6 Northeast Greenland Highlights

Hadleigh Measham

15 Mar 2018

Welcome to the best that Greenland's uncharted northeast has to offer

Veteran of over 120 voyages to the polar regions, Hadleigh Measham will be serving as the assistant expedition leader on our trip to Greenland's remote east coast this August. Few know this region of Greenland quite like Hadleigh – on his last trip to East Greenland in 2017, he made sightings of 19 healthy polar bears around the Scoresby Sund fjord system, and his specialist knowledge of seldom-visited polar bear hangouts also led to sightings during every trip of his in 2016. In this blog, Hadleigh lists some of the key attractions awaiting explorers to the region.

Gåsefjord’s (Goose Fjord’s) glacial landscape

Gåsefjord, Scoresby Sund’s southernmost arm, is largely uncharted and trends east to west with its head lying approximately 270 kilometres from the entrance at Kap Brewster. Depth soundings cease altogether as you pass Knækket ("the Break") and enter its deeper recesses. Two huge glaciers - the mighty Magga Dan and Kista Dan - calve frequently into its mid-section, choking it with ice and often rendering further progress either slow or altogether impossible. This is certainly one of the most seldom-visited arms of Scoresby Sund, but also one of the most exciting.

Rødeø (Red Island)

Rødeø is located at the southern end of Rødefjord (Red Fjord) and was named by Lieutenant Carl Ryder’s East Greenland expedition of 1891-92. It was named for its rather conspicuous composition of red conglomerate which also makes up some of the cliffs and canyons of the western side of the fjord. The northern end of the small island is always encircled by towering icebergs grounded on the shallow sea floor. These icebergs have mostly emanated from the active Vestfjord Gletscher (Glacier) and Rolige Bræ (meaning "peaceful glacier" in Danish) about 40 and 20 kilometres away, respectively. The area offers excellent Zodiac cruising and a short hike to Ryder’s cairn atop the island which offers magnificent views.

Northern Hall Bredning (Hall Inlet)

Hall Bredning is the large inlet bounded by Jameson and Milne Lands that makes up the northern basin of the main, broad branch of Scoresby Sund’s impressive fjord complex. At the northern end of the inlet lies the confluence of two other branches, Øfjord (Island Fjord) and Nordvestfjord. The area is home to a large polynya, an area of water that remains ice-free even during freeze-up and throughout winter. For this reason, humans have used the area for centuries to live and hunt and the remains of Paleo-Inuit dwellings are common.

Upper Nordvestfjord (Northwest Fjord)

At the head of Nordvestfjord lies the terminus of the Daugaard-Jensen Gletscher (Glacier) which is one of, if not the most, productive glaciers in East Greenland in terms of ice output. It is thought to be responsible for creating the majority of icebergs seen to the north of Iceland. Sailing into the upper reaches of Nordvestfjord is thus an achievement in its own right. Whilst the highest parts of the fjord are uncharted, including branches and inlets such as Flyverfjord (a spectacular iceberg "graveyard"), some depths have been recorded as nearly 1.5 kilometres, all whilst being over 300 kilometres from the open ocean; Nordvestfjord is the longest in the world after all. Polar bears are known to den in upper Nordvestfjord, though most will likely leave in the spring with the sea ice. Some bears are known however to remain in the fjords during the summer, finding some success hunting seals at the glacial margins. Bears in East Greenland are hunted however, and as such most are particularly prone to avoiding humans!

Segelsällskapet Fjord

East Greenland possesses some of the greatest visible geodiversity of anywhere on the planet. Scoresby Sund, as well as Kong Oskar and Kejser Franz Josef Fjords, contain the largest ice-free areas of Greenland and of course much of this is very sparsely vegetated. The Eleonore Bay Group is a 14-kilometre sequence of probably the most photogenic rocks in East Greenland, and arguably anywhere in the world, and can be viewed excellently in Segelsällskapet Fjord. Whilst many visit Greenland’s east coast to experience the remoteness, prehistory, wildlife and towering icebergs, they often leave in awe of some of the geological formations. If you don’t believe us, Google ‘Berzelius Bjerg’.

Ella Ø (Ella Island)

Ella Island lies at the mouth of Kempe Fjord within inner Kong Oscar Fjord, and was named after the wife of Alfred Nathorst, a Swedish explorer who visited the area in 1899. A scientific station was established on the north side of the island at Solitærbugt (Diamond Bay) in August 1931, the main house becoming known as the Eagle’s Nest. Several additional buildings have since been established and the Danish elite military unit, the Sirius Dog Sledge Patrol, still make use of the base today. The Eagle’s Nest can be visited with permission and the island offers excellent hiking and the chance to encounter some of the fauna of the region.

Hadleigh Measham will be joined on our East Greenland Wilderness Expedition by professional photographer and guide Andrew James - who will be dispensing expert advice on how best to capture Greenland's spectacular sights from behind your lens - as well as expedition leader Beau Pruneau and naturalist guide Jens Wikström, all with years of polar experience behind them. This incredible pioneering voyage on board the ice-strengthened M/S Freya will take you to areas that most tourists simply don't have the chance to see; most stick to the warmer south and more densely populated west of the country, both of which are much more easily navigable than the east. This is a trip for those with a true sense of adventure.

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