Read my articles on Visitgreenland.com

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Me on the Greenland Ice Sheet in September 2017. Just one of the things that has kept me occupied since the last time I posted here on this blog.

I haven’t written anything for half a year – how on Earth can that be?! I think about it nearly every day, and I certainly have had lots of exciting moments. I make reminders to myself to write about the little ideas I jot down here and there. But I write SO much in my daily job that I think I just get burned out…

So I’m killing two bird with one stone here and giving a shameless plug to read my latest writing about Greenland over on www.visitgreenland.com ūüôā

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Relaxing Lodge Getaway Highlight on the new waterfront Ilimanaq Lodge that opened in summer 2017 in Disko Bay

8 Times the Light in Greenland was Absolutely Heavenly¬†Greenland’s landscapes and light are a photographer’s dream

Winter Sailing¬†a highlight about why winter on the water isn’t as scary as you think, plus where to do it

6 Instagram Shots You Must Get in Nuuk Like a social media scavenger hunt, these photo suggestions will take you running all around the capital

Greenland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are Pure Nature¬†a peek at what you will find up here plus how to experience it

5 Greenlandic Foods + 1 Cocktail to Try¬†How to ‘go native’ without eating the really exotic stuff (unless that’s your thing)

Arctic Weather: For Better or For Worse a photo collection to show all the wonderful types of weather in Greenland, plus tips on how to thrive in them

The Coolest Skiing in Greenland¬†isn’t where you think! Watch this video of skiing in Nuuk that will leave you so pumped for the snow season

Drone Rules in Greenland what everyone needs to know before packing any drone gear

Behind the Camera An interview with professional photographer, Paul Zizka, about his photography workshops in Greenland

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And, as always, my @polarphile Instagram account is where I post most frequently about the small, daily moments of #lifeatthetopoftheworld. Follow me!

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Hiking In Greenland – Kingittorsuaq Mountain in Nuuk

 

Beginning to scramble/use hands on the way up. Photo by: Raven Eye Photography РVisit Greenland

The rush you get standing on top of a mountain is a special kind of adrenaline. Photo by: Raven Eye Photography РVisit Greenland

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KINGITTORSUAQ¬†is proof that there’s BIG adventure in Nuuk, the Arctic Metropolis of Greenland. It is¬†one of the four mountains in the city’s immediate vicinity that most residents know by name.¬†(The other three are: Ukkusissat, Quassussuaq and Sermitsiaq). While¬†most locals¬†will take Ukkusissat as a Saturday morning or even after-work fun trip, sometimes you just want something a little more extreme.

SEE TO THE BOTTOM FOR SOME QUICK BITS ABOUT WHY KINGITTORSUAQ IS MORE DIFFICULT YET MORE EXCITING THAN THE STANDBYS.

My Hike on Kingittorsuaq

Three weekends ago (on 18 June 2016) I had the privilege to hike Kingittorsuaq mountain for the second time. The first time I hiked it was back in June 2012, so that shows you how infrequently this opportunity tends to come along without special circumstance.

Here’s some photographs from the trip. I think the two best experiences of the whole day were 1) cresting at the ‘saddle’ for a view over snow-capped peaks that even fooled Greenlanders into thinking it was the tough and rugged mountains of East Greenland, and 2) taking¬†a quick polar plunge in a little meltwater swimming hole near the summit!

IMG_0623Hiking from sea to summit is no small feat. Sometimes one thinks, “Can I REALLY do this?” The answer is Yes, you can! Just put one foot in front of the other.¬†The bottom half of the mountain is grassy/mossy/shrubby terrain, which I personally think is tougher on the legs than the rocky part.

IMG_0625¬†And anywhere there’s lush green terrain, there’s fresh running water sources. It’s special about Greenland to be able to drink directly from a stream or waterfall. Here we are at approximately 219 m / 719 ft above sea level.

IMG_0639 Spectacular outlook point from the saddle at approximately 800 m / 2625 ft above sea level. This is the shot that made some locals think it was East Greenland! The first of two best experiences of the whole day.

IMG_0654Here solidly into the rocky terrain, between 800-900 m / 2625-2953 ft above sea level, looking southward. It’s scrambling / bouldering from here on up, with more than a few narrow passes.

