Greenland - 30.8.-5.9. and 6.9.-16.9.02
Link Fotografs of Greenland
Thilo Trinkner, Koni Schätz, Marlene Tesche, Eva, Sigurd Tesche
front: Martin Wampl, Ingo Eichelberger, Koni Schätz
back: Thilo Trinkner, Eva, Werner Burkhard, Pascal Kaufmann
A travel report
In 2002 there took place two tours for the first time, two very different diving tours to Greenland. The first one with Sigurd and Marlene Tesche, whom we lead to diving spots for their filming ambitions and their filmproject for german television. The second one was our this year's diving tour with the divers Koni Schätz, Thilo Trinkner, Martin Wampl, Ingo Eichelberger, Pascal Kaufmann and Werner Burkhard.
Already on 30.8. we left Munich at summerly temperatures and flow via Kopenhagen and Kangerlussuaq with the last direct flight in this summer to lulissat, where there was still daylight at 22.20. But this was to change during the next two weeks, when leaving it will be dark by 20.00.
Ilulissat - the reunion
It is good to be here again. While flying straight to the airport we saw the large icebergs again, we went along the spectacular coastline from the airport to Ilulissat and to our accomodation, the Disko Bay House. Right at the first evening we met our guests, Sigurd and Marlene Tesche, whom we were to guide for one week.
At the next day there was at first a lot of work to do. We had to get the equipment from the trasporters Arctic Line and unpack the boats, motors, compressors, etc. Also we had to pick up the diving equipment which stayed in Ilulissat for the winter. Everything starts, as every year, at Willis Container at the harbour - everything starts with filling the tanks.
But on the next day, a Sunday, diving started:
The first dive - just around the corner"
After the strong northerly wind on the day of arrival we have had brilliant weather since yesterday. The wind stopped and the sunshine was permanent from the deep blue sky. We took the rubber boats and left for Itisuarsuk, a small bay which we habe been knowing since the year before. But already just around the corner" we found a protected place on the rocky coast with a marvellous iceberg in front of. There was no way of going further after we saw this sport. Of course we landed and went ashore with all our equipment. The first dive on an best suited iceberg with beautiful underwater structure and the sun shining into the water and the ice and reflecting the light - what a scene! Yesterdays hard work was forgotten at once while spending the day at this impresssive coastline with sight to the icefjord and having all the huge icebergs floating by on the horizont. Of course we did two dives at this place.
Because of our rather early arrival in Greenland in 2002 and the long daylight at this time of the year we had problems in estimating the time of the day right. The problem in Ilulissat is, that you only get food until eight o clock in the evening, no metter how light it is outside. So we nearly didn't get food on the first day, but it is always stress to get your food in the right time. But this time we made it in time, and at seven pm straight we were sitting in the Cafe Iluliaq ordering our dinner after this extremly exhausting day.
The sun was shining also the next day and with this perfect weather and no wind we loaded the equipment into the wooden boat Esle" to go to Rodebay. In Ilulissat we were able to land on the peer but in Rodebay we had to unload the boat with the rubber boats. As there was wind at the time of doing so, everything was a little more difficult than it was in the morning. But finally we made it and put evereything into the little hut Speckhäuschen", which was one of the houses at the area of the H8 from Uta und Ingo.
We very happy to see Uta and Ingo and the H8 again, those two people who have been working and living there for five years now. And of course we were looking forward to the delicious dinners and the evenings in the comfortable accomodation of the place. The house was quickly filled with all our equipment, bags and cameras and so on.
The Whale cementary"
Now we were prepared to start diving and we did so immediately. We loaded the rubber boats and went to the "Whale cementary" where there lies a huge head of a whale which was hunted in June (just to remember: Hunting whales in Greenland is only allowed to the Inuit for their own needs and also limited). Gerd was posing at the head beside the little krill which was eating the leftovers and this was of course a very impressive subject to be filmed by Sigurd. But posing this way you have to be careful not to get to close to the head or bones because the flesh which is still on the bones smells very strongly. One of our divers in 2001 experianced this and his jacket was still smelling back in Germany.
Say good bye to Red Anemone"
Last year we discoverd a very spectacular divesite which we now have to rename, because we learnd, that these animals on the walls are no anemones but a kind of sea cucumber (climbing sea cucumber). What we also learnd was, that these sea cucumbers normally live in deeper water (around 80 m and deeper) and are very rare. So these walls in 13 to 30 m depth, richly populated with red and orange sea cucumbers, are a hot spot.
