Greenland: Prelude



August 25, 2015

Hello Fellow Rider,

Over the years, I have been fortunate to travel the world using a variety of animate and inanimate conveyances.

I have flown on many fixed-wing aircraft, both propeller and jet, from a Boeing 747 to a Boeing DC 3 to an Embraer 190.  

But today, something new.

Expect the Unexpected in Greenland

SE Greenland
August 26, 2015

“I’m Going!”

When I learned that a photography club from New York was leading a tour to Greenland and Iceland, I decided, “I’m going!”

I knew that I needed some specialized clothing and gear.  But I really didn’t know what to expect on such a trip.    So I thought, “Expect the unexpected.”

Sure, you can read about icebergs and glaciers and indigenous settlements; you can watch the Discovery Channel.  But when you see them, you see them.  In Greenland, I found the unexpected. 

Greenland. Icebergs: Big and Blue

August 27, 2015

So, you like icebergs?  I mean like really big ones?

The book Icebergs by Christian Kempf shows you and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about big icebergs … and maybe even more.  *

The photographs are outstanding.

The Table of Contents includes: glaciers and ice caps, iceberg routes, classifications, shapes (tabular, arch, pinnacle, bestiary), colors, and explorers.  There’s an entire chapter on The Titanic.

There’s an Iceberg Glossary: everything from Agglomerated Brash, to Bergy Bit, to Firn, to Growler, to Ram and Rill, to Tsunami, to Very Large Iceberg – an actual classification of an iceberg jutting more than 75 meters (246 ft) above the surface of the sea with a length of over 200 meters (656 ft).

The Inuit natives and the main group of inhabitants of Greenland, the Kalaallit, have a rich vocabulary of words to describe the ice, since 79% of the country is covered by it.  The author lists eighteen words, but admits there are about forty words to describe snow and ice.  (Apparently, the “well-known fact” is actually true.)

Greenland. The Story of Glaciers






                 Excerpts from Icebergs.  Christian Kempf. 

                   From Snowflake to Ice Caps to Glaciers*


     Snow gathers in hollows called “cirques,” sometimes up to 20 to 30 meters deep, (65 - 98 ft) assisted by wind, rain and avalanches.

     Fallen snow packs down and becomes less complex in structure as it releases much of the air that was trapped inside between the individual flakes.  This granular snow turns into ice over several years as the crystals bond to each other under high pressure, reaching ever larger sizes, that then bond to each other in turn.

     It generally takes five to ten years for snow to turn to ice.  In Greenland or Antarctica, this process can take a hundred years, while it takes just three to five years on certain glaciers in Svalbard or the Alps, where there is greater snowfall and the climate is cooler – speeding up the process.

     Glaciers are formed from successive layers of snow, though freezing mist or surface meltwater can also cause the ice to build up.  These accumulations of ice in the center of continents and polar islands are called ice caps (up to 50,000 km2) or ice sheets (over 50,000 km2) (19,305 sq mi).

The ice is up to 600 meters deep in Svalbard and the Campo do Hielo, Chile, (1968 ft).  3100 meters in Greenland (10,170 ft) and up to 4800 meters in Antarctica (15,748 ft or 3 miles deep).

Whale Spotting, Greenland

East Greenland

August 29, 2015


The vast landmass of Greenland is more than just snow, ice sheets, glaciers and icebergs.

The small area that I was privileged to visit displayed splendid and inspiring mountain scenery.

We were fortunate to have excellent guides.  But the guides were not only Norwegians or Danes on a summer’s job.  Our guides were also local men. 

The word “guide” is not completely adequate.

I like to think of our guides as “hunters.”

Semiliqaq - Tupilak


East Greenland

August 30, 2015


In response to my photographs from Greenland, a friend of mine wrote:

“I loved the pictures.  I did not realize the people there were of Asian descent.”

I have attached a map of the Polar Arctic.  From the location of various modern day countries and islands, we can guess the likely immigration routes by land, by sea and over the ice, routes that originated in Asia.