East Greenland Kayaking Expedition 2016

Greenland Kayaking Expedition 2016 was a two week unsupported kayaking expedition to Sermiliq Fjord in East Greenland. The idea was to pair "business men" with "explorers and pathfinders". Tobia Croff, partner at New York based firm Shearman & Sterling joined me as the other “business man”. Patrick “Pata” Degerman (www.pata.fi), most likely the only person in Finland who can call himself an Explorer and Sigurd Schultz, top level Norwegian certified kayaking coach and guide, pathfinder and a member of the Børge Ousland team, were the explorers. It is amazing how much we learned from each other.

In mid-August, we landed at the remote town of Kulusuk and took a helicopter to Tiniteqilaaq, a beautiful small town with colourful houses built around the slopy inlet. We were greeted by Greenland dogs, whales and friendly people. After our final stocking up we packed our kayaks and headed north up the fjord. The scenery was breathtaking – ice everywhere, icebergs bigger than apartment buildings framed by mountains that look like Mordor from The Lord of The Rings. Due to melting the icebergs were rolling around making it sound like someone was shooting with a cannon every couple of minutes. The first night in a tent was nerveracking – we set up the polar bear alarm and at 1 a.m. it went off – a big BANG! We all woke up with our guns, did the maneuvers we had practiced so many times and tried to spot the bear in the darkness. And suddenly we see gleaming eyes – not a polar bear but a sweet little polar fox checking out the random visitors (and their food supplies).

 

We continued kayaking and during the following days were greeted with whales, seals, birds and again a  lot of ice – but luckily no polar bears. The weather was fair the whole time, except for two days when we had to battle hard winds and waves amidst the icebergs. But for us it was an almost a religious experience to be in the land of Inuits, advancing in traditional style with kayaks and Greenlandic paddles. At the same time we were saddened by the pace of climate change and how it is changing the Arctic nature and the long traditions of the local people.

 

Thank you to our partners, Ursuit (www.ursuit.com) and Lahnakoski (www.lahnakoski.fi) for your support and making our trip possible!

Below photos by Pata Degerman

Media Coverage

NordSalten article on training module 1

(in Norwegian)

Västra Nyland article on training module 2

(in Swedish)

Keskipohjanmaa article on the Expedition

(in Finnish)

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