But it didn't matter what animal it was, the dive was again very impressive. Walls full of these sea cucumbers in deep red and orange, greenland-crabs, seaspiders, scorpionfish and so on. But there also the mentionned anemones live - the big red ones.
Today we had strong winds and naturally the water was weavy very quickly. So the driving to the divesite had to be short. But the weather didn't invite us to stay on the site during the dives and so we went back to the more comfortable H8. In Lee it was very nice to have a litte sleep in the high grass - together with the dogs which were also enjoying the warm sun rolled tightliy in their little holes behind the hillocks. During the surface time at the H8 we had to follow the dogs regularly to their hiding places to look for some of our things - like shoes or hats. Also the dogs like to play and normally there is nothing laying around - except the divers with their lots of equipment are there. And there was always something forgotten outside.
And again ice
In the afternoon we saw a beautiful iceberg beside the peer in the opposite of the whale cementary. It was about 15 m long and slightly rising from the water surface to the top at the side which layed in direction to the land, but the iceberg was rather high and there were a lot of ice hanging over on the other side. Unfortunately the visibility was not so good because of the yesterdays wind and waves, but the ice just beneath the surface was very blue and reflecting the sunlight. Through a hole in the surface part of the iceberg there was water coming through and the sunbeams too, which produced a number of phantastic pictures and views from the position of the divers on the surface right beside the ice. But while staying on the iceberg, the water rose with the incoming high tide and the iceberg began to move slowly. We heard the loud cracks of the ice and when the underwater part of the iceberg left the ground we felt a kind of shock wave in the water because of the now moving mass. And also we began to move - very quickly away from the ice!
The wind began to freshen and pressed the boats onto the shore which made it very difficult for us to leave the shore. But as everybody was dressed with a drysuite we finally made it, we pushed the boats out and away of the shore by going into the water as deep as possible. But in the end we had to pump out a lot of water, and after the sun hided behind the clouds you get a good feeling about what it is like to be in the arctic zone.
Today there was no more wind and again it would be a nice and sunny day.
Because of the yesterdays strong wind a nice iceberg drifted into the bay, it was about 10 m long and not very high and layed directly beside the little peer in front of the H8. All we had to do was to jump into the water directly at the H8 and have a nice dive at the ice again. The ice was glittering in the sun, the visibility was perfect and we were able to watch all there bizarre underwater structure of the ice. But one third of the iceberg broke down and one of the divers, Koni, who was just passing by this part of the iceberg, was able to watch that very close. After a short time also the hanging over other end of the iceberg broke into peaces with a lot of noise and cracks. But as it was a hanging over part we were of course not diving there. And after a short while also a third part of the ice broke, so we were happy to have been diving there already in the morning because there was nearly nothing left of the iceberg in the afternoon.
In the afternoon we went once again to the Whale cementary", the iceberg, which was there yesterday, drifted away in the meantime and we had another look at the bones, heads, jawbones and discs in this place.
On the next day we tried the former Red Anemone", nowadays "Climbing Sea Cucumber" once again.
Back to Ilulissat
But unfortunately we had to leave Rodebay again, this was bad, but worse was the thought of the loading and unloading of the equipment. We had to load Esle" again with the rubber boats. After everything was done, we had a marvollous sea voyage back to Ilulissat, giant icebergs, which were very close to the land, lining our way, glittering in the sun, the calm sea was like a mirror, the strong sunshine from the blue sky - sometimes you forget to be in the arctic zone. We came back to the harbour, unloaded the equipment very quickly and drove to our Ilulissat-accomodation, the Disko Bay House.
But after this week of working and diving everybody was rather tired and we had to cure some little injuries. But now everything will start from the beginnin!
The second Tour
On Friday, 6.9., the plan from Kangerlussuaq with the rest of our group for the second tour landed with "fresh" people, because Koni and Thilo were already with us during the first week, and carrying compressors, tanks, lead, diving and walking, made one tired and exhausted.
Unfortunately we had bad weather on the day of their arrival - grey sky, rain, the fog was hanging in the mountains. Of course we told them about the wonderful weather during the last week but it didn't help them to feel better!
