Final reflections on an amazing trip

Mike Jaques
Tue 30 Aug 2022 06:59

56:11.0N 5:31.8W

So now we know that Umiak is safely back in Ardfern, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on a fantastic expedition experience. The trip was first discussed in 2019 with a view to going in 2020 and, of course the two year covid-induced delay has only served to heighten the anticipation and excitement.


Although some of the team had been on similar trips before (Svalbard and Greenland), not everyone knew everyone else well and yet we bonded with the habitual banter and joking from day one and there was never the slightest moment of tension or irritation between members. Apart from the fact that we are all such nice people, much of that must be due to Mike’s leadership and I don’t think anyone will ever be able to appreciate the huge depth of time, personal and financial resource that he put into this venture. The meticulous planning, the stocking and packing of the boat so that he knows exactly where every lost widget, tin of beans and wine box is, were truly amazing and impressive even for those of us who have experienced it on previous outings….and on top of all that, he had to put up with climbing with me!


Greenland is truly amazing and I would share others views that even after many trips to the Himalaya, European alps and Alaska etc, it really is the last alpine wilderness and the sights and sounds can never truly be captured by photo and video. I cannot better Gringo’s comments on the visible and tangible impact of global warning with the receding glaciers and melting ice-caps and I thought he expressed it brilliantly (even though he forgot I was on the trip and even after I bandaged his leg!)


Incidentally, medically this was a totally uneventful journey and the first aid/medical kit was hardly broached except for some serious blisters, a nasty cut from a moving boulder and a course of antibiotics for a dental abscess….so you don’t need to do much restocking of the medicine cupboard, Mike!


So, as I sit in a warm, sunny arid south of England that seems a million miles from the Arctic, thanks again, especially to Mike for inviting and allowing us to share a wonderful and very special experience and thanks to all the team (I shan’t name them in case I omit someone!!) for your company and friendship. May we all climb, sail and ski together again soon!


ALASTAIR MILLER 27 August 2022