IMG_0656¬†My favourite perspective, actually. There’s something about the steep wall¬†of Kingittorsuaq in the foreground, Kangerluarsunnguaq fjord in the middle ground, and Nuuk Fjord beyond. You can see everything. Approximately 1169 m¬†¬†/ 3834 ft above sea level.¬†

IMG_0665 So beautiful and clear day. Feels like you could see all the way to Canada. Looking north into Nuuk Fjord. Four hours into the hike.

headstand kingittorsuaq Beautiful overlooks deserve a yoga moment. Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography.

alpine swim kingittorsuaqAnd little ponds of snowmelt deserve a quick dip. No, it wasn’t the slightest bit warm, but sometimes you just know when you’re NEVER going to get the same chance again, so it’s now or never. The other best experience of the entire day. Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography.¬†

So there you have a digital tour of hiking Kingittorsuaq in Nuuk, Greenland. Want some more info to decide if Kingittorsuaq is right for you? Read below.

 

Why Kingittorsuaq is more difficult than Ukkusissat:

  • It’s taller by approx. 410 meters / 1345 feet. (Ukkusissat is 780 m / 2559 ft and Kingittorsuaq is 1190 m / 3904 ft).
  • The top half (rough estimate) is pure bouldering/scrambling (i.e. you must use your hands to climb up) and, in some places,¬†involves some “tight rope walking” along narrow passes.

Nearly to the true summit of Kingittorsuaq. The left picture is a view northward into Nuuk Fjord. The right picture is a more westward view; Nuuk city is behind the mountain in the middle ground, Ukkusissat.

  • There is no marked route, no slightly-trodden trail. You should absolutely go with someone who knows the way.
  • There are a lot of (sharp) loose stones and rocks in the top half. You must constantly pay attention to your hand placement and footing, and as one of my hiking partners noted, the conversation definitely dies down a bit as everyone starts concentrating more.

Why Kingittorsuaq is more exciting than Ukkusissat:

  • Kingittorsuaq¬†one of the less-hiked mountains in Nuuk, so there’s absolutely a feeling of exclusivity and remoteness. The first time I hiked it, our group of 3 women + 1 man¬†was the only group¬†out there. This time, our group of 2 women + 3 men¬†met just one other group: 4 men.
  • There’s a built-in sailing experience¬†to get to the starting point. Unless, of course, you want to start with a 30 km walk or run through the Nuuk backcountry and Kangerluarsunnguaq lowlands – which, by the way, IS a thing. It’s called the annual KangNu Race, which I have run twice, both in the short version and in the seriously hard long version!¬†To sail to Kingittorsuaq¬†like most people, you have the option of hiring a boat charter via Nuuk Water Taxi and then hiking on your own, or the other option is to purchase the experience as a ‘tour’ from a local operator, either Nuuk Adventure or Inuk Expedition.

IMG_0621 Kingittorsuaq is the double-peaked mountain. The left peak is, clearly, the higher of the two and is the true summit.

What to wear/bring with you in your daypack (NOT an all-inclusive list):

  • Breathable/ quick-dry layers, never cotton. Being able to regulate your body temperature ever so slightly with several thinner layers is infinitely more valuable than having one or a few thicker layers. For this particular day (light wind 10 m/s or less, air temperature around 5-10*C) I wore long running pants, a breathable¬†short-sleeve shirt, a lightweight wool-blend long-sleeve base layer, a lightweight wool sweater (which came off and on periodically), and a ultra lightweight vest. Also a thin Buff headband. At some points I did take on a pair of gloves when I could feel my fingers were a bit slow reacting. It’s also good to have an extra pair of wool socks, and at least one extra layer along with you as backup.

IMG_0661 Taking in the sights at 1170 m / 3842 ft on Kingittorsuaq. FANTASTIC view over the entire world, it feels like. Note the clothing.

  • Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support, preferably waterproof. Good footwear simply cannot be stressed enough for hiking in Greenland. The granite in these mountains is rough and sharp, and it’s not really an exaggeration to say that it can eat the soles (and souls) of cheap or old hiking boots.