After we collected everyboy and eveything we went to the Disko Bay House, but short after their arrival everybody wanted to walk to the icefjord, see the town - really "fresh" people. Not even the bad weather held them back. Only Koni and Thilo were happy about the day off.
In the evening we met Sigurd and Marlene Tesche for dinner, but tomorrow we will start again.
Sea voyage to Ataa
It was still raining, still foggy so that we were not even able to see the land we were passing by. It was cold, and with out brown faces, we were sitting on the boat and waiting for arriving our destination. Noone of the "new" group could even imagine the impressive landscape, the huge icebergs in the sunlight and a weather which produces brown skin even in the arctic. No we had a real arctic adventure.
But also in this rainy and cold weather we had to load the boat, the Clane" this time. To load the boat at the peer in Ilulissat was not a big problem. Everybody gave a hand and we left the peer in time. But we came back immediately - Ingo forgot his fins. We will hear some more from Ingo in this conncetion.
But finally we left Ilulissat and the voyage began - 4,5 hours to go to Ataa. Everybody was in a good mood because of the upcoming adventure, they took pictures, we sat on deck watching the land - as far as we could see it - , the icebergs. But after a certain time more and more tourmembers went into the small steering room to captain Jens Ole and the little stove. It was cold and wet, the shoes began to get wet and the feet began to get cold.
But suddenly Thilo, wo stayed outside, called "Whales!" and everybody jumped out of the steering room on deck, awake and armed with their cameras. For a while we slowly followed the whales - two humpbackwhales - and from time to time we saw their backs. Suddenly they came up very close in the front of the boat but in this second the iceberg, we passed a few minutes earlier, broke apart with a lot of noise in the back of the boat. Where should one look at first in this situation? Some of us saw the big fin of one of the whale, some of us watched the ice masses falling into the water and the shockwave, but Ingo, who was in the top, had the best view to both events. But unfortunately his big video camera was already running, so he simply switched it off when he wanted to film the events. Poor Ingo - he was very disappointed!
The unforseen whalewatching took a lot of time and finally we reached our destination Ataa at 3 p.m. Now the problems began - strong wind, high waves. We were not able to bring the boat to the rock, where the Clane usually lands, because of the onland wind. So we had to anchor in a small bay nearby and we tried to bring the equipment to the Camp by rubber boat transfer. But after parts of the equipment and Koni too fell into the icecold water, we gave up this plan. We were waiting a while for better weather and at the end everything was unloaded, but unfortunately not very close to the camp. So we had to bring the necessary things to the litte hut where we were sleeping, and peace by peacy everything - except the compressor - was finally at the camp. At about 8 p.m. we were happy about a cup of tea, which was prepard by Leonardo, who manages the Camp during the summer time. After a while also our clothes and shoes were dryed. As there is no shop or anything else, Leonardo is cooking for the guests, and we enjoyed the dinner after all this working very much.
Diving in Ataa
In 2000 and 2001 we were not able to go to Ataa, so it was a completely new dive site to be explored. On the next day it was snowing but we did the first dive - the checkdive - in the bay right in front of the camp. A number of huge icebergs were laying in a line out in the bay. It is very dangerous to come near to such an iceberg, so every buddy team had to plan their dive according to this circumstances very carefully. The icebergs stuck on a drop off, but they could break and cause a shockwave. Also wind and rain make an iceberg dangerous, because rain is like a knive for the ice. The ground was slightly falling and richly coverd with kelp, snails, crabs and starfishes hided in the plants. The water temperatur was 0°C and everybody could get used to this temperature.
After we came out of the water, the sun came out again, suddenly we had the warm and sunny weather of the last week and with that the whole landscape - and also our mood - changed a lot. Suddenly we saw the mountains and the ice glittering in the sun, all of the spectacular and empty place here up in the north. During the surface time we were laying in the grass, enjoying the sun and the view.
After a short walk inward the land we came to a big lake, the Taserssuaq. There we wanted to dive. The line of divers fully equiped, walking along a small footpath in the middle of nowhere, this must have been a very funny impression for others, but there were no others. It was very difficult to walk into the lake because of the deep mud, but we were rewarded with very clear water but no life inside the lake.
In the evening there were some polar foxes around the main house because Leonardo was feeding them a litte. But they are very shy and with us standing and walking around the disappeard very quickly.
