Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hell Corner

The team rose early soon after the sun rose into the blue morning sky. The sea was calmer and the weather forecast favourable. The northern tip of Storø is around 10 kilometres across a wide channel from the beginning of a 30 kilometre stretch of coastline dubbed 'Hell Corner' by Watkins' 1930s expeditions.

The closer we got the greater the swell became. As we approached the first major headland the waters became choppier than we had seen on this trip. Several huge bergs that were surging in the swell gave us only limited room to get through, or around.
Normally, there would also be bands of pack ice sitting just offshore. The presence of pack ice serves as a slowly drifting breakwater and dampens off much of the energy from the swell. It is also possible to land on these flat fragments of frozen ocean to rest on long passages. On this occasion the pack ice was gone. Only huge bergs remained leaving our route around 'Hell Corner' exposed to the undiluted power of the Denmark Strait.

There group had gone a bit quiet. There was none of the usual chatty banter. A decision needed to be made and agreed upon so we rafted up.  Even holding the kayaks together was tricky as they banged together in the surging choppy sea.  With a further 30 kilometres of committing paddling to go, there was insufficient confidence to go ahead, especially as we had only a vague forecast for the return.  Reluctantly, we decided to retreat to a beach that we had passed some 40 minutes earlier.

We landed through surf onto a broad pebbly beach in a bay that was littered ice fragments. We took our time to eat, rest and recuperate. If we were to abandon our plans to reach Tugtilik, we would need to identify a new objective. In the meantime, somewhere to camp would be good too...

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