Trekking Greenland – Unplugged Wilderness Day 11

Day 11 of the Unplugged Wilderness Trek started early and we were happily greeted with brilliant blue skies again.  

View from above of the glacier, from the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut.

Blue skies, mountains and glaciers – what more could you want

The early start was because we had asked Maxime the evening before if we could add in the climb to the summit behind the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut (which we were meant to hike yesterday) before heading back to the campsite.   He’d agreed, but it meant getting up early so we could have breakfast, clean and arrange the hut and get everything sorted to leave, get up and down the mountain and then all the way back to the campsite, while still making it in time to catch the boats that were coming to collect us and take us back to Kulusuk.  Done!

Although the sky was perfectly clear, the Tasilap Kua Valley below us was blanketed in cloud – very reminiscent of what I saw so many times while observing at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile.  

The Tasilap Kua Valley (as seen from above) is filled with thick cloud. Only the mountain peaks above the cloudbank are visible

This scenario – where I’m up on a mountain looking down into a sea of clouds always reminds me of my time at the Observatories in Chile, and I wrote a rare personal post about this last year.

The climb up to the summit starts off pretty steep but is not too difficult.  And, if you turn around, there are amazing views back down over the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut and its surroundings.  It really is in the most incredible location!

Looking down on the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut and its surroundings from half way to the summit

You can see the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut on the small rise at bottom left of image

We climbed as a group up until a certain point, but then Maxime split us into 2 smaller parties to make the final hike to the top.  I waited in the second group soaking up the sunshine until he returned to collect us.

Three of my trekking companions sitting on rocks enjoying the sun and the views

Filip, Dusan and Mathilde soaking up the sun waiting for our turn to head to the summit

As we began to climb, we understood his caution – both in splitting us into two groups now, and also in recommending we didn’t climb yesterday in the rain.  It became an almost vertical scramble, where it was very easy to dislodge rocks and stones onto others coming up from below.  Fewer people in the group, less likelihood this would happen, or that someone would get injured if it did.

Looking up the steep rocky climb towards the summit of the mountain

The summit we climbed to is smaller peak just to the left of center

So glad we got up early to do this though, because the views from the top were absolutely spectacular!  And thanks to the cloud for clearing off! 😉

Very wide parorama showing Tasiilap Kua Valley, the ridge of peaks we are standing on, and a higher, snow-filled valley on the other side of the ridge

Very wide parorama trying to encapsulate the entire vista from the summit. It was incredible!

Panorama looking east from the ridge - the high snow-filled valley around to the glacier

View to the East of the summit and ridge

Vista encompassing the entire length of the Tasiilap Kua valley, taken from the summit

View of the Tasilap Kua valley to the West of the summit and ridge

We spent quite a bit of time at the summit with Maxime pointing out some of the different features in the landscape, as well as the route we’d taken over the past 11 days.

Our guide showing a group of my trekking companions on the map the route we'd hiked

We didn’t actually pull the map out too often while we trekked. But when you can see for miles around you – it is the perfect time to do so

Oh, and we finally took the group photo!

My 12 trekking companions posing for the group photo at the summit

Group Photo (clockwise from me): me, Rebecca, Olivier, Mathilde, Maxime, Anna, Filip, Dusan, Damien, Stephane, Andrew, Francesco, Laurent

Unfortunately, we had to eventually leave and start picking our way back down the mountain.  Well, except for the last part where Filip started a snowball fight with Mathilde, Maxime and I, and we ended up running down the majority of the final snowfield.

My trekking companions descending from the summit in front of me, with mountains and glacier in the background

The view of the glacier from above was amazing

Close-up of ridge-lines within the ice of the glacier as we look down upon it from above

and I love realising how small I am in front of such grandeur.

8 of my trekking companions at the edge of a ridge, dwarfed by the mountain that lies across the valley

My trekking companions helpfully giving a sense of scale to the mountain across the valley

Those who have read through my other posts about this Unplugged Wilderness Trek, or have read about my trek in Huayhuash, Peru last year (or any of my hiking or trekking posts really, where I am part of a group), will have noticed that many of the photos include my fellow hikers.  I didn’t always do this.  In fact, I used to wait for people to get out of the way before I would take a photo.  One of the reasons I changed in the past few years is for precisely this reason – people give a sense of scale to where I am – and in the mountains, scale is fundamental to the awe-inspiring experience.

We had a quick lunch at the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut,  then headed back down the vertical cliff

My trekking companions using the ropes to get themselves down the almost vertical rocky slope below the Tasiilaq Mountain Hut

The ropes definitely helped with the descent

back down the moraine

My trekking companions descending along the glacial moraine - top image looking back up at the mountains, bottom image looking down to the valley below

It was easier going down than it was coming up, but you still had to watch your footing

and back along the river to where we had left our gear at the campsite.  

Several of my trekking companions following the trail along the river in the Tasiilap Kua valley with a view towards the triplets.

One of the very few trails we saw in our 12 days of trekking

This last part seemed to take forever, and Filip and I (who were out in front of Maxime and the rest of the group) were really starting to wonder whether we had somehow missed spotting the tent!  But no – it was just a lot further than we expected.

As we were approaching camp, we saw 2 speedboats leave the campsite and head back up the fjord … we were running a little late … oops!  Fortunately they did come back for us, and we made the journey back to Kulusuk and the Kulusuk Hostel.

One of my trekking companions sitting on the boat back to Kulusuk in the weak sunshine

Filip enjoying the sun on the way up the Tasiilaq Fjord back to Kulusuk. Photo: Mathilde Bousson

There, we each took turns at our first hot shower for 11 days.  I had just finished lathering up my hair with the most shampoo I think I’ve ever used in my life, when suddenly – the water cut out!  Completely!  Fortunately I had already washed the rest of myself, so I got dressed in clean clothes (heaven – you really appreciate the basic luxuries after 11 days), tied my towel around my incredibly soapy head, and went to find out what was going on.  Jóhanna ended up coming and rescuing me about half-hour later and I finally washed the soap out of my hair.

Massive meal of fish for our last dinner together – really not wanting the whole thing to end 🙁

Trekking Time:  approximately 10 hours

Read more about the Unplugged Wilderness Trek

If this post has piqued your curiosity about hiking and trekking in East Greenland, read about the rest of my adventure on the the 12-day Unplugged Wilderness Tour with Greenland Adventures by Icelandic Mountain Guides:

  • Day 1 – Tasiilaq to Kulusuk and along the Sermiligaaq Fjord 
  • Day 2 – Hike to the Karale Glacier
  • Day 3 – Hike to the lookout over Sermiligaaq Fjord and Karale Fjord
  • Day 4 – Karale Fjord camp to Beach camp
  • Day 5 – Beach camp to Bluie East Two
  • Day 6 – Bluie East Two along the Ikateq strait to the Tunu Fjord
  • Day 7 – Tunup Kua Valley to Tasiilaq Fjord
  • Day 8 – Along the Tasiilaq Fjord
  • Day 9 – Tasiilaq Fjord to Tasiilaq Mountain Hut
  • Day 10 – Tasiilaq Mountain Hut
  • Day 11 – Tasiilaq Mountain Hut to Tasiilaq Fjord to Kulusuk
  • Day 12 – Kulusuk to Reykjavik
  • Video Slideshow – of some of my favourite images

If it has sparked an interest in Greenland more generally, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours of all kinds (not just hiking and trekking) at Guide to Greenland.

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