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  • Lunch. It can take a¬†fitter-than-average person around 4 hours to reach the summit, plus nearly the same amount of time to get back down, so you will want to have plenty of energy store. Don’t let yourself get hangry. Chocolate and nuts are always good mountain snacks, but a slab of smoked Greenlandic reindeer meat is also perfect for the trip. When in Rome…
  • Water bottle. There are several places to collect fresh drinking water directly from runoff streams, and it tastes so refreshing!
  • Hat and gloves. Yes, even¬†in summer a light wind can make it quite cold. It’s especially important to protect the dexterity of your hands given how much bouldering/scrambling you’ll be doing at higher altitudes.
  • Gaiters. Useful at the bottom half when traipsing through low brush and at the top half if there should be any snowy patches. At the very least, they can be an extra layer of lower-leg protection against mosquito bites.
  • Mosquito net hat. Speaking of… Arctic summers are notorious for mosquitoes and flies, and they can be especially gruesome when there’s little or no wind.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen. High latitudes plus high altitudes are the perfect combination for getting a lot of color on your face in just a few hours. Add in the sun’s reflection off of snow, and you’ve got a perfect combination for sunburn. Protect your skin and eyes!

How to Get Here

  • Fly through ICELAND.
    • Air Greenland flies direct from¬†Keflavik International Airport to Nuuk International Airport (3 hour flight).
    • Air Iceland Connect flies direct from¬†Reykjav√≠k Domestic Airport to Nuuk International Airport (3 hour flight).
  • Fly through DENMARK.
    • Air Greenland flies from Kastrup/Copenhagen International Airport to Kangerlussuaq International Airport in Greenland (4 hour flight) and then on to Nuuk International Airport (1 hour flight).

Celebrating the Return of the Sun in Ilulissat, plus 4 Things I (Re)Learned About Greenland Doing It

IMG_4974  Southerly view over the Ilulissat Icefjord toward the sunrise, standing at Seqinniarfik. Photo taken: 13 Jan 2016.

First sunrise in 6 weeks

Yesterday the sun rose above the horizon in Ilulissat for the first time in six weeks. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing on 30 November last year? Probably not; it feels so long ago. Now imagine that you have not set eyes on the sun ‚Äď the very thing you‚Äôre taught not to look directly at ‚Äď since that day.

Needless to say, there’s a bit of a celebration in Ilulissat to bid the sun welcome back. Schools and offices close early, and everyone trudges in one way or another out to a viewpoint called Seqinniarfik in the UNESCO World Heritage Site to watch the sun come up over the mountains on the south side of the Ilulissat Icefjord, take a small skip across the sky, and go down again a mere 52 minutes later.

I joined the masses out there on the hill and was so happy the share the time surrounded by people. Much like most of my experiences in Greenland, it was an instant renewal of my appreciation for the country and a reminder about these 4 things I’ve come to learn about Greenland over time.

DSCN2786¬†Starting out toward Seqinniarfik. Check the tiny dots (people) on the top of the hill! And that’s not even the final spot. Photo taken: 13 Jan 2016

 

1) Nothing comes on a silver platter

A nicely-plowed plank boardwalk all the way from the road up to Seqinniarfik could have been a dream, but this is Greenland, where even a well-defined sidewalk in town is sometimes too much to ask.

The route to Seqinniarfik was through sled dog territory and over natural terrain, perfectly easy to clear in summer but slightly challenging in winter conditions. The snow was crunchy sheets that didn’t always hold my weight, sending me sinking into knee-deep snow beneath. The high winds of the last two weeks continued and were so strong at my back it gave me a pressure headache and made me dread having to walk into the force on the way home. I didn’t dare to grab my camera out of my pocket for fear of either dropping it or, much worse, having one of my precious sealskin mittens blow away in the midst of a juggling maneuver.

Of course, I did dare because I just had to take a picture, but after even just a few minutes with gloves off, your fingers start to lose mobility to even press the shutter button. Then you have to make the really difficult choice between ‚Äėgetting the shot‚Äô (or taking a selfie, let’s be honest) and feeling like you might lose an index finger. All mittens stayed thankfully in my possession but the minus temperatures rendered both my iPhone and digital camera frozen in place after a mere four or five times coming out of my pocket.

No, it‚Äôs not always a piece of cake to get out into the Greenlandic nature in winter, but it sure is worth it once you’re there.

 IMG_4976 Seqinniarfik selfie. At the top. Photo taken: 13 Jan 2016.

 

2) There are no words for how stunning Greenland is

Sometimes you can sit looking at the Greenlandic landscape and you could just cry. I have said this myself, and I have heard tourists say it, too. It is a natural reaction when you have so many impressions and feelings swirling around in your body that can’t get out in a normal way with thoughts or speech. Instead, they jump out themselves in a most physical manner.

