 200 m wide, hands needed here. We anchor Tom Ballinger to rock on the west side of the glacier to cross. Tom belays Jason who hikes with crampons and ice axe to a mid point of this two pitch crossing. Jason anchors himself. Tom un-anchors and crosses to Jason. We high five at the mid point. We switch anchors. Jason crosses to east side and anchors to rock. Tom un-hitches and crosses to land. We have some glacier travel experience and we study the mountaineering Bible: “Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 7th Ed.”

From the east side, we have a cross-fall-line slog to Umi B. At Umiamiko camera B, we’ll gather pictures taken since 26 May.

After the Umiamiko camera B work is done, we’ll hike back across the talus slope, make our way back across the small glacier, and hike the remaining 9 km down to the boat landing, where, a fisherman will pick up up and ferry us to the shore of the land southwest of Rink Glacier.

We’ll keep in contact with the world using Iridium satellite phones.

Rink in Google Earth

The Rink Glacier time lapse camera has a steeper approach we are unsure we can negotiate. We can manage low class-5 mountaineering. We’ll see. If it’s too technical, we’ll reconsider. I’m also concerned, that the coastline will be too steep to land or that flows of water will block our transit.

If we make it up the land by Rink, we’ll service the existing time (swap flash cards and install Nat Geo timer) then install a second time lapse camera (B) 250 yards to the east, that in tandem with Rink camera A will give us a stereo perspective with which we can derive ice displacement, speed, velocity in 3D.

While here, we’ll work and camp 1-2 nights.

Our good friend and Greenland’s greatest living native explorer, Ole Jorgen Hammeken will have his friend Jakob boat to us and take us to Uummannaq.

We’ll stay in Uummannaq at the Polar Institute there and return by way of Illulissat and Kangerlusuuaq

Tom and I have a seat on the 27 July Air National Guard flight from Kangerlussuaq west Greenland to Scotia, NY, from where, assuming great humidity and heat, we’ll return to Ohio and Byrd Polar Research Center.

We’ll take as much video and photos as we can to share with you.