29-Jun-2013 -- This is the first out of 6 reports of attempts to reach confluence points in Greenland. Even though the largest island in the world offers more than 800 confluences and even if my will to reach a virgin point was strong, I had to concede defeat. 90% of the confluences are on the ice-shield and therefore difficult to reach. Besides the lack of roads and transportation, the summer offers swampy tundra where progress on foot is extremely slow. At least we were able to follow Peter Scharfenberg's footsteps. He has documented a couple confluence points back in 2006. Now being back from our own trip, we were surprised to learn that we had reached/attempted exactly the same confluence points as he did.
This confluence is on the ice-shield, but right at the edge of it. According to Google-Earth, it is 800 m from ice-free terrain. The distance of 30 km (beeline) from Greenland’s main airport Kangerlussuaq suggests a realistic chance to be visited by ordinary touristic hikers (like us).
Prior to our arrival in Greenland I wrote to the local outdoor experts:
We are planning to visit the exact point at the coordinates 67°N, 50°W, which is 13 km south-east of Russels Glacier and about 800 m into the ice shield. The reason for this visit is to document this point within the www.confluence.org project, because this point has not yet been documented. My question is about the conditions to get there from Kangerlussuaq. We would need to cross Sandflugtdalen and the river Akuliarusiarsuup Kuua. Secondly, we would need to travel about 800 m into the inland ice near 67°N, 50°W. What hiking route would you recommend? We are arriving on the 29th of June.
Thank you for your answer, Rainer Mautz
The answer was:
Dear Rainer and Guang,
The river Akuliarusiarsuup Kuua is going to be at its highest and you will not be able to cross it on foot.
I talked to our local Ice Cap expert and he recommend you charter a helicopter (www.airgreenland.com) to go to that exact spot. There is an access to the Ice Cap that can be reached by car, but it is long way from the position you seek and there will be rivers of melt water on the Ice Cap at the moment. Glacier experience is needed to be safe and it could take as long as one week maybe to get to the point by foot considering the huge amounts of melt water on the Ice Cap. Our Ice Cap expert is not available for guided walks on the Ice Cap at the time.
So my advice to you is that you charter a helicopter, if you lack gear for the stay at the Ice Cap we might be able to help you renting.
Right after our arrival in Kangerlussuaq I asked whether we could charter a helicopter, but I was turned down. Air Greenland has no helicopters stationed in Kangerlussuaq and therefore does not offer air trips. So it was quite clear that we had no chance to get to our desired location. Nevertheless we went to a similar spot on the ice-shield, which can be reached by road, the so-called point 660 near Russells Glacier. Besides some streams that needed to be jumped over, access was easy. But it can be expected that anywhere else, making progress on the ice is more difficult - in particular in summer. My suggestion is to attempt this confluence in spring before the melt water rises and the snow melts away on the ice-shield.
The next day we started hiking the polar circle trail.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 30 km
- Distance to a track: 15 km
- Time at nearest distance to CP: 4:30 PM
- Measured height: 210 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 15.1 km
- Position accuracy: 7 m
- Topography: hilly
- Vegetation: probably none.
- Weather: snow storm, 4° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Kangerlussuaq Confluence
The story continues is at 67°N 51°W.