Cover image: Greenland's Rype Fjord. Author Steve Ruskay advocates here for dreaming big and following those dreams in the coming year. Image: Steve Ruskay.
After a long sip of pure unfiltered glacier water, I take my pack off, and pause for a break. Even beside the Greenland Ice Sheet, and at nearly 73 degrees North, the mid-August sun has created sweltering heat in the Rype Fjord Valley. The rolling moraines in this high arctic oasis, are rich with arctic mosses, lichens, and flowers. Also enjoying this lush landscape is a family of muskox, which graze on the slopes above. Every movement I make is carefully watched by each member of the herd.
This relatively forgiving landscapes ends abruptly as the nearby coastal moraines are broken by sharply rising, and jagged mountain peaks. Impressive on their own, but in this part of the world, even mountain peaks fail in comparison to the massive ice sheet beyond.
This is the North Eastern coast of Greenland, one of the most remote and beautiful wildernesses on earth.
The impressive Rype Fjord is only a small section of the Scoresbysund Fjord, the largest fjord system found anywhere in the world. The northern end of the valley makes up the approximate boundary of the North East Greenlandic National Park. This is the largest protected park land in the world. Home to 40 % of the world’s polar bear and muskox populations, the park strictly controls access; We will only be able to see into the park from the South edge of the Eilson Glacier, a tiny piece of the ice sheet that is one of several active tide water glaciers producing enormous Icebergs into the fjord.
The Scoresbysund Fjord has a long and layered history, but now sees only a hand full of visitors each year. And few if any have ever made it this far inland. I gaze up the glacier, towards the vastness beyond. I find myself, like all explorers, wondering what might lie around the next mountain. It is likely that these mountains have never been climbed, and may never be. That these Glaciers have never been explored and may never be. In many ways, it feels like I am at the edge of the world.
As the sun drifts behind the mountains, the air quickly cools. I put my boots back on, pack up, and quickly descend to the waiting kayaks. The tranquil hot day has transformed into a cool evening with katabatic winds quickly developing. Like the lush moraines turning into jagged peaks, the arctic weather can turn quickly too.
Exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world is one of my great fortunes. It is rewarding, fun and challenging, especially when guiding others. The best advice I have for those who want to get out and explore is:
- Do your homework
- Be prepared, and
- Take the right gear.
Oboz Firebrand II BDry, is the perfect footwear for exploring Greenland, and hiking to literally, the edge of the world.
Steve Ruskay is the lead guide for Black Feather – The Wilderness Adventure Company, based in Seguin Ontario. Each summer Steve can be found high above the Arctic circle, guiding multi week expeditions to some of the most remote parts of the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. Steve is also a recognised outdoor educator, sea kayak Instructor, moving water instructor, and rescue instructor with Raven Rescue Canada. Follow Steve on his expeditions around the world and view his beautiful photographs @ruskayvision, and www.ruskayvision.com.