On Monday afternoon the "Clane" came up to bring us back to Rodebay, but in the morning we went diving another time, just around the corner at a best suited place to land with the rubber boats at the entry of the fjorden Kangerdlo, which was only a short boat ride away from the camp. There we had a steep wall and a big variety of kelp and crabs, starfish, etc. The iceberg in the entry was too far away to dive there.
Home" to Rodebay
After the logistic masterpeace of loading the equipment to the Clane" , we went south to Rodebay, this time with sunshine. In the evening we arrived in Rodebay, but also Clane was not able to land on the little peer in front of the H8. So we had to unload everything with the rubber boats. This was done very quickly, everyone of the group was experienced in the meantime. Ute prepared a very delicious meal and we enjoyed the comfortable accomodation (with light but no running water, because in Ataa we had no light and no running water).
This night brought us an unforseen event - there was a beautiful northern light and all were running into the darkness, up the hills, just to see it better and to have a more intensive impression in totally darness.
In Rodebay we planned diving, diving, diving. Right at the next day we went to the site of the climbing sea cucumber. The visibility was not so good because of the few days of bad weather. Also the bad weather came back in the afternoon, we had wind and waves again. In the afternoon we tried "Barbys Bay", a dive site which we reached by a short walk. This place was out to the open sea and we expected it to be a little better because it was protected from the northern wind. Also there was a nice iceberg in a good swimming distance which we wanted to try. But also here the visibility was not very good and we could only enjoy to watch the ice beneath the surface. But also this gave the people a good impression of the dimension of an iceberg under water.
Of course we went to the Whale cementary" in order to find the new head and the last years head. We were floating over the groups of bones and cruising around the heads. We have also tried out some more divesites in the bay of Rodebay, but there we had seen all the power of destroyment of the icebergs, when their underwater part crashes against rocks and floated over the ground, breaking mussels and chasing away the animals. Also the icecover in the winter is destroying the underwater landscape in the same way.
Also a night dive should not be missed here in the bay of the Quivittoqs, an Inuit name for a ghost. Last year two divers with their lamps were held for ghosts by an Inuit at this place. But this year everyone will know but noone will understand the divers - jumping into this cold water in the night. After the first buddy team went under water, a beautiful nothern light occured and the rest of us was watching it before diving.
In these days the weather changed a lot between warm and sunny with wonderful evening light and cold and windy. But during our last days in Greenland a weather phenomen occured, the Fön! With this very strong but warm wind we reached temperatures of +16° C and going by rubber boat became an adventure on its own, there were such high waves that it was only possible to ride the boat fully equiped with a drysuite.
Now we have to go back to Ilulissat
The days in Rodebay were very exhausting - some of the planned walks simply ended in bed before they really began. But leaving Rodebay is always like leaving home. And we had to load again, this time with the strong wind and riding the loaded rubber boat against the waves made them, who were in the boat, to change even the underware because everything got wet.
The Fön became a storm which came from the inland icecap down to the coast. Because of the storm all the icebergs started drifting to the west and finally it was also to much wind for the fisherboats and all the other boats to leave the harbour.
In Ilulissat everything was unloaded for a last time, and most of the equipment was brought to the Arctic line to be sent home.
On Saturday, Ingo, Werner and Pascal, planned a helicopter tour to the glacier to see the ice breaking down, but because of the wind the helicopter was not able to land, so they had only the impressive view over the glacier and the icefjord itself. In the afternoon we planned a last dive, but the ships were not able to leave the harbour because of the storm. Also the giant icebergs, real islands, were suddenly driftig apart and away because of this permanent storm. So we decided to do a walk in direction to the Itisuarsuq, where we planned to dive.
On Sunday the weather changed totally - no wind, sunshine and temperatures between 12-16°C. We walked to a small former Inuit settlement called Sermermiut and after that along the Kangia in direction of Isfjeldsbanken. There you have the best view over the sunny Kangia, the fjorden, where the big icebergs, coming from the Sermeq Glacier, are drifting for about one year into the disko bay.
In the afternoon we went into Isfjeldsbanken with Willi and his boat Maya", and three times we saw peaces of ice breaking off very close. The fishermen catch there tonns of Halibut.
But now the tour is already over and for a last time we met for a cofortable dinner.
On Monday morning we went to the airport, today it was raining, but that didn't matter anymore. In Kangerlussuaq, where we have to change planes, we were able to do a last walk to see some moshus oxes before we had to leave Greenland.
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