This country is breathtaking and incredible. The nature is pure and raw and strong and powerful. In pictures I have seen other places that the world calls beautiful, maybe because they are colorful or peaceful, and I always think to myself, ‚ÄėDid those places challenge people‚Äôs willpower, make them stronger, and generally put humanity to the test?‚Äô To me, that is beauty.

Greenland is not beautiful despite its extreme conditions. It is beautiful because of them.

 

3) The weakest Greenlander is still stronger than the average person

If someone had a mere single breath in him or her, they made an effort to reach Seqinniarfik, it seemed. It was not only the young school kids skating around in their high top sneakers on the icy rocks and holding their thin jackets overhead like sails in a summer breeze.

Not even poor physical condition could keep some people away from the hill. I saw older people out there walking through the snow at a pace of maybe two kilometers an hour, one foot in front of the other, but determined nonetheless to see the first sunrise in six weeks. I even saw a woman on her motorized scooter at the end of the road waiting, hopefully, for someone to pick her up on snowmobile. One could imagine they have done this every year for their entire lives. One could imagine this was maybe one of the few times they got out into the nature anymore.

 

4) Greenlanders do appreciate their own nature, even on the 25000th day

I have heard tourists speculate sometimes that Greenlanders probably forget how fantastic the landscape is since they see it day in and day out, coupled with their observation that Greenlanders rarely exclaim ‚ÄúOh my gosh! How pretty!‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúLook at that!‚ÄĚ toward things a tourist definitely would point out.

On the contrary, living close to and appreciating the nature is an innate element of Greenlandic culture. Regardless of whether one is in the biggest city in the country or in the smallest settlement, the nature is always there and always central to life. Greenlanders can be a people of few yet profound words, hence the lack the exclamations, and my own friend explained this very phenomenon in exactly this style.

She said, ‚ÄúWhy ruin the moment with words about something that is already obvious?‚ÄĚ

Touché.

DSCN2789 View over Ilulissat. Photo taken: 13 Jan 2016.

Follow an Expedition in Greenland on board the M/S Fram

16931842484_ce2ea4389d_k Photo credit: Visit Greenland

Recently, two of my favorite colleagues took an expedition with the M/S Fram, a Norwegian cruise ship, along the west coast of Greenland. They were busy working, yes, but they definitely proved the old adage correct:

If you love what you’re doing and have fun doing it, then you never work a day in your life!

Together Tanny Por (whom you may know from The Fourth Continent) and Mads Pihl created these stories that bring you on board with the expedition! They are posted daily in Danish on Sermitsiaq.ag, one of the national media, and in English on The Arctic Journal, so keep checking back for their latest adventures!

* Note: Cruising is not the only way to experience Greenland! You can also take land-based holidays in Greenland, with a guide or on your own.

Golfing in Greenland

Same same, but different.

That’s a phrase that can be used to describe a lot of things in Greenland. In the Arctic, certain climate, environmental, and infrastructural facts of life just make some things more challenging. But not impossible.

Like golfing in Greenland!

This morning I¬†read online at KNR (Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa / Greenland Broadcasting Corporation) that two American tourists were especially impressed by the golf course at Nuuk Golf Club, and I just couldn’t resist re-posting here. Who wouldn’t love to tee off¬†surrounded by the iconic mountains in Greenland’s capital city?

It is these small elements which surprise people and make Greenland special. And if you can believe it, there even used to be the World Ice Golf Championship in Uummannaq, Greenland which Steve Rushin, a¬†Sports Illustrated¬†writer, wrote into history when he included a chapter about it, called “Winter Rules,” in his 2007 book, “The Caddie was a Reindeer: And Other Tales of Extreme Recreation”.

This morning’s article, written by Apollo Jeremiassen, is originally published in Greenlandic and Danish here, but I’m providing my own English translation below so you all can read it, too.

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AMERICAN TOURISTS IMPRESSED BY GOLF COURSE

By Apollo Jeremiassen. 16 July 2015.

As as foreigner or tourist it is hard to imagine that a golf course can be found so close to the Arctic Circle, like in Nuuk. But two American tourists are impressed that they found such a hard and unique golf course.

The two American tourists, from California and New York, played at Nuuk Golf Club this past Monday.

