The end of an arduous expedition

Published on 15.07.2009 - Emirates NBD Greenland Quest

Because no-one has previously completed the route from JP Kocks fjord all the way to Thulé, the three men had no idea what they were letting themselves in for.

But now the group led by Adrian Hayes has reached the final stages of what has been a very arduous expedition. While they were descending the JP Kocks glacier -travelling at night- they stumbled into a glacier torrent that they were unable to extricate themselves from and which they were forced to follow virtually down to sea level. "Falling and wading up to the waist through glacial meltwater all night..." wrote Adrian (3rd July).

Then there were the ceaseless headwinds they had to contend with. Climbing towards the top of the glacier to try and find better terrain (let's not forget that they are still almost 600 km from Thulé), they were met head on by winds blasting in from the south-west – which was precisely the direction they had to take to reach the coast and Quaanaaq (Thulé). So there was no question of making any progress, apart from trying to turn back in the hope of finding more favourable winds.

And then there was a third problem that was just as serious: by 4th July, Adrian and his two companions only had food and fuel for 19 days aboard their sledges. The food could be rationed, of course – a measure that many explorers have had to resort to in the past – and in fact the three men have already begun to do just that (10th July). But the question of fuel is more delicate: because without fuel, you can't melt ice and without melting ice, you don't have any water to drink. End of story, period.

One final worry was that when they were close to the glacier, they came across a great many crevasses. One night, on 8th July, poor Devon found himself hanging over a bottomless abyss, five metres from the tent, attached only by his harness...

At the present time, the three men are trying to strike a happy medium between making progress as quickly as possible without using up too much energy so that they are not too ravenous when it comes to meal times in the tent. All of which means that the end of Adrian Hayes's expedition is proving to be eventful, to say the least.

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