Tourists from all over the world want to see and experience Greenland in many different ways. Some want to see icebergs that drift slowly in the mirror-like sea where, every once in a while, whales come with an enormous blow in the vicinity of large cruise ships with thousands of passengers on board.

But others want to play golf.

One golfer was American David Bandley from Los Angeles, California, who has his own plane for transport when he goes to meetings in different places in the world.

His handicap is around 10, which is pretty nice for an older American man to have. He thinks it is totally great that a golf course can be found so far north.

“When you think about the fact that you are so close to the Arctic Circle, it is just fantastic that a golf course can be found in Nuuk. I really enjoyed playing here, and you all can be proud to have a beautiful golf course such as¬†this one”, Bandley says.

The other golfer was Mike McKaskey from New York, who says that Nuuk Golf Club’s course is totally different than those he¬†typically plays on in USA.

“This one is totally different and difficult to play on because there are lots of rocks around the course. But you all must watch out now. Now I will be able to beat you,” McKaskey says.

And, Bandley says just for fun, that he will be the all time winner for the Greenland Open.¬†“I will win. I will win the Greenland Open for golf!”¬†he says.

KNR journalist Apollo Jeremiassen teases Bandley saying,¬†“Do you really think that you can beat a Greenlandic golfer like me?”

Bandley responded quickly and proudly.¬†“You can think that if you want! But when I get on this course, you won’t be able to keep up¬†with me.”

Henrik Skydsbjerg of Tupilak Travel, who arranged the golf trip, tells KNR that after Tupilak Travel has worked with tourists for the last 8 years, it is only this year that they could first notice an increase in tourists in Greenland.

Helicopter Flying in Greenland

Helicopter_IllorsuitAir Greenland Bell212 helicopter on route flight in Illorsuit, Greenland, 71*N (2013).

In most places around the world (so I imagine), helicopter flying is pretty rare as car, bus, or train transport has become the easiest/cheapest/fastest way to cover relatively short distances.

But it is for this exact reason that, in Greenland, transportation by helicopter is a way of life! With no roads between any of the 70+ inhabited towns and settlements, helicopters create the Greenlandic highway Рin the sky!!

And since we have the machines at our disposal, why not give them double-duty and use them for tourist flights, too?! You would be amazed by how much more detail one can see from a helicopter than from an airplane.

Read more of what I wrote in Helicopter Flying in Greenland, an article in this month’s Visit Greenland Newsletter.

Like what you see? You can sign up free to receive our Visit Greenland Newsletter every month!

Be a #GreenlandPioneer!

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Photo credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland

#GreenlandPioneer – learn it, love it, live it!

Use #GreenlandPioneer to find the largest collection of inspiring photos, stories, and news on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you name it!

What is a #GreenlandPioneer, you ask? Everyone is welcome to his or her own interpretation, but we at Visit Greenland consider a #GreenlandPioneer anyone who travels to this great northern land to discover for oneself the true meaning of experiential travel. And it’s not only those who traverse the backcountry who count; travelers in search of culture-based holidays are every bit the Greenland pioneer, too!

Like what you see in the photos and stories tagged #GreenlandPioneer? Then splurge! Take the plunge! Come see Greenland with your own eyes!

The immense nature and the Pioneering People who live in and love this country are waiting for you ūüôā

Midnight Sun in Greenland

20140711-011117-4277911.jpgLike the waning of burning coals in a campfire, the summer sun illuminates the Greenland sky long into the night. (Photo taken 10 July 2014.)

The Midnight Sun is a special summer Arctic phenomenon. Much like its winter counterpart, the Northern Lights, it is something that puts you in awe of the natural world every single time you see it.

In high school I had a friend and teammate who was from Alaska, and she used to mesmerize us with stories of bears, fishing lodges, and 24 hours of light sky. At that time, I never imagined I would ever get to experience something similar, but here I am 13 years later sitting on the couch in Greenland with the lovely view you see above!

Technically, the Midnight Sun only occurs above the Arctic Circle (66*N) where the sun never sets below the horizon for a period of anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months!

But what many don’t realize is that even destinations¬†below the Arctic Circle still feel the effects of the Midnight Sun. For example, the photo above was taken at exactly midnight in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, which lies 204 km / 127 mi below the Arctic Circle at 64*N.

To the untrained eye, this probably looks like the Midnight Sun, huh? I’ll hand it to you, it certainly doesn’t look like any midnight¬†I ever witnessed in Washington, D.C.!

See my Midnight Sun in Greenland photo gallery for snapshots of the real thing ūüôā

Check Out the Brand New Version of Greenland.com! Now LIVE!

Kangerlussuaq-03Where else in the world can you fly low and slow over an Ice Sheet, sensing that you can somehow see millennia right before your eyes? Flightseeing in Greenland is just one of many activities you can experience here! Photo by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland. 

Check out the brand-new version of Greenland.com, the official tourism site for Greenland Рnow LIVE and more impressive than ever!

Sermitsiaq.AG, a national newspaper, calls the new website “a more modern¬†and visually beautiful¬†edition” (translated).

Do you ever wonder if you can fulfill your greatest travel dreams and wishes in Greenland? Perhaps you are an avid trekker looking for a long walk in the nature to get away from the hustle of everyday life? Or maybe you’re a world history¬†fanatic who loves to learn about cultures different from your own? The Things to Do pages show you exactly how you can make your greatest¬†interests¬†a reality in Greenland, as well as open your world¬†to dozens of other activities that are possible in this beautiful country!

Or maybe you are already dreaming of Greenland but would like to know where the hotspots and best places to experience the Big Arctic Five are? The Destinations pages lead you on a virtual trip around Greenland inspiring you with photos and short articles about nearly every town and village in Greenland!

There are also oodles of resources and tools on the website to help you Plan your Trip and learn more About Greenland.

(As a contributing author to the Things To Do and Destinations pages, I personally attest to the improved quality of photos and written content and user-friendliness of the entire website :))

Happy reading to you all! Or as one says in Greenlandic, Atuarluarisi!

PHOTO GALLERY: Hiking Ukkusissat: Good enough to do 2x in 24 hours!

MadsPihl_Ukusissaq01The beauty of Nuuk is that one minute you can be in the city and the next minute you are in the great outdoors! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

If there was an official “Top 10 Things To Do in Nuuk, Greenland” list, hiking Ukkusissat¬†(a.k.a. Store Malene) would be at¬†the top for you Nature Lovers¬†who crave¬†an afternoon in the mountains¬†and who will work a bit for a good¬†panoramic view!

Ukkusissat has a strong presence in Nuuk as its snowy top can be¬†seen from every corner of town.¬†Whether you are sitting on the terrace of your¬†AirBnB¬†in Qinngorput neighborhood¬†or are strolling along the¬†pedestrian walkway in city center, Ukkusissat screams, ‘Get¬†up here already! Come look out at all of Nuuk and Nuuk Fjord¬†and pinch yourself because you are nearly at the top of the world!’¬†And for those whose eyes are always like magnets to the highest point wherever you go, well, you will probably¬†set your sights toward¬†Ukkusissat long before the Dash-8¬†even hits the runway.

Ukkusissat beckoned to me in this way¬†for a looong time.¬†In fact, one could joke it was¬†like¬†a 5th family member¬†at the breakfast table because every morning over a bowl of m√ľsli and a cup of coffee, I would stare¬†out the window to its¬†rocky slopes and promise myself that I would¬†get there one day…

cropped-img_5392.jpgGreenlanders live a life close to nature, so we are lucky to have views like this even at the breakfast table. Ukkusissat shot from Qinngorput on 18 September 2013.

It took a full two years but I finally hiked Ukkusissat, and how glad I was for that! In fact, I was so glad that I did the hike¬†twice¬†in 24 hours!¬†Someone asked me if I did that to represent each year I missed‚Ķ that’s a good idea, but no, it was just a coincidence ūüôā

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq03Being in the Greenland nature with good company makes my heart happy. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq06The water in Greenland is pure and delicious! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq05Snow at higher altitudes provides a welcome cooling effect (and hydration source) while hiking Ukkusissat. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

Here’s the thing with having a professional photographer in your hiking group – he gives you¬†great photos from the night, but he’s always working! Which means you, an unsuspecting model, are also working!

IMG_9344The talented (former) Visit Greenland photographer himself, Mads Pihl, still working at 780 m / 2559 ft, on top of Ukkusissat.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq04The sense of awe and accomplishment one feels at the top of Ukkusissat is enough to make one want to do it all over again the next day! Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014.

MadsPihl_Ukkusissaq02One can easily find pleasure in solitude in this wide and untouched land. Shot by Mads Pihl, Visit Greenland, on 20 June 2014. 

Perhaps the neatest thing about hiking the very same route the following morning was seeing the stark differences in light. In the late evening, when the sun is quite low, the sky and mountains and sea are cloaked in a beautiful warm glow. In the daytime, when the sun is high overhead, everything is blue and bright! Both times of day are nice, but I think the evening light is the most magical!

IMG_9382When you are so high on Ukkusissat, you can scan the surrounding fjords for your next adventure! For instance, Sermitsiaq is another hiking dream of mine. Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.IMG_9384Toward Sermitsiaq. Shot on 21 June 2014 at 12:00. 

IMG_9337Toward Kingittorsuaq, a delightful mountain to hike¬†ūüôā Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.

IMG_9380Toward Nuuk city. Shot on 20 June 2014 at 22:40.IMG_9388

Toward Nuuk city. Shot on 21 June 2014 at 12:00.

THE FACTS

  • Name:¬†Ukkusissat means “soapstones” in Greenlandic. Sometimes it is also written as Ukkusissaq which is just the singular¬†form. The Danish name (more commonly used) is “Store Malene”, meaning¬†“Big Malene”.
  • Height:¬†Ukkusissat is 780 m / 2559 ft tall.
  • Location:¬†Ukkusissat stands behind the¬†Qinngorput neighborhood, approximately 4.8 km / 3 mi from Nuuk city center.
  • Ukkusissat is the taller of two mountains in the immediate Nuuk area (Quassussuaq, a.k.a. Lille Malene, is the other at¬†443 m / 1453 ft).
  • Access:¬†Ukkusissat can be reached using¬†Nuup Bussii¬†public transportation toward Stop 41 Qarsoq/Asiarpak (15 DKK / 2.75 USD per ride). Always consult a bus schedule first. The best bus to catch is the #1, because it runs directly between city center and Qinngorput, 7 days a week. The #1A is another direct bus¬†between city center and Qinngorput, and it runs every day but Sunday. There are 3 other buses (#3, #X1, #X3) that reach Qinngorput, but they are either less-direct, only run on weekdays, or do not go all the way to city center.
  • Hiking Time:¬†Hiking time always depends on one’s physical fitness/hiking experience, weather conditions, and ground conditions. From personal experience only, it takes¬†approx. 1 hour 40 minutes to reach the top of Ukkusissat. The conditions were near-perfect, and I consider my¬†hiking¬†level to be Experienced on a scale from Novice¬†to Experienced to Expert. For Novice hikers or for those who wish to stop and thoroughly enjoy the views, it could take nearly 3 hours to reach the top.
  • Difficulty: Difficulty depends on one’s physical fitness/hiking experience, weather conditions, and ground conditions. There are areas on Ukkusissat where¬†one must use his hands for support to¬†make large steps up (bouldering) and where one must walk in snow.¬†From personal experience only, Ukkusissat has Medium difficulty on a scale from Easy to Medium to Hard (and again, I consider my hiking level to be Experienced on a scale from Novice to Experienced to Expert).
  • Route:¬†Follow the route marked by Orange dots painted on rock or cairns. One can also buy detailed hiking maps for Nuuk (and other towns)¬†in Atuagkat Bookstore.
  • Seasonality:¬†The best season to hike Ukkusissat is summer / early autumn, when there is the least snow present. One should take the utmost caution when hiking¬†in snow because rock crevasses may be present and the snow might not be thick enough to hold body weight. Snow also limits visibility of the marked route.

WHAT TO BRING

The weather can change quickly in Greenland, and one should be prepared for many conditions! Always check the weather before you start a hiking tour.

A really nice thing about being in the nature in Greenland is that you can usually find a natural water source to drink from directly! And if there is snow, you can just eat the snow ūüôā

  • Water bottle
  • Windproof / Waterproof layers (pants, jacket)
  • Sunglasses
  • Suncream
  • Mosquito head net (If there is little wind, the mosquitos could be quite pesky)
  • Hat
  • Gloves (even if it is not cold, they can provide hand protection if you need it)
  • Extra quick-dry layer
  • Extra socks
  • Lunch (small sandwich, fruit, chocolate bar, etc.)
  • Camera

Last but not least… Don’t forget your adrenaline and sense of adventure !!!